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Winter was kind to Island Park after rough summer

ISLAND PARK, Idaho (KIFI) - As the calendar says, winter is finally over and spring is here. In Island Park, the weather hasn't caught up with the calendar, as the main trails will continue to be groomed until March 24 allowing all of the last-minute snowmobile trips to be squeezed in.

Heavy snow fell in Island Park this past winter, but it wasn't bad as the snow brought in a large number of tourists to come and visit the Idaho side of the Yellowstone Caldera. Businesses in the area are reporting high revenues this past winter season.

The hotel and lodging industry in Island Park said the winter was phenomenal for them.

"Region five, which is our region, is up about 26% in lodging tax, which falls right in line with what the hotels and motels are saying," Island Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Collette Rinehart said.

Some places report being up nearly 35% over previous years.

"But (the), the month of January, we filled up every single weekend. February wasn't too far behind. December was good, November was decent, and March is okay so," Sawtelle Mountain Resort General Manager Richard Turpin said.

Snowmobile Rentals were popular this year as people came from all over to use the miles of trails found in the Island Park area to scoot over the snow in the backcountry.

"For the years I've been here, it's been ever-growing. We've seen consistent growth. This year has been no different. It's been amazing, especially with the snowfall we've seen. People travel from all over the US and all over the world. It's been real good," High Mountain Adventure Shop Manager Justin Severson said

With a large number of visitors, the restaurants in the area also were excited to see a good winter season.

"Connie's Restaurant is closed until May. They had a great season, she said. It was a great season, could have been better, but it was really good and very optimistic about next year," Rinehart said.

The only industry that suffered where the short-term lodging rentals in the area.

"The short-term rentals were saying that they did not meet expectations as far as the winter season. They're optimistic for a summer season, but they are seeing some people that are reserving now, but that is down from prior years as well," Rinehart said.

Others are hopeful for a strong summer also.

"Coming into this winter and doing as well as we have makes us hopeful. We are definitely looking good for summer 2023 people. It looks like they're booking things up and it looks like it's going to be a strong season for us up here," Turpin said.

"Our summers have been pretty strong, too, and also growing just as well. So I would say we've seen similar growth in the summertime," Severson said.

Overall, the winter season was kind to Island Park after a rough summer season. The focus is now being turned toward preparing for summer which so far seems to be promising.

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.


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