What Parts of Yellowstone Were Affected by Flooding?

The dramatic June 2022 floods of Yellowstone have devastated the park and will likely affect the area economically for many years. Are Yellowstone guided tours done for the year, or is there a chance that some might reopen? Understanding whether to hire national park tour guides for this area requires knowing what parts of the park were most heavily affected and whether they’ll reopen this year.

The North Section: The Most Heavily Devastated

When the flooding started throughout Yellowstone, it became quite clear that the northern section would be the most heavily affected. Heavy rain, rampant snow melting, and excessive temperature changes throughout southern Montana washed a heavy amount of water into this section of the park, where the flood started and became the most devastating quite quickly.

Throughout this section of the park, roads are not just heavily damaged but gone. All five entrances to the north are closed and are likely to stay that way for the rest of the year. Park experts state that they’ll likely stay closed for “significant periods of time,” without giving a timeline for reopening. Anyone heading there from Montana and Wyoming cannot pass through the park to avoid this damage.

Officials are closing these sections not just to minimize further damage but to protect motorists. If damage spreads and worsens throughout the region, drivers may find themselves trapped. All Yellowstone guided tours, even with official national park tour guides are closed to the north, though there are sections of the park there are already opening up for use after the flood.

Some Areas Are Reopening

While Yellowstone officials attempt to evacuate over 10,000 visitors in the park (and severe weather prompts continue to affect the area), park officials are already reopening some sections of the park. As Montana state officials scramble to provide residents with safe power and drinking water, the less heavily affected areas of the park, mostly to the south, will see restricted access for some visitors.

The park plans to use an Alternating Plate License System to let in people based on their plate and restrict access to the park’s southern sections during recovery. After this section reopened on June 22, around 20 cars were waiting to come to the park. This number is a considerable decrease from the thousands of people who typically flock to the park daily to hike, camp, and visit.

Some limited Yellowstone guided tours may occur in these areas with specially trained national park tour guides prepared for the unique challenges of this experience. That’s because many businesses throughout the region rely heavily on Yellowstone to survive. As the park brings millions of people to the region every year, many people rely on tourism money to survive.

Unfortunately, some companies are likely to fail to survive, such as hotels that are often booked years in advance. Many are already seeing a wave of cancellations that could sweep through the area and cause heavy economic turmoil.

What Caused the Yellowstone National Park Flood?

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. While the park is most famous for its geothermal features, including Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring, it is also home to a variety of other natural wonders.

Unfortunately, this famous park also suffers from natural disasters, such as in the summer of 2022.

What Caused the Summer 2022 Yellowstone Flood?

In June 2022, the park was hit by a massive flood that caused extensive damage to infrastructure and forced the evacuation of visitors and residents. Gardiner, Montana, at the park’s north entrance, was particularly hard hit.

The flood was caused by a combination of factors, including record-breaking rainfall, high temperatures, and rapidly melting snowpack.


The rainfall in the region leading up to the flood was indeed record-breaking. Over five inches of rain hit the Beartooth and Absaroka mountain ranges within three days. This deluge of rainwater caused rivers and streams to swell, eventually leading to flooding.

Future precipitation may go up by 9% to 15%. More intense rain is expected along with drought. A mixture of drought and brief heavy downpours spell disaster for the area when it comes to future flash floods.

Melting Snowpack and Glaciers

The melting of the snowpack played a role as it mixed with the rainwater and raised water levels even further. The same can be said for the melting glaciers, which also contributed to the floodwaters.

Climate Change

Climate change is believed to have played a role in the event, as the region has seen an increase in extreme weather events in recent years.

Regarding climate change, the area has experienced warmer-than-average temperatures. Since 1950, temperatures have risen by 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit, and it looks like they will continue to rise.

Yellowstone River

This river runs through the center of the park and is one of the most popular attractions in the area. The river was hit particularly hard by the flood, with extensive damage to its banks.

The Yellowstone River is expected to rise by another three feet by the end of the century due to climate change. During this flood, it saw a historical crest of 13.88 feet. The previous record was 11.5 in 1918.

Flash Floods

Flash floods are a danger in any region that experiences heavy rains, but they can be particularly devastating in an area like Yellowstone National Park.

The park’s geothermal features mean that there are many hot springs and geysers, which can heat up the floodwaters and make them even more dangerous.

This Won’t Be the Last Disaster for Yellowstone

While the summer of 2022 was certainly a disaster for Yellowstone National Park, the region is slowly recovering. Yellowstone tours are available once again, although some areas of the park are still off-limits due to damage.

This event was a stark reminder that the park is vulnerable to natural disasters. As climate change continues to affect the region, we can expect to see more extreme weather events in the future.