Wyoming To World: We’re Still Open For Business

Communities near Yellowstone are trying to get the message out that just because Yellowstone is closed doesn't mean the rest of Wyoming isn't open for business.

Wendy Corr

June 16, 20225 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The closure of Yellowstone National Park during the height of the tourist season has left tourism-dependent businesses in and around the park scrambling.

But communities surrounding Yellowstone are encouraging visitors to come to the region anyway.

Each month in the summer, an average of 1 million visitors come through the five gates of Yellowstone, bringing a necessary economic boost to the communities in the outskirts of the Park. With the closure of the entire Park for a week, and the northern area of the Park for the rest of the summer, many tourists are canceling their plans to visit northwest Wyoming.

Open For Business

But Diane Shober, Director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism, told Cowboy State Daily that the message should be instead, Wyoming is still open for business.

“To the rest of the country, Wyoming was never closed,” she said. “Yellowstone National Park has been temporarily closed. We don’t want any of those people who have plans throughout the summer to cancel those. We still want people to come to Wyoming.”

Shober said that the messages coming from the state tourism office in recent days have been directed to the visitors whose plans were canceled when Yellowstone closed Monday.

“This week has been more triage messaging around people who are already here, or who are on their way, to try to help them plan ahead, make plans, be ready to do other things,” said Shober.

Come to Cody

Yellowstone National Park isn’t the only game in town, pointed out Tina Hoebelheinrich, director of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce.

“What we’re really telling folks is, you know, to base camp here in Cody,” said Hoebelheinrich. “We’ve always said that Cody is a destination on its own. We have lodging available right now, we have tent spots available right now, we have camping spots available right now. And so when the park does become available, it’ll be a great spot to be in.”

A Facebook thread for Cody residents listed a variety of ideas for visitors who can’t get into Yellowstone. From the Pryor Mountains north of Lovell to Ten Sleep at the base of the Bighorns, there are day trips and activities for tourists to enjoy.

“Don’t forget Old Trail Town and the museum in Meeteetse,” wrote one Cody resident. “Nightly rodeo, gunfights at the Irma… and all the wonderful shops on main street and other locations around town.”

“Sometimes we forget what there is to offer, as we take it for granted,” he continued.

Don’t Forget Greybull

Deanna Werner is the director of the Greybull Chamber of Commerce. She said she’s been in contact with some of the other Chambers in the area, reminding them that the Bighorn Mountains have a lot for visitors to experience.

“I’ve been pushing the golf course, the dinosaur track site, the Bighorn Mountains for camping and fishing,” Werner told Cowboy State Daily.

“We have just as much here in the Bighorns as they do in Yellowstone – we just don’t have as many buffalo or geysers,” she said.

Rodeo And More

Sarah Growney owns The Thistle, a gift shop in Cody. She told Cowboy State Daily that it’s important for the word to get out that there is still a great deal to do and see, even though Yellowstone is temporarily closed.

“We’ve got the rodeo, we’ve got the Trolley, we’ve got paddle boarding and kayaking,” Growney said. “And even in Red Lodge (Montana), they just posted today that their business district is open now. So I just feel like we need to get that across, that it’s still a great destination. I still feel like, because of the beauty of it, the east entrance is the best entrance.”

That type of communication with visitors is exactly what Shober advises to mitigate any economic loss from the closure of Yellowstone.

“The opportunity for the local community to engage with them right now is really key to having people stick around,” she said.

Still Busy

Growney said because many tourists have been unexpectedly shut out of Yellowstone, she’s actually had a very busy day at her store.

“I’ve had people in my shop who definitely had planned on going to Yellowstone and were unable to go,” she said. “For me personally, I feel like I’m kind of benefiting right now from having some people trapped in town.”

But Growney pointed out that news about Yellowstone’s closure may scare off potential visitors for the rest of the summer – so she said it’s important that the word gets out that Wyoming is still open for business.

“The tour buses can still come through,” she said. “They’re not going to be prohibited. So I think we need to get that out to you know, not just locally but nationally.” 

“Take a moment, stop in the small towns,” Shober added. “There’s plenty of things to see and do.”

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Wendy Corr

Broadcast Media Director