Yellowstone landslide almost crushes a car; Rooms may close for the season

GARDINER, MT — Heartbreaking new video has shown a landslide nearly crushing a car in Yellowstone National Park amid historic flooding that has forced thousands of people to evacuate and could shut down a large part of the park for the season.

As Montana Patch previously reported, record levels of flooding washed away homes, roads and bridges in and around Yellowstone, leaving some communities isolated and forcing all park entrances to close at least Wednesday. The floods came following torrential rains and a rapidly melting snowpack, just as the summer tourist season intensified.

Pictures and videos (some with graphic language) posted on Twitter show a bridge near the Tom Miner Basin washed away by the raging waters of the yellowstone river.

A home that was washed into Rock Creek in Red Lodge, Montana by raging floodwaters is seen Tuesday. Officials said more than 100 homes in the small town were flooded when torrential rains swelled waterways in the Yellowstone area. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

Daniel Hokanson, head of the National Guard Bureau, tweeted Wednesday that 87 people were rescued by the Montana National Guard. Helicopters flew for more than 41 hours.

On Tuesday evening, the National Park Service said the northern portion of the park would likely remain closed for “a substantial amount of time due to severely damaged and impacted infrastructure.”

Photos showed an entire section of the North Entrance Road between Gardiner and Mammoth Hot Springs had collapsed into the river.

Here are five things to know about the historic Yellowstone flood:

1. On Tuesday, an eight-second video (containing graphic language) was posted to Instagram showing a rockslide that nearly crushed a red SUV in the park. Anne Leppold, who recorded the video, tweeted that happened at the Gardiner North Entrance Station on Sunday.

Park officials said the road was washed out in several places and there was a major landslide in Gardner Canyon at the northern entrance to Gardiner in Mammoth Hot Springs.

This aerial photo provided by the National Park Service shows a washed-out road at North Entry Road from Yellowstone National Park to Gardiner, Montana on Monday. Flooding from heavy rains over the weekend damaged roads and bridges in Yellowstone National Park, leading park officials to close all entrances until at least Wednesday. Gardiner, a town just north of the park, was isolated, with water covering the road north of town and a mudslide blocking the road to the south. (Doug Kraus/National Park Service via AP)

A segment of road was washed out from Tower Junction to the northeast entrance, near the Soda Butte picnic area. Mudslides and downed trees were also reported in the area.

In addition, a mudslide was reported on the road from Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass).

2. Park officials said more than 10,000 visitors have fled the park due to flooding.

“Because it’s mid-June, because Yellowstone is heavily used in the backcountry, we’ve had a large number of backcountry users and campers that we’ve followed up with, made contact We have implemented a complete closure of the Yellowstone backcountry,” Park Superintendent Cam Sholly told The Associated Press.

3. The northern part of Yellowstone will likely remain closed for a “substantial time” due to severely damaged and impacted roads and bridges. Aerial assessments Monday showed extensive damage to several sections of road between Gardiner’s North Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley and Cooke City near the Northeast Entrance.

“Many stretches of road in these areas have completely disappeared and rebuilding them will take a lot of time and effort,” park officials said.

It is likely that sections of road in northern Yellowstone will not reopen this season.

4. All incoming visitor traffic is prohibited, for now, at the five entrances to the park. This includes visitors with accommodation and camping reservations. The ban remains in place until conditions improve and park infrastructure can be assessed.

Power continues to go out in several locations throughout the park, and water and wastewater systems in Canyon Village and Mammoth Hot Springs have been affected by flooding.

This photo provided by Katherine Schoolitz shows flooding in Red Lodge, Montana on Monday. Raging floodwaters that swept homes into rivers and forced air and boat rescues began to slowly recede in the Yellowstone area on Tuesday, leaving tourists and others stranded after roads and bridges were been destroyed by torrential rains that caused the waterways to swell to record levels. (Katherine Schoolitz via AP)

5. However, the south loop of the park seems less impacted than the northern routes. Crews are assessing the damage in the southern section to determine if it can reopen sooner. This closure will extend at least until Sunday.

“Due to the unavailability of the North Loop for visitors, the park is analyzing the number of visitors who can safely visit the South Loop once it is safe to reopen. This will likely mean implementing some type of temporary reservation system to avoid traffic congestion and reduce impacts on park infrastructure,” the parks system said.

Sholly said the water will likely subside next week.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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