Yellowstone: Four Road Projects Underway in Summer 2023 (Hopefully)
Written by Andrew-Rossi on March 27, 2023
Yellowstone National Park returns to critical road construction projects to improve and enhance the visitor experience, taking a sizeable chunk out of the park’s maintenance backlog.
There will be four major road improvement projects in Yellowstone National Park in 2023.
All four projects – Lewis River Bridge, Old Faithful to West Thumb, Yellowstone River Bridge, and Northeast Entrance Road – will cause delays. It’s important that visitors plan accordingly for these delays located along the park’s southern and northern road corridors.
The National Park Service (NPS) began the Old Faithful to West Thumb and Lewis River Bridge projects simultaneously in 2022 to complete both projects in a three-year window. Otherwise, impacts to visitors would have occurred over four to five years.
The park’s North Entrance (Gardiner, Montana) and Northeast Entrance (Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana) are open to all traffic with no restrictions.
Both road corridors were repaired after last year’s historic flood event.
Addressing the maintenance backlog is part of the National Park Service’s core mission to preserve national parks and provide a world-class visitor experience. Yellowstone has an asset inventory totaling $4.1 billion, with an estimated $1 billion in deferred maintenance and repairs associated with this inventory. The park also has an estimated $54 million in annual routine maintenance requirements.
To further Yellowstone’s investing in infrastructure strategic priority, the park is committed to developing a cogent deferred maintenance reduction plan, improving the quality of data and prioritization processes, and taking better advantage of current and future funding to improve asset conditions and protect investments.
Lewis River Bridge
Location: Nearly 10 miles north of the South Entrance on the South Entrance Road
Access: Beginning summer 2023 until fall 2024, expect up to 20-minute delays while roads are open to wheeled vehicles (May-Oct.31). Nearby pullouts and the trail to Lewis River Falls will be closed during construction.
Improvements: The project includes the removal and replacement of the Lewis River Bridge. The existing bridge will be removed, and a new bridge will be constructed immediately downstream. The project includes additional parking and viewing opportunities.
This project has been underway since 2020.
The project costs $31 million and is funded through the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund.
Old Faithful to West Thumb
Location: Grand Loop Road between Old Faithful and West Thumb
Access: Beginning summer 2023 until fall 2023, expect up to 30-minute delays along this segment of road while roads are open to wheeled vehicles (May-Oct. 31).
This project includes the rehabilitation of 22 miles of the Grand Loop Road between Old Faithful and West Thumb, one of the most heavily traveled road corridors in the park. Construction will include repaving the full 30-foot-wide roadway segment, which was last repaved in 1987 and has deteriorated due to heavy usage and winter weather conditions.
Additionally, guardrails, culverts and other drainage structures will be replaced to enhance visitor safety.
This project costs $43 million and is funded through the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund.
Yellowstone River Bridge
Location: Near Tower Junction along the Northeast Entrance Road
Access: Beginning summer 2023 until fall 2026, expect occasional and short traffic delays. The Northeast Entrance Road is open year-round to wheeled vehicles. Hiking trails in the area may temporarily close during the duration of the project. Visit the Backcountry Situation Report for details.
This project includes the replacement of the structurally deficient Yellowstone River Bridge built in 1963. A new 1,285-foot-long, 175-foot-high steel girder bridge upstream will replace the existing 604-foot-long bridge to preserve year-round access to/from the Northeast Entrance and communities of Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana.
New pullouts, paved parking areas, and a dedicated route across the new bridge will increase access to trails, fishing, and viewpoints. The Yellowstone River Picnic Area will be enlarged to accommodate increased visitor use.
This project costs $118 million and is funded through the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund.
Northeast Entrance Road (Flood Recovery)
Location: East of Tower Junction between Lamar Canyon and the Northeast Entrance
Access: Beginning early summer 2023 until fall 2023, expect up to 30-minute delays. The Northeast Entrance Road is open year-round to wheeled vehicles. Night work will occur (without overnight closures).
This project includes the completion of work to address flood-damaged areas of the road between Lamar Canyon and the Northeast Entrance. Construction will include the completion of a two-lane realignment in Lamar Canyon, paving a second lift north of the Trout Lake Trailhead, stabilization of streambanks adjacent to the road, and work in the Pebble Creek Campground and Warm Creek Picnic Area.
Additionally, some guardrails, culverts, and other drainage structures will be replaced to enhance visitor safety.
This project costs $25 million and is funded through the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads Fund.
Stay informed about park road conditions:
- Visit Yellowstone’s website at park roads.
- Receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone by texting “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).
- Call 307-344-2117 for recorded information.
Before traveling, check road conditions outside of Yellowstone in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Grand Teton National Park and view the park webcams to see current traffic conditions at the North and West entrances to Yellowstone.