Yellowstone National Park’s South Loop Reopening

The devastating floods that hit Yellowstone National Park in mid-June of 2022 forced the park to close for over a week and for all Yellowstone guided tours to get canceled. However, the park started letting visitors into the south loop on June 22 to help increase economic flow to the area. The park’s access will be restricted during this recovery period using the Alternating License Plate System.

What Is the Alternating License Plate System?

While Yellowstone south loop tours are now available for visitors, the north loop is still closed. The Alternating License Plate System or ALPS will help restrict visitors to prevent stressing the park’s recovery effort. Entry will be based on both the days of the month and a person’s license plate. The rules for this system start by gauging a few simple factors:

  1. Whether each visitor’s license plate number’s last digit is odd or even
  2. If the day of the week is odd or even, such as June 24 being an even day
  3. Letting in the appropriate visitors based on if their last digit matches the day

So, if a visitor’s license plate reads “B34 3323” they would be let in on all odd days but not on even days. Personalized license plates will fall into the odd category if they use all letters and will use the last digit available if the plate features numbers and letters. For example, if a plate reads “T0D 4EVR,” the plate would be even because of the four.

Exceptions to This Rule

Any commercial use operators with active commercial use permits for Yellowstone will be allowed to enter the park, regardless of license. The same is true of commercial motor coaches, essential service operators, and overnight visitors. For example, someone staying overnight in the park who leaves for the day won’t be barred from coming back to camp if their plate is odd on an even day.

Motorcyclists and motorcycle groups, which make up a heavy portion of visitors to the park, will be allowed to visit only on even days. However, groups staying in the park will be allowed to come and go, as long as they have valid overnight camping permits. Overnight use will be available from trailheads in the south starting on July 1 and not before.

Planning Yellowstone Guided Tours

If you’re interested in Yellowstone south loop tours, it is important to know that some things remain closed in the park until further notice. These include the Canyon Village lodges and cabins, the Canyon, Madison, Lewis Lake, and Norris Cabins, and the Fishing Bridge visitor center and trailside museum.

Park managers are currently attempting to reopen roads throughout Canyon Village, Tower Junction, and Mammoth Hot Springs, though the current timeline for reopening will vary based on their overall progress. Thankfully, Yellowstone guided tours should be available for many sections of the park, and rangers will discuss appropriate destinations with each tour guide to ensure safety and security.