When Yellowstone National Park closed due to flooding last week, the hospitality industry in Fremont County stepped up to meet the needs of many displaced tourists who were looking for a place to stay.
“There are a lot of people,” Wind River Visitors Council executive director Helen Wilson said this week. “It’s been busy.”
She commended local residents who have been helping the tourists figure out “changes to plans and finding accommodations” – all while “being kind.”
“It’s a community effort to work with people that are coming through and to help them and to stay friendly,” Wilson said. “It’s just been really neat to see the whole community step up.”
‘Safety and communication’
In the immediate aftermath of last week’s closure at Yellowstone, Wilson said she and others in the local tourism industry set to work “making sure people were OK and seeing how we could help (them) replan or rebook their vacations.”
“The priority is safety and communication,” Wilson said. “Our thoughts go out to everybody who is affected.”
After addressing immediate needs, Wilson said the WRVC’s next focus was re-routing tourists to Fremont County who were “lingering” in the area “looking for other things to do.”
“Dubois isn’t too far away from Yellowstone,” she pointed out. “So if we can bring people over to go to the National Museum of Military Vehicles or the National Bighorn Sheep Center and explore the community there, (next) we can pull them a little bit further into the county.”
For example, several bus tours have made the trek south to Sinks Canyon State Park, Wilson said – using itineraries provided by the WRVC in collaboration with the local community.
Bus tours are a “big deal” in Yellowstone, Wilson said, but they rarely venture into Fremont County.
Last week was different.
“When you suddenly realize you can’t … take a group of 40 people to where you were planning, you need to have other ideas,” Wilson said. “Sinks Canyon State Park was very accommodating. … They’re used to tourists, and they’re ready to do tours on short notice.”
“Only half of them can get in,” Wilson said. “(So) we are anticipating large crowds. … It’s going to continue to be busy.”
The WRVC’s June newsletter includes a list of local activities residents can point tourists to in Fremont County.
Additional information about local lodging and events is available on the WRVC website.