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Rising River Levels Expected to have Little Impact on Yellowstone Visitors

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Date: July 6, 2011
Contact: Al Nash, 307-344-2015

National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
July 6, 2011 11-072   
Al Nash or Dan Hottle (307) 344-2015

Rising River Levels Expected To Have Little Impact On Yellowstone Visitors

Warm summer temperatures are causing rapid melting of last winter’s record snowpack which lingers high in the mountains. The resulting high water levels are impressive, but expected to have little impact on visitors to Yellowstone National Park.

The National Weather Service is forecasting the Yellowstone River at Fishing Bridge to approach record levels this coming weekend. The river level is forecast to reach 8.8 feet on Saturday, just shy of the 8.9 feet record which was set on June 18, 1997. Flood stage is 9.0 feet.

While other rivers in Yellowstone including the Lamar, Gardner, Gibbon, Madison, Firehole, Lewis, and Snake Rivers are running high and fast, none are forecast to reach flood level.

What most visitors are likely to notice is the high water flow of the Yellowstone River over the Upper and Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Walkways along the Yellowstone River on either side of the historic Fishing Bridge are already under water, as is Gull Point Drive, a short scenic side trip off the Grand Loop Road south of Bridge Bay. Areas near Pelican Creek east of Fishing Bridge and along Elk Antler, Trout, and Alum Creeks in Hayden Valley look more like shallow lakes due to high water.

Turbid, fast running water in park rivers and streams can have a negative impact on the success of anglers. Some campsites and trails remain closed due to the ongoing impacts of snow, high water, and muddy conditions.

Visitors are reminded to exercise extreme caution around high or fast moving water. Rocks and soil along lake, river and stream banks may be slippery or unstable. Water may be moving faster than it appears, and can be powerful enough to knock someone off their feet. Immersion in cold water can quickly lead to hypothermia, a life-threatening condition.

The nearly 700 mile long Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states. It originates high in southeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park flowing north and east until it empties into the Missouri River near the Montana-North Dakota border.

The recent crude oil spill on the Yellowstone River occurred west of Billings, Montana, 175 miles downstream from the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park. It has no impact or potential to impact park resources.

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