It’s been a couple weeks since the government shutdown began and National Parks are closing because there are no employees around to collect fees and clean bathrooms for park visitors. But in Yellowstone, the country’s oldest national park, local businesses are pitching in to pay park staff to keep parts of it open.
The park is blanketed in snow and temperatures are below zero, but between 20,000 and 30,000 people a month brave the Montana weather to come to see Yellowstone in wintertime. The park is mostly closed to cars this time of year, but it takes a lot of work to groom the roads so snowmobiles and snowcoaches - the vans with huge tires - can get visitors in and out. So private businesses that operate inside the park, renting snowmobile or doing tours, are picking up the tab to keep things going. It costs about $7,500 a day to groom the 300-plus miles of snowy roads.
Xanterra Parks and Resorts, which runs the only hotels operating inside Yellowstone during winter, is covering most of the cost and they’re getting the 13 guide services that work in the park to chip in, too. The company says it’ll keep paying until February, and then re-evaluare the arrangement. Hopefully, the government shutdown will be a thing of the past by then.
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