Wyoming tourism exec urges Yellowstone Park visitors, 'Don't cancel'

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
·4 min read

The devastating flooding at Yellowstone National Park has a lot of summer tourists spooked into canceling their western vacations.

But Wyoming Office of Tourism Executive Director Diane Shober is urging visitors to salvage their plans, she expressed in an interview with Fox News Digital.

"My hope for this summer is that people don't cancel their trips," she said. "That they still come in and take advantage of this beautiful international global icon of nature."

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Shober referred to the mountain west region of the U.S. as "really phenomenal," especially the country’s least populated state and "last bastion of the west" also known as Wyoming.

"You can see all these beautiful, beautiful wildlife and scenic views and really have a taste of Western culture," she said. "I want all of us to be able to enjoy that – for visitors and residents."

Yellowstone National Park partially reopened seven days after flooding damaged homes and wiped out infrastructure.

The park's managers opened three of the park's five entrances, but put in place an odd–even rationing method to limit visitor access on given days. Cars with even-numbered last digits on their license plates can enter on even days and those with odd-numbered last numbers can enter on odd days, Fox News Digital reported Wednesday.

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Many travelers who intended on visiting parts of Yellowstone National Park that remain closed should instead consider visiting a plethora of other scenic landmarks in the area, Shober suggested.

Other units of the national park system in and around Wyoming include Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Devils Tower National Monument, Black Hills mountain range and Fort Laramie National Historic Site.

"We have really fabulous state parks in Wyoming," she said. "So, if you're looking for that kind of park experience, there's still a variety of places that you can experience."

Shober mentioned how most of Wyoming’s roadways travel through national forests for those who are road tripping.

The state of Wyoming, which is starkly square in shape, offers various regions that dip into features from other states such as the southwest corner’s high altitude desert landscape coming in from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Landmarks in this region include Fossil Butte National Monument, offering activities like fossil fishing, which Shober said is one example of the many sites that are "tucked away."

Shober, who was born and raised in northeast Wyoming, shared how her home state's small town landscape and consistent event schedule is one of her favorite features.

Since Wyoming’s largest city, Cheyenne, is still only made up of 65,000 people, Shober described that visitors really have the chance to "live like a local where western way of life is prevalent on main streets."

"There’s something to do all summer long," she said.

Wyoming's small towns such as Cody and Thermopolis stepped up to take in visitors who were evacuated from Yellowstone during floodings, according to Shober.

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"Hot Springs State Park is in Thermopolis [and] it’s probably one of the best dinosaur digs anywhere in the Mountain West," she said. "And they were thriving with people."

"We certainly knew that people were finding other things to do if they couldn’t be in Yellowstone," she added. "They’re enjoying themselves, and they were still making the best of their vacation."

Shober acknowledged how Yellowstone travel has always been known as a "great American road trip" for families, which is why the park has been working diligently to further reopening efforts.

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"The great news is that we're in a much better place today than we were a week ago," she said. "And the National Park Service, by the hard work of the folks in Yellowstone National Park, they've opened the South Loop."

Yellowstone is expected to open its North Loop within the next two weeks with the expectation of opening up about 80% of the park this summer.

Areas that will not be open this summer include Mammoth Hot Springs and the northern route along the Lamar Valley.

Even though the massive park stretches more than two million acres, Shober encouraged tourists to be prepared to plan a "bit differently" with these ongoing closures.

Fox News' Julia Musto and the Associated Press contributed to this report.