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Jackson Hole, WY News

From the air and on the ground, here's what Yellowstone looked like after the floods

Swollen rivers, empty boardwalks and overturned bridges occupied landscape.

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Yellowstone damage

Benches and parking lots sit empty at the Old Faithful visitor complex in the Upper Geyser Basin. Roughly 800,000 people on average visit Yellowstone National Park in June. After the floods, park officials evacuated at least 10,000 visitors. Park employees largely remained inside to help the park reopen.

Bill Berg, a longtime Gardiner, Montana, resident, had seen floods before: Two years in the mid-1990s when the “river came up pretty fierce.” But the Park County, Montana, commissioner wasn’t expecting the floods that ripped through the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem between June 12 and 13.

Berg knew it would rain — and that the Yellowstone River, which bypasses his property, would likely flood — so he went out the night before “the waters came up big” and pulled an irrigation pump on his property well above the high water mark from the ’90s. When he woke up in the morning the pump was half submerged.

Yellowstone Flood

Remains of the Carbella Bridge jut above the water just downstream of where it once stood north of Gardiner, Montana. Built in 1918, the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Videos taken of the historic single-span truss bridge as it washed down the river went viral last week.

Yellowstone Flood

Mud slides caused by flooding stacked silt along the Yellowstone River inundating a bathroom near the Joe Brown trailhead north of Gardiner, Montana.

Yellowstone Flood

Flood waters appear to have eddied into a vault toilet near the Joe Brown trailhead, depositing silt that buried the toilet and seems to have splashed the ceiling.

Yellowstone damage

Confluence of Alum Creek, bottom, and the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley. Sour Creek and Congress Creek also meet the Yellowstone at the top of the image. Hayden Valley is usually home to some of the best bison watching in the park. Only one car drove the road on June 15 when the News&Guide flew over.

Yellowstone Flood

A severed wastewater pipe sits beneath the collapsed North Entrance road. The wastewater has been diverted into a temporary system. For “probably a day and a half-ish,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said, wastewater flowed into the Gardner River. Massive water flows “diffused that wastewater very quickly,” he said. The park plans a permanent Mammoth Hot Springs facility that won’t require wastewater to go down canyon to Gardiner, Montana.

Yellowstone damage

Flooding June 12 and June 13 washed away part of the North Entrance road to Yellowstone National Park. Most damage occurred in river bends, where the force of rushing water was the strongest.

Yellowstone damage

With the park closed to visitors, an empty boardwalk runs along Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin on the afternoon of June 15.

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or barnold@jhnewsandguide.com.

Environmental Reporter

Billy Arnold has been covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the people who manage it since January 2022. He previously spent two years covering Teton County government, and a year editing Scene. Tips welcomed.

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