Travelers reroute from Yellowstone to Utah, as state office watches tourism impact

Jun 15, 2022, 11:20 PM | Updated: Jun 17, 2022, 6:58 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – As Yellowstone tourists regroup and change plans following historic floods that heavily damaged the park and led to closures at all entrances, many are rerouting to Utah.

The Utah Office of Tourism said Wednesday they’re watching things closely, including if there is an increase in visitation to national parks and gateway communities entering the summer season.

On Wednesday evening, a group of 10 guys and girls walked around the Utah State Capitol grounds. They ran to the top of the steps and looked out.

“Where’s the lake at?” One person asked. They turned west to where the sun reflected off the Great Salt Lake.

And walked down the stairs and looked out over the Capitol lawn, towards the east.

“How tall are those mountains?” another asked, looking at the Wasatch Mountains.

The group’s clear-skied site-seeing stroll was a far cry from where they had just come from.

Stephen Webster explained that they all work at Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone National Park, near the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. They experienced a snowstorm and heavy rains. Then came the flash floods.

“It was pretty crazy,” Webster said. “I didn’t think the whole park was going to get evacuated.”

While Canyon Lodge isn’t one of the hardest-hit areas– which is in the northern part of Yellowstone–, the employees had to leave. They decided to turn the evacuation into an adventure.

“None of us have ever been to Utah, I don’t think, so it’s really cool. The drive down was awesome,” he said.

They camped one night, then got a hotel for the second night. They spent all Wednesday exploring parts of the Salt Lake Valley and downtown.

With Yellowstone’s path forward up in the air, the Utah Office of Tourism is watching to see how many others like Stephen’s group make impromptu trips to the Beehive State.

“We’re not really sure yet what the data is showing, and if people have made massive changes,” Bianca Lyon said, the community and partner relations director at the Utah Office of Tourism. “I think there’s a lot of wait-and-see-attitude right now about how Yellowstone will be impacted in the long term.”

She expects to know a little more in the next couple of days, depending on what Yellowstone announces its summer operations will look like and how much the park can open.

While it’s hard to predict numbers now, with this being the busy season, Lyon suggests travelers plan ahead, research, and make what reservations they can before heading to Utah.

She noted that Arches National Park is currently using a time-entry system. Many hotels in towns like Moab are typically full this time of year.

On top of that, Lyon mentioned the importance of preparation if travel plans include backcountry exploration.

And while the five national parks in Utah are certainly a draw, she pointed out that Utah has many great state parks worth exploring. They’ve set up a webpage called Forever Mighty to help people as they are researching their trip.

“Being prepared with the right gear, with water, and then checking in advance to making sure that you have the latest information from the land agencies about how parks could be impacted,” Lyon said.

Webster’s group trip was a success in Utah. They plan to hit up the Tetons before returning to work in Yellowstone at Canyon Lodge and hopefully resuming operations in that part of the park.

They’re glad they got a breakdown in Salt Lake.

“Honestly, I love it,” Webster said of Salt Lake City. “I think it’s great.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Salt Lake Fire crews quickly took down a fire that was inside a detached garage Monday afternoon....

Michael Houck

SLC fire crews extinguish garage fire near Smith’s Ballpark

Salt Lake Fire crews quickly took down a fire inside a detached garage Monday afternoon.

17 hours ago

Two cars crashed...

Larry D. Curtis

Victims killed in Utah County road rage-caused collision identified

The two people killed in a road-rage-caused crash Sunday have been identified as Rodney Michal Salm, 48, from Salt Lake City and Michaela Himmleberger, 47, of holiday.

17 hours ago

Speed trackers show six different drivers traveling 100 mph or more. The Utah County Sheriff's Offi...

Cassidy Wixom

Utah County Sheriff’s Office partnership aims to reduce speeding

The Utah County Sheriff's Office is partnering with the Utah Highway Safety Office to focus on areas that have high incidences of speeding.

17 hours ago

Follow @jellis9Like us on Facebook...

Josh Ellis

Police searching for suspect after one hurt in SLC shooting

One person was shot and injured near 300 S. Main Street early Monday morning, and police say the shooter remains at large.

17 hours ago

After 14 years at the helm of the Utah Symphony, Maestro Thierry Fischer has conducted his final co...

Carole Mikita

Utah Symphony director gives final bow after 14 years

After 14 years at the helm of the Utah Symphony, Maestro Thierry Fischer has conducted his final concerts as music director.

2 days ago

A motorcycle vs. car crash has killed one man and critically injured a woman Sunday evening....

Michael Houck

Man killed, woman sent to hospital after motorcycle crash in Murray

A motorcycle vs. car crash has killed one man and critically injured a woman Sunday evening.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

Portrait of happy boy playing and splashing water in the swimming pool...

Get Out Pass

Family Fun Activities in Utah You Have to Try This Summer

These family fun activities will entertain you all summer, so if you ever feel stuck in a rut wondering what to do, refer to this guide!

Woman IT specialist in elegant suit working on notebook computer in data center next to server rack...

Les Olson

Your Complete Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

This guide covers everything you need to know about the different benefits of outsourcing IT services to meet your small business needs.

diverse group of friends dance outside under string lights...

Lighting Design

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Lighting

Read for the most frequently asked questions about outdoor lighting to help narrow the search for your home.

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

Travelers reroute from Yellowstone to Utah, as state office watches tourism impact