With construction underway on Yellowstone National Park's Northeast Entrance Road near Cooke City/Silver Gate, access for bikers, anglers and hikers on the route is being restricted.
Major construction repairs by Oftedal Construction Inc. to road sections damaged in massive mid-June flooding were to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Beginning on July 13, 6 miles of the road had been open to bicyclists and pedestrian traffic as far as Barronette Meadow. Now the road is being closed near the Warm Creek Trailhead and picnic area, allowing walkers, anglers and cyclists access up to only 2 miles inside the park.
This will allow staging of equipment and materials needed to make temporary repairs, which are expected to be completed by Oct. 15, facilitating traffic between Cooke City/Silver Gate and on to Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming. Permanent repair of the roadway may take three to five years.
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Previously, park visitors could travel 6 miles into Yellowstone through the Northeast Entrance. To promote safe access within the active construction zone, the park is moving the barrier closer to the entrance to reduce potential conflicts between construction equipment and those on foot or bicycles.
Individuals using the road are reminded to be cautious and expect heavy equipment on the roadway. The highway's shoulders are narrow and several curves along the way limit visibility.
Completion of the temporary repairs is meant to have the route reopened to public travel in time for the winter snowmobiling and ski season in Cooke City and Silver Gate. The route through the park is the only plowed access to the communities in winter. If the work can't be done before winter, the towns will have to consider plowing "the plug," a section of Highway 212 on to the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Snowmobilers are against plowing this portion of the road since it provides a main trail out of Cooke City on to other snowmobile routes.