Tourism

Flooding disruptive tourism in Yellowstone Gateway Communities

Park Hotel Yellowstone’s phone in Gardiner is ringing 24/7 with guests canceling summer bookings after historic flooding closed Yellowstone National Park this week.

“I get hundreds of emails and calls every day and try to keep up,” says Tami McDonald, hotel owner. “I’ve been up 20 hours a day trying to answer everyone and trying to figure out what to do and contact insurance companies who won’t contact us.”

McDonald is one of many business owners in Gardiner and nearby Yellowstone gate communities who are struggling with the loss of tourism for the foreseeable future after flooding damaged several roads between the park’s northern entrance near Gardiner, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley, and the city of Cook.

Many stretches of roads in these areas have been destroyed and will require “substantial time and effort to rebuild” and are unlikely to be open this season, according to National Park Service reports.

Without access to the north end of the park, many guests are canceling the summer bookings the city of Gardiner is counting on.

“It’s really important because everyone makes a living during the summer,” McDonald said.

McDonald said she’s spent the last two days answering hundreds of calls and emails from guests wanting to cancel their booking, and she’s still unsure if her and other businesses’ losses will be covered by insurance.

Kiana Linares, an employee at Gardiner’s Absaroka Lodge, said she also receives countless calls from guests canceling their summer bookings.

“Practically everyone canceled tickets until October,” Linares said. “There really isn’t much else to do with it. I’m sure some people will start leaving because there won’t be any work here.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the closure of many businesses, has hit many residents of Gardiner and other communities leading to Yellowstone National Park hard. McDonald said the flooding was an even bigger problem than the pandemic because the closure came so suddenly after food trucks and supplies arrived for the summer.

“We spent all this time collecting reservations, getting all of our help, getting their housing. All the trucks arrived, all the restaurants were equipped, everyone spent all that money on inventory. It’s really incomprehensible,” McDonald said. “I think we are so overwhelmed and overwhelmed that you feel lifeless.”

“Practically everyone canceled tickets until October. There really isn’t much else to do with this. I’m sure some people will start leaving because there won’t be any work here.”

Kiana Linares of Absaroka Lodge in Gardiner.

McDonald said she plans to keep the Park Hotel Yellowstone open and…

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