ISLAND PARK, Idaho (KIFI)- Yellowstone National Park is once again open to the public, but businesses in the gateway communities are still struggling to recover from the closure last month. Still, many busienss owners in Island Park remain optimistic for the future.
Richard Turpin is the general manager of the Sawtelle Mountain Resort. He says even though 937 of the park is now open, the resort is still seeing fewer people staying there. He tells us, "We're still seeing so many cancelations from the flooding, we're still seeing a decline in what we are used to experiencing for this time of year. So so we've got a little bit of ground to cover."
He says he's gotten lots of feedback from recent tourists passing though his resort. "People are loving it. They're going into the park right now. They're telling us there's no wait to get into the park. They get into the park and it's like there's nobody there." He says, "You know, if you've been to the park in the past and experienced the heavy summer traffic, it's completely the opposite."
Turpin also sees some hope in his efforts to spread the word of the park's reopening. He tells us "We've sent out some social media posts and some letters to all guests. You know, we've sent some emails out with promos. We've got some social media posts with promos. We've lowered our pricing." All of which he hopes continues to heal the loss from the floods in the park.
That sentiment is echoed by Mike Wilson, president of the Yellowstone Teton Tourism board. He is also the owner of the Drift Lodge. "We need to get the word out further and it can only make it more enjoyable if they stay with the license plate system, the county is even going to be less.," he says, "You may be seeing the Yellowstone of old when you could get around."
Wilson says he too is experiencing a downturn after the park closure, but remains hopeful. "You're not going to miss anything. He goes on to say "You know, if you were only planning on spending two days, you know, we can help you to see equal to what you would have on the day that was lost in the park."
Wilson is grateful for the park reopening as it has allowed him to get his fishing guides back into the park. "My guys are all in the park right now with clients, and we're not limited with. We can take you in any day of the week. It doesn't matter on the flights for that, we're worse. Commercial use approved. Commercial use provider. And we've had some great days."