CODY — Flooded roads in Yellowstone that closed the park for nine days, then shut down northern entrances for the summer, cut park visitation almost by half in June.
But, Yellowstone’s eastern gateway community in Wyoming, Cody, is recovering.
Cody has been Yellowstone’s eastern gateway community for more than a hundred years. And now that only three entrances to the park are still open, it is even more important to Yellowstone visitors.
“I think a lot of people are choosing to base camp. They’ll pick a place like Cody, Wyoming, and they’ll travel in and out of the park, instead of trying to stay in the park," Cody Chamber CEO Tina Hoebelheinrich said.
Hoebelheinrich said after the park’s short closure, the visitor center was slammed.
“The first three days of the closure we saw a thousand people a day in our visitor center here," she said.
Park officials said Yellowstone’s June visitation was down 43% from last year, which was a record year with more than 5 million visitors for 2021.
But the executive director of Park County’s Travel Council estimated the lodges in and around Cody were down about 20%, although some lost as much as 50%.
“We have definitely picked up. Prices are down, and it’s a great time to travel. The peak's pricing is off,” Moose Creek Lodge owner Larry King said.
King said his guests often plan to stay just a night or two.
“But, what I’m also seeing is people coming into town, and they realize how much there is, and they’re extending their stay,” he said.
Center of the West spokesman Ken Straniere said visitation dipped right after the park closed, but their parking lot is full now.
“As we can offer these wonderful experiences here, and we have the five museums, there’s a reason for people to keep coming and staying in Cody,” he said.
Cody’s Chamber Director gives credit to Yellowstone’s leadership for helping the East Entrance community survive, and thrive after the historic flooding.
“Their reaction time could have been so much different, and I give a lot of that credit to (Yellowstone National Park) Superintendent (Cam) Sholly. You know, he is a gateway kid himself,” Hoebelheinrich said.