Roadwork Will Create Traffic Delays In Yellowstone This Summer

Work on a new bridge crossing the Lewis River in Yellowstone is progressing/NPS, Jacob W. Frank

Roadwork will slow your trip into Yellowstone National Park from the south this summer, while a project on the northern range will also cause some delays in the Lamar Valley.

The good news is that work on a new bridge spanning the Lewis River near the South Entrance is expected to conclude this fall, although the Yellowstone River Bridge project near Tower Junction won’t be completed until 2026.

The Lewis River Bridge project was long overdue. Back in 2018 the Park Service said the bridge, built in 1960, had reached old age and deteriorated to the point where it either needed “extensive rehabilitation” or to be completely replaced. A Federal Highway Administration Inspection Report cited by the park noted problems with the bridge’s concrete surface, foundation, and railings, and judged it to be in poor overall condition. Along with the decking and railing problems, the foundation that sinks beneath the river is being impacted by “scouring,” in which the river currents essentially dig out the sediments and rubble around the abutments.

The Yellowstone River Bridge was built in 1963. Inspectors have said the span was “seriously deficient or presents a safety hazard, but can remain in service at reduced loads or with frequent inspections.” It is part of the only road corridor in the park that is open year-round and plowed in the winter. 

Park staff suggest you plan your travels accordingly. Here’s a look at the projects and the delays they’ll cause:

Lewis River Bridge

Location: Nearly 10 miles north of the South Entrance on the South Entrance Road

Access: In 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: This project began in 2022 and will conclude fall 2024. It 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.

Yellowstone River Bridge

Location: Near Tower Junction along the Northeast Entrance Road

Access: In 2024, expect up to 30-minute 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.

Improvements: This project began in 2023 and will conclude fall 2026. It includes the replacement of the structurally deficient Yellowstone River Bridge built in 1961. 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 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.

Temporary delays or closures can happen at any time on park roads. Stay informed:

Visit Yellowstone’s website at Park Roads.

Call 307-344-2117 for recorded information.

Receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone by texting “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).

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.

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