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West Yellowstone tourism returns after park re-opens

Posted at 8:03 AM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 10:06:46-04

WEST YELLOWSTONE — West Yellowstone lodging and tourism is recovering from the 10-day closure of the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Travis Watt, the mayor of West Yellowstone and general manager for Three Bear Lodge, projects that the month of July will see 80 to 85 percent occupation rate for reserved rooms at the lodge. On a typical year, Watt estimates the lodge being at 95 to 98 percent occupation.

“Yellowstone is still the calling card, once they started opening back up we started picking up as a community,” Watt said.

West Yellowstone lodging and tourism recovering from the ten-day closure of the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Kristy Coffin, administrator with West Yellowstone Tourist Business Improvement District, said some hotel reservation levels got down to 15 percent while the park was closed.

“That was a panic, because that’s your window right there,” Coffin said.

Following the flooding of the Yellowstone River, Watt estimates that his reservations went down to about 50 percent of where they would typically be.

“The uncertainty of knowing when we were going to open back up, so you had customers calling like crazy, the phones were going off the hook, emails, sometimes just the cancellations,” Watt said.

Watt is also a manager for See Yellowstone tours and noted that some reservations were canceled, then rebooked quickly. However, the impact of those 10 days the park closed will leave an impact, he said.

“July, August, September, that is when money is made in our community, so it’ll have an impact for sure,” Watt said. “It’s going to delay a lot of people’s decisions on whether to hire, or invest, or to take a fall vacation, those sorts of things.”