Aftermath of Yellowstone Flooding Creates Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity for Last-Minute Vacationers
Visitor Numbers Way Down, Wildlife Sightings Up, and Plenty of Rooms and Campsites Available
CODY, Wyo., July 25, 2022 – The clocks have not been turned back in Cody Yellowstone. It just feels that way.
June flooding in Yellowstone National Park has resulted in a rash of cancellations of rooms, cabins and campsites. Traffic is down and wildlife sightings are up. Yellowstone National Park Service (NPS) in a news release today said that visitor numbers in June were 536,601, a 43 percent drop compared to June 2021 – the most-visited June on record – when there were 938,845 recreation visits during the month. The last time there were that few visitors in the park in June was 2001, when the NPS recorded 507,737 visitors for the month.
Not surprisingly, year-to-date recreation visits have also taken a nose-dive. During a year when visitation to the world’s first national park was supposed to have been record-breaking because of the park’s 150th anniversary and a renewed enthusiasm for road-tripping, year-to-date recreation visitation was 1,268,053, reflecting a 20 percent drop over 2021.
Notably, of course, the park was closed post-floods from June 13 through June 21, and three gates – the East, South and West – reopened on June 22.
“The last time this few travelers this few travelers visited during the peak summer month of June, Harry Potter was taking Hogwarts by storm, Dell was the world’s largest computer maker and a tank of gas was $1.46,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director of Cody Yellowstone, the marketing arm for the region that includes the gateway community of Cody to the east of the park as well as about 50 percent of the park. “This year may very well be the best opportunity in a lifetime to visit Cody Yellowstone.”
Although it will be well into August before NPS releases visitation reports for July, there have been anecdotal reports that the visitation is not yet bouncing back. “Cody visitors who have already visited the park have reported seeing Old Faithful eruptions in relative solitude, seeing very few other hikers when exploring popular park trails and encountering far less traffic than you would normally expect this time of year,” said Hauck. Hauck noted prospective vacationers can see the park’s conditions by viewing the park’s webcams.
The unprecedented visitation situation is directly a result of premature cancellations following the mid-June floods that impacted the northern area of the park, said Hauck. Although the park is almost completely re-opened with 93 percent of the park’s roadways, three of the park’s five gates and all but two of the park’s hotels opened, many vacationers opted to cancel – and not rebook – their vacations.
And it’s not just the visitation that is unusual this year. The park’s bison, bears, elk, deer, bighorn sheep and wolves seem to be loving the human sparsity, as visitors are reporting seeing abundant wildlife during a season when the park’s full-time residents normally head for the cooler and quieter backcountry.
Cody is located 52 miles from the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park. The road to the park travels through the scenic Wapiti Valley following the northfork of the Shoshone River. Called the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway, the road is dotted with dude and guest ranches and travels through the Shoshone National Forest – the world’s first national forest. Wildlife such as bighorn sheep and eagles along with the occasional moose and bear can often be viewed along the way.
Hotels and Campgrounds
Travelers will find availability at even the most popular hotels such as the historic Irma Hotel in downtown Cody and Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone. There are also plenty of sites available at popular RV campgrounds such as the Ponderosa Campground in downtown Cody, Buffalo Bill State Park campground and the historic and recently renovated Fishing Bridge Campground inside Yellowstone.
Nearly all of the park’s most famous sights like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Upper Geyser Basin – home of Old Faithful and hundreds of other thermal features – are open. In addition, all of Cody is open, including its classic attractions such as the Cody Nite Rodeo, Buffalo Bill Center of the West and Old Trail Town and all hotels, campgrounds, dude and guest ranches.
The only parts of the park that remain closed include the road from Gardiner, Mont. and the park’s North Gate to Mammoth Hot Springs, the northern park road through Lamar Valley and the Northeast Gate as seen in this map. East Gate to Cody, West Gate that leads to West Yellowstone, Mont. and South Gate that leads to Grand Teton National Park Jackson, Wyo. are all open.
Accommodations and many attractions can be booked online.
Home of the Great American Adventure, Cody Yellowstone is comprised of the northwestern Wyoming towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as areas inside of Yellowstone National Park and the valley east of the entrance. The region is known for rodeos, authentic guest and dude ranches, world-class museums and recreational adventures that reflect the adventurous spirit of the visionaries and explorers who brought the remote region to the world’s attention.
Mesereau Travel Public Relations