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Gardiner businesses recover from 2022 season, prepare for new tourist season



Gardiner, Montana – Businesses are recovering from summer 2022’s Yellowstone River flooding in Gardiner.

Gardiner Chamber of Commerce executive director Terese Petcoff said all businesses lost revenue.

“It had a huge impact on every industry and business in Gardiner that relies on tourism as our sole clientele. Most people’s bookings are affected by 70–90%. It was wild.”

Workers repairing the new route into the park offered Petcoff hope. Every day in Gardiner, the hill reminded residents that tourists would return.

Because we welcome people back, I think that is when people’s spirits started to brighten up. At that point, Highway 89’s Yellowstone River bridge was entirely restored, so travelers did not have to detour around us.”

Yellowstone Perk owner Todd Flynn says last year was tough. He had to find other ways to make money until the park reopened because Gardiner had no business.

We did everything. We had other businesses, but it was tough man. You struggle without a salary you believed was guaranteed. “The river finally paid off,” he said.

Flynn expects a good tourism season. Yellowstone Perk, a few hundred steps from the park entrance, is attracting visitors.

He stated he wants a successful tourism season and to move forward this summer.

Run a decent business, treat people well, and have a good product, and the numbers will eventually rise. Flynn said the park, Cam Sholly, and others did a great job preparing the road. “The numbers are promising. We hope for a great season.”

Gardiner firms are optimistic.

Roosevelt Hotel manager Brandon MacDowell said the lodging business has started slowly this year, but things will pick up.

Last year’s flooding blocked the Roosevelt until April 2023. This summer, MacDowell felt hopeful.

“It started slow, but today we only have a couple of empty rooms. “But it looks like we still have a little bit of slow time ahead of us,” he remarked.

Many establishments report slow reservations. MacDowell agreed with Roosevelt.

“Yeah, I feel like a lot of it, you know, is people used to prepare a long, long way in advance, upwards of a year to visit hotels in this area. “We are seeing people ten days out trying to see if there are still rooms,” he said.

MacDowell merely wants to welcome tourists back to Gardiner and provide a pleasant location to stay when visiting Yellowstone National Park.

Seasonal tourism employees in Gardiner are excited too.

Wild West Whitewater Rafting guide RJ Upton returns.

Upton arrived in Gardiner in late May 2022 and finished guide training in early June. After the flooding, his summer work seemed uncertain.

Upton is from North Carolina and attends college there. He was stranded in Yellowstone after the Highway 89 bridge and road washed out.

He stayed until the bridge was fixed and the road reopened to do what he came to Gardiner for.

“It was difficult. But we have a great community here, and Wild West, especially the guys who stayed, made it simple. “We made the best of a pretty rough situation,” Upton said.

Upton enjoyed taking people rafting and working in Gardiner in the summer 2022, despite the slow season.

I love my job. I will never meet cooler folks than these. Returning here was a privilege. I am thrilled and lucky. “It’s a great place to work and work hard,” he remarked.

Upton said this job fits his major in hospitality management and outdoor recreation.

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