YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – One of the country's most visited and beloved national parks partially reopened Wednesday, more than a week after historic flooding reshaped canyons, washed away homes and roads and destroyed bridges.
The west, south and east entrances to Yellowstone National Park reopened at 8 a.m. to allow visitors to access the park's south loop.
The north and northeast entrances, where most of the catastrophic flooding occurred, will remain closed indefinitely while damage assessments and cleanup efforts continue.
"We have made tremendous progress in a very short amount of time but have a long way to go," Yellowstone National Park superintendent Cam Sholly said.
The park is instituting a visitor access plan to ensure the south loop does not become overwhelmed with visitors in which the National Park Service will actively monitor a license plate system.
Sholly said the park is working tirelessly so that more parts of the park can open.
"We have an aggressive plan for recovery in the north," Sholly explained.
Yellowstone staff says they are working to determine what other potential park sections may reopen before roads close on Nov. 1. Decisions will depend on damage assessments and the safety of opening roads.
"We realize there is much challenging work ahead, and we will do everything we can to support the park, partners, concessioners, and gateway communities on the road to recovery," National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said.
The National Park Service closed all entrances to Yellowstone National Park on June 13 after unprecedented amounts of rain and rapid snowmelt caused major flooding, rockslides and mudslides that littered the pristine landscape with debris.
More than 10,000 people were thought to be in the park when the flooding began, but no injuries or deaths were reported.
However, dozens of people needed to be rescued from the floodwaters.
The combination of several inches of rain with the rapid snowmelt caused rivers near Yellowstone National Park to reach historic flood levels.
The Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs in Montana reached a record-high of 13.88 feet, which shattered its previous record of 11.5 feet that was set in 1917.