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After flooding in 2022, the Boiling River in Yellowstone National Park faces an uncertain future



Yellowstone National Park, Montana – In Yellowstone National Park, historic flooding destroyed a local favorite, and almost a year later, it appears that the Boiling River will remain permanently closed.

However, frequent visitors like Dean Stephens of Bozeman are clinging to the possibility that the unique soaking spot may return.

“It didn’t exist in its state until people took the time to build the pools,” Stephens said.

The Boiling River is a part of the Gardner River where humans piled boulders to mix hot and cold waters to create ideal soaking pools. Hot, thermal water pours into the freezing river.

Stephens has cherished this location for many years.

“I moved here from the South in 1996 to work in the park and that’s when I discovered the Boiling River,” Stephens said. “Once I had children a lot of times that’s we where we would go to celebrate Easter.”

The Boiling River, however, has been inaccessible for more than three years after initially closing in 2020 due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Then, as a result of Mother Nature’s labor, the Boiling River as we knew it vanished after devastating floods in 2022.

Photos taken before and after the floods reveal that the area where the Boiling River once flowed is now a stony terrain.

Currently, the location is not even accessible because the road is blocked and severely damaged by flooding.

“If you see a closed sign, obey the sign it’s there for a reason,” said Brett Raeburn, Digital Media Specialist for Yellowstone Nat’l Park. “It’s there for not only the safety of this natural place that we’re trying to protect, but it’s also there for your safety.”

The National Park Service states that swimming is not permitted or even possible in the area and that it is unknown if or when the soaking pools may be rebuilt.

“Know that we’re not trying to be the fun police, if you see a closed sign it’s for a reason and it benefits you the visitor to pay attention to that closure,” Raeburn said.

The Old Mammoth Highway was upgraded by the Park Service to reopen Yellowstone to tourists, however, it is located well above Gardner River access.

However, Stephens and other fans of hot springs believe there might be a possibility to rebuild it and link the region with a long trail.

“Obviously the flood re-channeled the river and possibly it’s not the same, but that doesn’t mean that it’s gone,” Stephens said.

Park rangers say there is still a lot to look forward to when visiting Yellowstone Park a year after the floods as summer tourist picks up.

“This year is the first year in several years that we’ve had in-person ranger programs, so we’re really excited about that,” Raeburn said. “Most of the park has opened up since the flood last year, it’s amazing to see how things have come back together. So we’re getting back to normal this year.”


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