Park Service closes Yellowstone road – Underground heat is melting the asphalt

The National Park Service has closed Firehole Lake Drive in Yellowstone National Park  because  geothermal heat has melted the asphalt.

Yellowstone Road Melting - July 2014
Yellowstone Road Melting – Credit: National Park Service

“Extreme heat from surrounding thermal areas has caused thick oil to bubble to the surface, damaging the blacktop and creating unsafe driving conditions,” says a park release announcing the closure.

Firehole Lake Drive – 3.3-mile loop about 6 miles north of Old Faithful – is a popular, scenic road, located off the Grand Loop Road halfway between Old Faithful and Madison Junction in the park’s Lower Geyser Basin, the press release said.

Closure of the  road, which normally takes travelers past Great Fountain Geyser, White Dome Geyser, and Firehole Lake, has occurred at the height of the tourist season.

Park crews are still park crews assessing what repairs are needed.

In the meantime, park officials warned visitors not to hike into the affected area, where the danger of stepping through solid-looking soil into boiling-hot water was high.

Steaming potholes in asphalt roads and parking lots — marked off by traffic cones — are fairly common curiosities.

However, the damage to the road is “unusually severe,” reports the AP.

Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117, or visit:

Thanks to Jack Hydrazine, Stephanie Relfe and Laresa Hubbs for these links

14 thoughts on “Park Service closes Yellowstone road – Underground heat is melting the asphalt”

  1. Lived in E. Idaho went to Y’stone many times. You can see skeletons in the bottoms of those boiling pools in a number of locations. Surprisingly, lots of dogs that got off-leash and jumped in attracted by the bubbles. Best time to visit: Winter, get a multi-day snowmobile tour, it’s a magical place.

    • oh that is sad, be horrific for the dogs owners to cope with.
      wouldnt think of taking mine somewhere like that as the hot ground would surely be bad for their pads , let alone toxic fumes and residues in the soil.

      now, while they say this isnt unusual?
      isnt some 6k out from the area a bit of a long distance? ie something underground has spread/moved?
      elsewhere some weeks back there was mention of the onsite seismic monitors going offline?
      anyone know more on that?

  2. Just put some sand/gravel on top of the road and open it.

    But of course, the government will spend millions of dollars and years to explore a solution.

  3. Well at least there’s no risk of glaciation in Yellowstone now LOL. However, we are still worried about Yogi Bear. Hope he doesn’t come to a sticky end in that molten tar:-/

  4. Who said Yellowstone is a dead system that might never erupt again? Eruption isn’t a matter of if but when.
    Enjoy the park while you can.

    The parks service may as well lay out some gravel on the hot asphalt and patch any cracks and holes in the pavement.

  5. Melting asphalt, cluster quakes at Mammoth Lakes, St. Helens sloshing around – looks like something is moving around the northwest

  6. In my younger days ventured the mountains here, I did love to scout.
    While on the crest of Pilot Mountain noticed several locations where rocks had melted into a single formation.
    We jokingly looking at the formations that either the aliens had used these for landing zones or volcanic activity was involved.
    Years later going going through the scout journals of this region before the white man settled it was stated the the Poteau Mountain range was still smoldering.
    Over the last 2 years have noticed that the crown appears to have the trees being stressed and dying from heat stress.
    The largest fault line in the U.S. runs under this range and has quaked notably since 1988.
    Guess if it gets to chilly down here in the valley if it is not already to crowded can always go to the range to get some veggies.

    See Ya

  7. This “Extreme heat from surrounding thermal areas” is not melting the snow at the side of the road. Why is that?

  8. not the only place this is happening. I’ve heard reports last month that smoke and even magma bubbling to the surface is also occurring in many other areas of the world where it has not happened before. This likely means that the magnetic reversal is due soon.

  9. The Billings Gazette (July 10, 2014)reports, “Unusually warm weather for Yellowstone — with high temperatures in the mid-80s — has contributed to turning the road into a hot, sticky mess.”

    The Facebook page for Yellowstone National Park, dated June 6, 2014 reported, “Early summer in Yellowstone doesn’t always bring warm temperatures! Look for daytime highs this weekend in the 50s and 60s Farenheit, with overnight low temperatures in some areas of the park forecast to get near or even below freezing. In fact, the National Weather Service office in Riverton, Wyo., is forecasting some fresh snow to fall this weekend on the higher mountain peaks in and around the park.” Yellowstone NP, Facebook page on May 23, 2014 stated, “We’re taking guesses about when Yellowstone Lake will be given the “all clear” from ice.”

  10. why is only the middle of the road melting and not completely across it? the pic shows both asphalt sides of the road not melted. seems if heat from deep in the earth caused it, the whole road would melt, since the whole road is asphalt!

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