Business Is Booming At National Parks
Standing outside the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardner Montana you could tick through about two dozen state license plates in the time that it takes you to drink a coffee. That is normal in the summer. What's not normal is the people driving those cars doing stuff like this we rented a van and it has a Florida license sag but I put a sign in the back window that said we are not from Florida. Lynn Hunter and her family are from Kansas, your that Kansas, even grandson, Noah will tell you. Don't want anybody think we are same goes for just about any place that's been in the news recently for having spikes in Cova Cases Families like the hunters are driving national parks like yellowstone in droves right now, king to escape from wherever are trying to salvage a summer of stress and they know that it comes with risks we were scared to come really we've been planning it for a long time. So here they are at one of the country's first national parks and they're happy they did thing is the same is true for about one point five, million other people since mid-may Ricarda, raise, and his family are from North Carolina. Made. It will be a kind of a little bit but a lot of people out there over the last couple of weeks the number of cars entering the Gardner entrance at Yellowstone National Park are higher than they were at the same time. Last year restaurants have long waits rafting companies are struggling to find workers and fly fishing guides. Richard Parkes owner of parks fly shop says too bad anglers. There's just as many people casting for Yellowstone Brown or cutthroat trout as there's ever been before I. Think we're getting some people that are just refugee ing Outta those places that's great for his bottom line park says he makes between eighty and ninety percent of his annual earnings between June and September. But at seventy seven years old, it's also a bit worrisome. I'm official old. Flood. Is. One of the people inherently more vulnerable than others and I get a little nervous when? Some mob of people running in. No Mash, no apparent care of how many people showed in the place but that's the dance he's having to do yellowstone brings in more than six hundred, million dollars to its surrounding communities every year most of that in the summer nationally visitor ship to national parks generates more than forty billion dollars annually, and so even while there are concerns particularly around rural parks like yellowstone that outsiders may be bringing in more than just. Their pocket books during the pandemic it's a risk that many are willing to take and so foreign yellowstone it seems to be paying off definitely get for the business community I think that you know in May they may have thought that they might not make it through the end of the year, and now they're seeing record breaking numbers juries. PETKOFF is the executive director of Garner's Chamber of Commerce so far she says only. Two Park employees and three visitors have tested positive for COVID. She sure some have gone undetected, but the numbers thus far are encouraging. Typically visitation goes way slower October. So we only have more months to make it through. So I think everyone has kind of holding their breath and just hoping the community spread doesn't happen I. Don't think I've ever been in a summer that I wanted to end as quickly as this one. Camp Shali Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. There's not a day that I come to work where fearful of multiple employees testing positive for having symptoms yellowstone like many national parks around the country is limiting its services this summer to try and protect employees and visitors closing campgrounds in some cases or visitor centers. Social distancing and masks are strongly encouraged outside of the post office yellowstone's headquarters to mask bear statues serve as a reminder. But the National Park. Service overall has not mandated face coverings. Charlie says most visitors are doing a good job of protecting themselves and others, but not always. So He's urging people if you're sick. Are you have symptoms or you're not sure do us all a favor and don't come to the park or anywhere else for that matter Nathan Rot NPR News Gardner Montana.