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Romance in Yellowstone

Romance in Yellowstone

Written by: , November 30th, 2023
Categories: People

It’s a tale as old as time: one person meets another, things click, sparks fly, and a romance is born.

Being in the right place at the right time is one of the most important aspects of finding love, and Yellowstone National Park has proved to be that right place for many couples over the years.

Working in Yellowstone also can play a huge role in finding “the one”. There have been many stories of couples who met during their time working a single season, and bonded over their mutual love of the park.

So whether they came together on a trip, fell in love working together, or strengthened their bond exploring the park, here are a few of the many stories about romance in the ‘stone.

Elise and Cody Lockner

It was 2003 when Elise first found herself working in Yellowstone. With the encouragement of a friend, she took a job as a room attendant at the Old Faithful Lodge, but her hard work quickly earned her a promotion to the porter position.

It was her love of adventure that kept bringing her back to the park, where fate would bring her together with her future husband.

Cody wouldn’t arrive in the park until 2007, but the two met and became fast friends.

“Cody was a pubtender and I was the Housekeeping Manager,” Elise explained of their meeting. “I would come to the pub after the softball games and get a pizza or a cheesy pretzel, and he was always working those days. That is how our friendship started and how we realized there was more there than just friendship.”

The pair began dating the following year in 2008. As an avid lover of exciting experiences, Elise says going on Yellowstone adventures with Cody really helped them get to know one another.

“I didn’t start becoming an avid hiker until Cody and I started dating,” Elise elaborated.  “You learn a lot about the other person when you are going on adventures together. Hiking is one of the adventures that helped us to be supportive with each other. Sometimes, when you’re hiking and you’re just not feeling it, it helped to have that person help you get to the top. Since we spend as much time outside as we can while working in the park, those experiences, whether it be hiking, camping, kayaking have also taught us to be more patient and communicative with each other.”

And all of those journeys led them to a proposal in 2013.

It was Elise’s favorite Yellowstone holiday: Christmas, and the pair were working together in Canyon Village. Once she got off work, Elise and Cody went back to their dorm so they could exchange Christmas gifts: one of their beloved traditions together.

“I was opening my presents sitting on the bed and he was kneeling on the floor next to the bed seeming very nervous,” Elise recalled. “I opened all my presents, and then went through the stocking, finding gummi bears, some socks – typical stocking stuffers, and then I found a wrapped box at the bottom of the stocking. He was looking at me with this sort of worried/nervous look on his face and he hadn’t said anything for about five minutes. I unwrapped the box and knew what it was right away. I lunged at him to give him a hug and he asked me when we were hugging to marry him. Of course, I said yes.”

Now happily married, Elise and Cody still work together year-round in the park. She also said she never pictured Yellowstone National Park would be where she would find the love of her life.

“I am not a girl that plans her whole life out, so meeting the one person that I want to go on all my adventures with was very unexpected,” she concluded.

Lori Todd and Darren Kisor

It was the fall of 1997 and Lori accepted a shoulder season gig as a laborer on the Historic Preservation Crew. She would be deglazing windows from the Old Faithful Inn for the next six weeks. Darren Kisor, a skilled crew member, trained Lori before he set off to visit his family in Ohio. Equipped with masks and goggles to prevent lead inhalation, she learned the ropes. This was their first encounter which didn’t leave much opportunity to get to know one another.

“I had seen Darren riding his bike around location frequently before we actually met. It’s hard not to miss the curls he used to have. Now he keeps his hair much shorter – usually.” (see photos below – 1998 vs 2015)

Darren arrived back in time for the winter season and Lori resumed her normal duties at the Snow Lodge front desk. It wasn’t until a New Year’s Eve party at the pub that they had the opportunity to reconnect. It was much easier to chat and have a conversation without the big masks on. “Honestly, our working together briefly was the conversation starter. Darren is pretty shy and reserved so I think that enabled him to strike up a conversation.”

Starting a relationship at Snow Lodge was definitely a unique experience. Dates typically meant going out for a ski somewhere. “Darren did live in a travel trailer rather than the dorms, which back then was a big deal. He invited me over for dinner, and before I knew it, he was one of my regular ski partners.”

Darren and Lori definitely grew up in different worlds – suburban CT vs the hills of Appalachia but “part of the beauty of Yellowstone is how it brings people together from all over.”

Darren had planned on heading back to Ohio that spring to be closer to family, but the budding romance caused him to reconsider. This year, in 2024, Darren and Lori celebrate their 20-year wedding anniversary.

Ruth and Leslie Quinn

“Dating in Yellowstone is like living in a fishbowl.” says Ruth Quinn. “In my second summer at Lake Hotel front desk, my coworkers learned that I was seeing Leslie. They’d see him enter the lobby on one of the bus routes from Old Faithful and say, ‘Ruth, isn’t it time for you to take a break?’’ The Quinns married in the Mammoth Chapel, and they will celebrate their 30th Anniversary in June. Leslie is in his 44th year in the Transportation Department – now as Manager of Training and Standards. Ruth divides her year conducting tours of Old Faithful Inn in the summer and helping out Gardiner Human Resources in the winter. She’ll be in her 35th year this summer. Their secret – find someone whose faults don’t drive you crazy!


Yellowstone may be one of the country’s most isolated places, but it’s certainly no stranger to love. The magic of Yellowstone has been bringing couples together since its birth in 1872, and that magic still lives on today.

These two couples are only a few examples of many more before them, and many more after them.


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Want to experience Yellowstone in-depth? See what makes Yellowstone National Park a great place to work for a season or longer!