testing: Gas Prices Unlikely to Impact Travel to Yellowstone

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April 11th, 2012

Although pre-summer gas prices have increased to the point of concern in many states around the country, it’s not as much of a worry in Wyoming and the surrounding states, where gas prices have been among the lowest in the country for many weeks. And that is one of several reasons Yellowstone concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts thinks that travelers will still be heading to Yellowstone again this summer.

“Last year about this time gas prices were also creeping up and there was considerable discussion about ‘staycations’ and predictions of poor park visitation numbers,” said Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing. “Even with rising gas prices, a significant recession and subsequent recovery process, visitation to Yellowstone has remained strong. This is evidence, we think, that travelers understand that a visit to the park is a great experience as well as a great value.”

A review of the website www.gasbuddy.com shows that gas prices frequently begin to increase during the months of March and April. For the past several years gas prices in Wyoming have been mostly below the national average and considerably below prices in California and other core Yellowstone markets.

“Our guests are often pleasantly surprised not only by the area’s affordable gas prices but also by the reasonable price for lodge rooms, food and even gifts inside Yellowstone National Park,” said Hoeninghausen.

National parks like Yellowstone have intrinsic value because rates at lodges, restaurants and gift shops have been approved and deemed fair by the National Park Service. And those prices do not go up in the middle of the season or when demand increases.

Additionally, while the National Park Service (NPS) does charge an entrance fee at national parks, those fees are typically good for seven days and are charged by the car, not the number of visitors. NPS charges $25 per vehicle for access to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park to the south. That is considerably less than a family of four would pay for a movie-and-dinner night.

There are also ways to keep expenses down once inside the park. Hoeninghausen offered the following tips:

  • Take a tour and let someone else do the driving.
  • For in-park meals, consider value-priced options at cafeterias, small-plate menus and buffets in restaurants as well as to-go options that make for perfect picnics.
  • Attend free naturalist programs offered by NPS.
  • Stay inside the park, not in gateway communities that require travelers to do even more driving.
  • Look for packages that include lodging, guided tours, meals and other components.

Complete details about accommodations, restaurants, tours and activities in Yellowstone National Park can be made by visiting www.YelllowstoneNationalParkLodges.com or calling 1-307-344-7311 or toll free 1-866-GEYSERLAND (1-866-439-7375).