Tourists In Limbo: Can’t Reschedule Or Get Refunds On Costly Yellowstone Trips

Tourists across the nation are in limbo because they aren't able to cancel their vacation plans to Yellowstone due to nonrefundable travel packages. "I am devastated," said one traveler.

Ellen Fike

June 14, 20225 min read

Yellowstone closed
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Some people who had planned the trip of a lifetime to Yellowstone National Park are now waiting to see if they will even be able to enter the park in the wake of historic floods that forced the park’s closure this week.

On Monday, Yellowstone closed all of its entrances and began removing all visitors from the park as flooding caused by torrential rain and melting snow damaged park roads and infrastructure.

In Limbo

Now future visitors, some of whom cannot reschedule or get a refund for planned trips to Yellowstone, are in limbo wondering what to do.

One Michigan woman said she is coming out to Yellowstone even if it’s still closed because it’s too late to get a refund.

Nanette Marie, from East Lansing, Michigan, asked an online Yellowstone group to be “kind” when she asked for suggestions, not wanting to come across as not caring about people who have lost their homes in the flood.

“I am one of those that have a vacation planned they are starting on Saturday but I can no longer cancel,”Marie said. “I am an hourly employee and have been saving and planning this trip for over a year with my family.”

“Could we start a list of things to do outside of the park?” she asked. “Please only helpful suggestions and not criticism.”

Most respondents were helpful and had a list of suggestions for Marie.

Not Rescheduling

Virginia resident Ellen Woods told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that her family had planned to vacation at the park next week, staying at Island Park, Idaho, and touring the park over a multi-day period. This would be the Woods family’s first visit to the park.

“We wanted to see and experience the beauty that Yellowstone has to offer,” she said. “We love to do anything outdoors, so we just knew Yellowstone was the place for us.”

“We planned on doing lots of hiking and walking while there so that we could experience what the park has to offer and not just take the pictures to put on social media just to say we have been there,” she said. “We wanted to cherish our time in Yellowstone because our 4-month-old son will be with us and this is his first big trip.”

Now, the family must wait to see what news is announce about the park’s status over the next few days, as they plan to leave Virginia on Sunday. Since the trip is set to begin soon, the family cannot reschedule it or receive a refund if it were canceled.

While she is disappointed at the likelihood of not being able to see the entire park, Woods said she is more concerned about the safety of the people in the surrounding areas.

“We are hoping that with no more rain in the forecast and warmer weather, maybe we will be lucky enough for the lower (southern) loop to re-open at some point during the week, so that we can see at least some of the park,” Woods said. 

“If the park remains closed, we’ve come up with some other ideas and places to visit so that we will still be able to enjoy our time in the area. Our motto is ‘We will make the best of it and make memories that will last us a lifetime.,'” she said.

Honeymoon No More?

Lexington, Kentucky, resident Jennifer Lopez (not the actress/singer) told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that she is also currently waiting to find out more news about the status of the park and surrounding area, as she and her fiance intended to visit the Mountain West region for their honeymoon next month.

The couple, who have never been to Yellowstone, intended to camp in the park at some point during their trip. They still have their reservations booked, since the situation is still so new.

As an environmental educator and generally “outdoorsy” person, Lopez is still looking forward to the trip, even if she is unable to do everything she originally planned.

“I work at a STEM school for girls here in Kentucky, so we’ve actually been doing lessons related to the trip, so they could follow along with where I’d be going,” Lopez said. “This was kind of like a dream vacation for us. But even if they do close the northern portion of the park, we’ll still come out there and adjust.”

Lopez said that as a teacher, she is also a planner at heart. Although the schedule shift may cause some anxiety for her, she is still excited about all of the wildlife she and her future husband will see when they arrive out West next month.

No VRBO Insurance

Mandy Whiley, from Jessieville, Arkansas, said she was “devastated” upon learning that her rental home is non-refundable.

“Well it looks like our trip to Gardiner is a bust for July 10-15. I stupidly did not get trip insurance for our VRBO and it’s past the cancellation period,” she said on a Yellowstone Facebook page.

She said if she doesn’t get the $3,600 she’s already paid for the rental home in Gardiner, she can’t afford to go anywhere else.

“I am waiting to hear back from the VRBO host,” she said. “If the property is okay, we will still go and do what we can, but the rental is right on the river. I am devastated.”

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Ellen Fike