Chinook Helicopter Airlifts Stranded Front Loader From Yellowstone Flood Damage

How do you rescue a big machine from an impassable road? Get a bigger machine.

byStef Schrader|
Culture photo
Yellowstone National Park


Yellowstone National Park is still in rebuilding mode after being pummeled by massive June floods. The United States' first national park is known for having some pretty hefty machinery around to keep everything in working order, and this front loader that got stuck on damaged roads is no exception. The answer? Get the Montana Army National Guard to help out with an even larger machine: a Chinook helicopter. 

Yellowstone's front loader was stranded on North Entrance Road in Gardner Canyon, one of the roads that was the most heavily damaged in this summer's floods. Entire sections of North Entrance Road were destroyed by mudslides and raging floodwaters, leaving this piece of equipment with nowhere to go. 

That's where the Montana Army National Guard’s 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion came in to help. Yellowstone National Park posted some pretty incredible photos on its social media channels of the National Guard's CH-47 Chinook helicopter lifting the John Deere 624 to a less damaged part of the park. 

Yellowstone National Park

The tires and bucket were removed for the front loader's flight, but a Yellowstone National Park representative who commented on Facebook estimated it still weighed around 21,000 pounds. It was a real test for the helicopter as well. Doug Smith, who says he worked on the flight, also commented on Facebook that it was close to the Chinook's maximum capacity for the location's elevation, and that even the helicopter was stripped of unnecessary equipment before the flight. For reference, Yellowstone's North Entrance sits at 5,344 feet, per Topozone

At the time of this writing, the North and Northeast Entrances entrances remain closed to visitors as the park continues to rebuild. 

The Montana Army National Guard team who fetched Yellowstone's stranded front loader. Yellowstone National Park

Got a tip? Contact the author: