'They were pretty livid:' Tourists and rangers forced to leave national parks in Wyoming

2013-10-02T06:00:00Z 2014-01-09T17:23:04Z 'They were pretty livid:' Tourists and rangers forced to leave national parks in WyomingBy KYLE ROERINK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

The world famous Irma Hotel in Cody was raucous on Tuesday morning.

Thanks to a polarized Congress, a government shutdown booted tourists from all over the globe out of Yellowstone National Park.

Travelers prematurely exiting the park through the East Entrance sought shelter at the Irma, a hotel hand-built by Yellowstone pioneer Buffalo Bill Cody.

In broken English, Asians and Europeans explained their dilemma to Steve Franklin, a host at the hotel.

“They were pretty livid,” he said.

Franklin also received a swarm of phone calls early in the morning. People were canceling their upcoming trips to Yellowstone and — consequently — their stop at the Irma.

“It’s been going both ways,” Franklin said.

The national parks are looked upon as one of the biggest victims of the congressional intransigence that led to the shutdown. Tuesday’s Google “doodle” on its web search homepage had a sketch of national park patches commemorating the 123rd birthday of Yosemite National Park.

But the birthday homage came without any celebration. All parks closed their gates at 8 a.m. Tuesday. No new visitors will be allowed to enter until Congress passes a temporary budget to fund the government. The National Parks Service website wasn’t running. Thousands of park employees throughout the nation were furloughed and told to go home and wait for Congress to solve the dilemma.

A national park vacation may be high on the bucket lists of many American and international travelers, but with the shutdown in place, those who traveled across borders and oceans to Grand Teton and Yellowstone will have to do one of two things: hope Congress works out a deal so they can enter the park or make new plans before they go home.

The government shutdown spoiled the 4,000 mile national park tour planned by Alice and Richard Newman. When they departed from Yellowstone Tuesday morning, guards and barricades were blocking the entrance. They canceled their reservations at the north entrance town of Gardiner. They took a drive on the Beartooth and Chief Joseph highways and wound up at the Irma.

“It’s a big change,” Alice Newman said. “I keep thinking it will get settled.”

Their fall trip also included visits to Mount Rushmore, Bryce Canyon, Zion and other parks, but the shutdown has things on hold. The couple was excited to hear Mount Rushmore could be seen from the highway.

When they drove through Yellowstone after news of the park closing they saw the morbid mood of a shutdown kick in.

“You see the ramifications of the people whose livelihood depend on this and the sick look on their faces,” Richard Newman said.

At Grand Teton there was resistance by some visitors to leave, said park superintendent Mary Gibson.

Travelers were trying to cross blocked entryways. Rangers stopped them. Foul language and unfit behavior erupted out of the upset tourists.

No one was charged or arrested — they were just flustered with the state of government. Dealing with unhappy people is unfamiliar territory for park staff, Gibson said.

“[The shutdown] is devastating to morale,” she said. “It is not something any member of the National Park Service is wired to do. It is our nature to welcome and educate and bring visitors in to the park.”

Two hundred Grand Teton and 529 Yellowstone employees received furlough notices Tuesday.

Visitors were given 48 hours to exit the parks, and park administrators worked to get backcountry adventurists out as soon as possible.

More than 520 people spent Monday evening in Grand Teton National Park. More than 515 were booked for Tuesday. Yellowstone had strong numbers in attendance, according to park spokesman Al Nash.

Yellowstone averages 54,000 visitors in the first week of October, Nash said.

“That’s not quite the same number as our summer peak, but it has impacts,” Nash said. “Revenues for the park are associated with that and a significant financial impact to gateway communities that serve park visitors.”

The Cody Country Chamber of Commerce expects to lose between $200,000 and $300,000 per day if the shutdown lasts for more than a few days, said Scott Balyo, executive director of the chamber.

The Jackson Hole Chamber expects to lose $4 million, said Rick Howe, director of visitor services at the chamber.

The National Parks Conservation Association, park advocates and lobbyists in Washington, expect gateway communities throughout the country to lose $30 million per day in the shutdown.

Even though the majority of federal workers had been furloughed on Tuesday, the U.S. House passed a bill that would fund most national parks, D.C. city government and certain arms of the Veteran Affairs Department.

In a continued showing of the stalemate between both chambers of Congress, the Senate rejected the House bill and demanded legislation that would fund a fully operational government.

For federal employees the threat of a shutdown is nothing new. In the past three years, the government has come to the brink of shutdown at least twice.

Park advocates are weary of the constant budget battles that keep the fear of furloughs in the minds of employee. For an agency that spurs $30 billion in consumer spending every year, the 13 percent decrease in the NPS budget in the past three years has been tough to swallow along with the fear of furloughs.

It’s unfortunate that all the federal agencies have gotten so much practice in the budget battles, said Joan Anzelmo, a former park superintendent and spokeswoman for the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

“It’s an incredibly sad statement in the affairs of our country when the federal workforce is continued to be used as pawns every time Congress wants to have a battle,” she said.

Wyoming’s seven national forests are still open for the public, but campsites, bathrooms and other facilities are all closed. The Bighorn National Forest will cancel public meetings to collect public suggestions about proposals for three scenic byways that would run along the Bighorns. Devils Tower National Monument is closed to the public. And the National Elk Refuge will close most of its operations. There will be no public access, and all activities will be canceled on refuge lands.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(30) Comments

  1. Obamacare EqualsSlavery
    Report Abuse
    Obamacare EqualsSlavery - October 08, 2013 5:04 pm
    They were yelled at before they could get off the bus, put at gunpoint and they thought they were arrested - coming from places where they are treated the same - like dirt.
  2. Obamacare EqualsSlavery
    Report Abuse
    Obamacare EqualsSlavery - October 08, 2013 4:49 pm
    I see no where does it mention that they were held at gunpoint by the park rangers and held hostage in the motel on lockdown until their stay expired.... This is how it starts, this has happened before by the Fuher in Germany....
  3. Pops
    Report Abuse
    Pops - October 04, 2013 9:17 am
    Polarized indicates that people are gathering around an opinion. It does not demonstrate a majority of American support for a platform.
  4. James Madison
    Report Abuse
    James Madison - October 03, 2013 8:50 pm
    Leave Wyoming.
  5. James Madison
    Report Abuse
    James Madison - October 03, 2013 8:48 pm
    Move to Colorado and be with your liberal friends. Wyoming's spirit of 1776 is growing. Instead of bashing Wyoming and its Tea party culture, get out and leave.
  6. James Madison
    Report Abuse
    James Madison - October 03, 2013 8:43 pm
    Leave Wyoming and go back to Colorado.
  7. billy
    Report Abuse
    billy - October 03, 2013 6:16 am
    Shameful!! This is why the second amendment is so important.
    That is it, I am changing my R to a D permanently.
    They are doing this on our hard earned dime. And I believe they are doing this because the president is BLACK, plain and simple, Shame on them!!
    The healthcare system was broken and out of control and he fixed it and by golly "We can't have a BLACK president fixing our healthcare mess" So very shameful!
  8. wyomom
    Report Abuse
    wyomom - October 03, 2013 12:27 am is a right wing VERY biased site. Not a good place for the straight facts.
    Further, the ACA (or Obamacare for those who don't know they are the same thing) is NOT A BILL! It is the law of the land. It was passed, signed into law by the President, and even the Supreme Court said so. IT IS LAW, not a bill being debated. You do not get to take it down because you don''t like it, it doesn't work like that. 43 or 44 times to waste the taxpayer's time and money to try and repeal it? And now, holding the Budget hostage to try and defund the ACA? I know the Tea Party here in Wyoming and some of the Republicans will keep on voting for anyone with an R after their name anyway.
    Obamacare is a law. Obama is a US Citizen and he won both elections. DEAL with it and stop wasting our time.
  9. LearnTeach
    Report Abuse
    LearnTeach - October 02, 2013 6:20 pm
    You obviously have no understanding what socialism is. Obamacare is not socialist. It is capitalist. People must buy insurance from private companies, that is CAPITALIST. Whats also funny is I bet you have been a part of a SOCIALIST education system, used a SOCIALIST water system in your community, drive around on SOCIALIST roads, are protected by a SOCIALIST military, police and fire system. Quit attempting to scare people with words you don't understand. We have a mixed economic system between socialist and capitalist principles. People like you get used, or worse, people like you attempt to manipulate and use other people by spreading misinformation in order to undercut our system for your own personal gain.
  10. side oiler
    Report Abuse
    side oiler - October 02, 2013 6:16 pm
    Teabillies,hubris anomalies of the human race with multi-personality traits whose only purpose in life is to parrot extremist ding dong rhetoric screaming from right wing blab shows.
  11. Wilderness
    Report Abuse
    Wilderness - October 02, 2013 5:54 pm
    I don't need to try again. Everything I posted is factually accurate and can be substantiated. I also don't need more obfuscation about how the Tea Party is worried about a law not ready to enact, wants to simply "table" this law to work out some minor issues, has an alternate/better/preferable health care plan or agenda, or any other lies. Yes, I called it - lies. They want to kill the act, they want to irreparably damage the current sitting President and his party (out of fear and hate), and they're willing to take down the country to do it. It's reprehensible. And you will continue to make up arguments about how it's in our best interests, because you will not move a single millimeter in your politicized thinking. Spare me. In fact, spare me a response. I don't care...
  12. IdrahaJe
    Report Abuse
    IdrahaJe - October 02, 2013 5:27 pm

    It must be nice living in never never land
  13. TeaPublican
    Report Abuse
    TeaPublican - October 02, 2013 2:30 pm
    We TeaPublicans are calling on all American Patriots to write or call the editors of these newspapers and tell them how upset you are about what they published : PERORIA JOURNAL STAR: “We believe that a clean continuing spending resolution - to fund the national parks so that veterans on an Honor Flight can see the World War II memorial before they die, to ensure people who need food stamps get them, etc. - would pass the House, as it has the Senate, if Speaker Boehner would just call that vote. Until that happens, he, his chamber and his Republicans own this shutdown, no matter what talking points they've adopted to try to deflect the blame for triggering yet another unnecessary crisis.” VIRGINIAN-PIOLT Because a small group of tea party-led House Republicans so abhor the federal health care law that they will do anything - including embarrassing the nation and jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of people - to stop it .” WASHINGTON POST : “ The overwhelming number of editorial boards came to the same conclusion: That Republicans — specifically the tea party caucus — are to blame. Even those editorial boards that don’t like the Affordable Care Act think shutting down the government is a bridge too far.” THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: “If, by the time you read this, all or part of the federal government has gone into shutdown mode, it will be because a minority faction of the minority party pulled out every stop on the organ to try to prevent the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, from going into effect as scheduled.” MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE: By resorting to extreme measures to eliminate the law, Republicans are effectively trying to nullify the 2012 election to impose a minority view.” DEMONIES REGISTER: “It is time for Congress to change its ways. It begins this week with Democrats in the Senate refusing to buckle to a threat to shut down the government unless the House Republicans get their way.” KANSAS CITY STAR: “Shame on Republicans for creating this mess. That includes every GOP House member from the Kansas City area, who have all voted to make routine government spending subject to inflicting fatal wounds to the Affordable Care Act.” SACRAMENTO BEE: “They can spin it all they want, but House Republicans manufactured the crisis that now threatens to shut down the federal government and wreak havoc on world finances. Unless they budge, they will go down in history as hostage takers willing to tank the economy if their demands are not met.” WHAT! Shame on these newspapers for dividing America and supporting that socialist obama! We TeaPublicans know these socialist newspapers are working hand and hand with obama to destroy our America!
  14. EasyTurbo
    Report Abuse
    EasyTurbo - October 02, 2013 1:38 pm
    Sassy, you're right. That simply isn't possible. That also was not the figure quoted in the article. The director of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce expects Jackson to lose $4 million during October. The figure was $200-300K per day in Cody.
  15. WyoJeff
    Report Abuse
    WyoJeff - October 02, 2013 1:03 pm
    Try again. The tea party "tantrum" is pointing out the fact that this bill is not ready to become law yet. they are asking to delay the bill, not kill it. Why is it ok for major corps and government to get a carve out and the average citizen can't? That is right, they don't have to live by the law while the rest of us do. How is that fair? I thought it was the lower income corporate employees like McDonalds were the people that were going to get this help? The Republican have offered to fund the government, just not this one part which is a disaster. If the poor could afford insurance they would already have it. All this bill will do is double our insurance cost in Wyoming and force the poor to spend money they don't have. Where is all the savings we were promised? This cost of Obamacare has been far higher than we were told. Why should we believe any of the people who promised us all this and none of it has been true?

    Where are the Libs who claim government is owned by big business? How can these laws only apply to some but not all? Try answer those questions between your big gulps of Kool Aid. Even CNN' reporter Dana Bas is now asking Harry Reed why wouldn't he help 1 child with cancer and his answer was "why would we want to do that?" Yea, he is really looking out for everyones health here.

    That is right, make America feel the pain!
  16. LearnTeach
    Report Abuse
    LearnTeach - October 02, 2013 12:39 pm
  17. LearnTeach
    Report Abuse
    LearnTeach - October 02, 2013 12:39 pm
  18. whatever
    Report Abuse
    whatever - October 02, 2013 11:05 am
    It defies logic to suggest that Obama or congressional Democrats have any obligation to "negotiate" with Republicans over a law that they do not have the votes to repeal, a law that was passed by both houses of congress and upheld by the supreme court.
    In 2007 when democrats took control of congress the liberal wing of the party wanted to defund the Iraq war. At that time more than 75% of Americans had turned against the war but the rest of the Democrats did not cave to the liberal wing, unlike the current House Republican clown show.
    In any case this is pure kabuki theater on the part of Republicans. They can no more defund Obamacare than they can turn apples into oranges since almost all of the law is covered by mandatory spending.
    republicans are trying to achieve through the appropriations process what they could not achieve through the electoral, legislative or judicial processes. If they hope to survive as a party they had better focus on winning some elections instead of the constant blackmail and hostage taking.
  19. Wilderness
    Report Abuse
    Wilderness - October 02, 2013 10:33 am
    This post is sheer ignorance. This is not the fault of "Dems" or many of the Republicans. This is the fault of a select (Tea Party and allied) group of Republican representatives, throwing a tantrum because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed into law and is being implemented. They are holding the entire federal government and country hostage over uneducated, politically motivated, and nonsensical personal views, and this is an incredibly dangerous precedent that cannot be allowed, no matter whom is sitting in the White House or who controls the House or Senate. No one small group gets to hold the country and our federal government hostage over petty political (and both economically and scientifically unjustifiable) beliefs. I don't agree with President Obama, or worse Senateor Reid, about much, but here they're right. You don't compromise with thugs that have no respect for rules, decorum, or the laws of the land and that seem to think their narrow views represent the country or its best interests. Get over your myopic political biases and look at the big picture here. Stop the knee-jerk finger pointing.
  20. lllggg
    Report Abuse
    lllggg - October 02, 2013 10:04 am
    Our own congressional members voted for the shutdown; Lummis, Barrasso, and Enzi. We get what we elected.
  21. jc45
    Report Abuse
    jc45 - October 02, 2013 9:32 am
    They did not break down the barriers, the barriers were opened peacefully and the Vets. were allowed in by the Obama administration.
  22. jc45
    Report Abuse
    jc45 - October 02, 2013 9:29 am
    Like again.
  23. jc45
    Report Abuse
    jc45 - October 02, 2013 9:29 am
  24. LearnTeach
    Report Abuse
    LearnTeach - October 02, 2013 8:54 am
    Get over it. You lost. People are signing up for cheaper, PRIVATE (which means capitalist for you morons out there) health insurance by the millions. In a few years, you're going to lose another election because people, I mean a majority of people, will find out this is a good thing for them, their families, their neighbors, and their communities (Obamacare). Stop acting like the losers in a gradeschool game of basketball who when they find out they can't win fair and square take their ball, pout, and sit in the corner hoping someone will give into their temper tantrum. You don't shut down government because you don't like something the majority of people want. You work your butt of to use facts and logic in order to change people's minds so that you move from the minority to the majority. Grow up, pass a budget, and help solve problems not create them.
  25. LearnTeach
    Report Abuse
    LearnTeach - October 02, 2013 8:45 am
    I generally don't waste my time responding to the idiotic things people say on these posts, but to blame anyone for the shutdown other than the members of Congress who went to Washington with the sole purpose of shutting down the federal government has to be the height of ignorance. It isn't Democrats, it isn't independents, it isn't even all Republican members of Congress. It's a very select group of Representatives who, through a manipulation of the districting process or live in a state like ours, have no fear of being held accountable for their reckless and frankly, unamerican decision to abandon the Democratic process of government because they can't stand losing not just an election, but a legislative battle and a Supreme Court case all based on whether people want health care reform.
  26. Jackalope
    Report Abuse
    Jackalope - October 02, 2013 8:22 am
    Anarchy is great! Long live libertarians? Exceptions are the way of freedom? Civil disobedience for ever? Massive resistance is the only way? This type of thinking is the beginning of a red state spring, not the creation of solutions by Americans.
  27. pappy
    Report Abuse
    pappy - October 02, 2013 7:51 am
    The govt is shut down and the closing of the parks is one of the biggest impacts? I'm sure it has impacts especially for the gateway communities but if this is the biggest impact of the shutdown then there are some very strange priorities out there. I'm sorry but the parks aren't an essential function of the govt. They are great places and need protected but they aren't essential. If a govt. shutdown only involves 30% of it's employees then there isn't much of a shutdown. 4 million dollars a day is ????
  28. WyoJeff
    Report Abuse
    WyoJeff - October 02, 2013 7:45 am
    They have to make Americans feel as much pain as possible because someone decided to not just given them everything they wanted. Someone decided to stand up for Americans. Now, the Dems are going to attempt to blackmail us to get what they want. Veterans or no veterans, they don't care.
  29. Sassy
    Report Abuse
    Sassy - October 02, 2013 7:28 am
    Cody losing 4 million per day in October?? Fuzzy math..that is simply not possible.
  30. 99Savage
    Report Abuse
    99Savage - October 02, 2013 7:22 am
    Even worse, WWII vets on an Honor Flight to D.C. were threatened arrest if they visited The WWII Memorial on the Capitol Mall. They requested an exemption but were denied by the Obama administration. They broke through the barriers and visited it anyway. We could all take a lesson from these most honorable men and women.

    Democrats are despicable.
Untitled Document

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps...

  1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

  2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

  3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

  4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

  5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at, or call Editor Jason Adrians at 266-0545 or Content Director David Mayberry at 266-0633. This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

  6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

  7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

  8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick