When parts of Yellowstone opened up to the public Friday, a lot people wasted no time getting into the park.
George Shelton is one of the millions of people who expected to lay their eyes on Old Faithful this year. But coming all the way from England, he has a little more appreciation for everything that Yellowstone has to offer.
“I saw a bear yesterday,” he said. “It was a black bear. We saw a black bear.”
The geyser, though, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience Shelton said he couldn’t miss.
This weekend, people will be able to get into all national parks free as part of National Parks Week. Click here for more information.
“Well we’ve got a GoPro there, which is constantly filming, We’ve got a few of them, and I got my camera here,” he said.
Shelton isn’t the only one to travel overseas to see the United States’ first national park.
“We have many international visitors and that is very much on the rise,” said Marysue Costello of the West Yellowstone, Montana, Chamber of Commerce.
The number of visitors is expected to increase with a new direct flight to be offered through Delta Skywest, which will allow people to travel directly from Salt Lake City to West Yellowstone.
“We’ve had turbo jet service in here for many years, but to actually have a regional jet coming in means that there will be a potential for many more visitors, almost by 40 percent (to) be able to come into West Yellowstone via airline,” said Costello.
This means more people like Paolo Cereba of Italy will chose Old Faithful over millions of other tourist destinations across the country.
“Actually, it was a dream of mine since I was a kid, and now with our friends it was a opportunity to vacation together, so it we took this road trip in the states, and our destination was Yellowstone,” said Cereba.
The West Yellowstone Chamber has worked to train its staff on working with international tourists. Many of its brochures and maps have been translated into more than 50 languages.
The park plans to beat last year’s record of more than 3 million visitors. Favorable weather this year should attract more tourists, officials said.