THE NPS COMMERCIALIZE THE PARK POLICY
So you’ve saved your money and driven from home in Pocatello, Idaho – (or Bozeman, MT, or Salt Lake City, UT, or Boise, ID, or Missoula, MT, or Saint George, UT, or where ever,) – to West Yellowstone, Montana for a long weekend of some excellent early season cross-country skiing.
You’ve found a small, but quiet and clean rental for just $85/night – for the two of you. It’s within walking distance of the ski trails, (just about everything is.) You got up early and skied hard.
You have finished the day and are feeling exhilarated and romantic. You have traveled over 8 miles today on skis and are inclined toward a candlelight dinner at Old Faithful, just 31 miles away. The sun is low, and sunset about an hour away. Maybe a stroll around Old Faithful in the light of a full moon, at -10. A fitting end to a perfect day.
THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE wants you to spend at least $200 to get there – if you can – which you cant! That’s more to get into Yellowstone National Park than a dinner for two on Cape Cod! Is this any way to run a park?
This policy is designed to make merchants rich and visitors rushed. And, the merchants are making so much money during those 8 hours that they don’t even schedule transportation in the evening. Of course the NPS has rules that dis-allow night time travel in Yellowstone.
So you can eat the plebeian fare in West Yellowstone’s mundane eateries. You can swill beer in dark and noisy and crowded pubs. Or, you can book reservations to stay overnight at Snow Lodge at Old Faithful. Well, maybe you’re that rich! I’m not. And $400 for a dinner is not my idea of enjoying Yellowstone.
The National Park Service doesn’t want to hear about it. They are set on a course to limit visitation to only the richest visitors, pay a bit of baksheesh to the concessionaires, and return Yellowstone to its elitist beginnings.
Romance and gentle enjoyment of our national treasures should not be out of reach of the general public. Attendance at the parks is down. Entrance fees are up. Restricted access is becoming the norm. Commercialization is the new watch word.
There is no need for the NPS to whine about their budget in the face of their current policies & practices. Additional access would go a long way toward allowing Americans to enjoy their parks – and appreciating the need for money to protect and maintain them.