YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (KSL TV) — The easiest way to make friends at a national park is to offer to take their pictures.
“1, 2, 3, keep smiling!” KSL-TV’s Alex Cabrero said to families at the west entrance sign to Yellowstone National Park. “There, thumbs up, awesome picture.”
It was the least he could do since many of them came from far away just to see Yellowstone.
Because of the flood damage to the park, they can’t get in.
“We came from Indiana — 1,700 miles, so far. And we got to Bozeman and found out the park was closed,” said Scott and Laurie Taylor.
That flood was enough to dampen even the best-laid plans.
The Northern Loop of the park most likely won’t open again this season. Most of the road damage is in that section of the park. However, there’s a chance the Southern Loop could be opened sometime next week.
That’s too late for most people, though, because this was the week they’re on vacation.
“Totally unexpected. Disappointing, but we made the best of it,” said Scott Carrera.
Carrera, his wife and two of their friends made the trip to Yellowstone from North Carolina.
Even though they couldn’t get into the park, their laughs and smiles were proof they were still going to make the best of their trip.
“You still got to have fun,” Carrera said. “We’ve taken advantage of some of the surrounding area here at West Yellowstone. We’ve actually seen some wildlife down on Highway 20 near Henry’s Lake, so it’s still been a great trip.”
Even though no one could get into Yellowstone, any national parks fan will tell you — if you take a picture by an entrance sign, it still counts that you were there.
“That’s right. We were here,” the Taylors said with a laugh.
“Exactly,” Carrera said. “It shows we’ve been here.”
It’s not quite the memories they were expecting to have, but they’re still memories on a trip everyone who came to Yellowstone this week will never forget.
“Having this picture of the Yellowstone sign, everyone had that, but this year, you have to have the whole story with pictures of the flood and why you couldn’t do it,” said Roy Mills. “Every time someone talks about this trip, you’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the year they had the flood and it was unbelievable.'”
The Mills family was visiting from Pennsylvania, and for them, it’s just a change in vacation plans.
They say their hearts are with those who aren’t here on vacation.
“We feel badly for all the people who have suffered through this whole debacle with Yellowstone — the people who live here, the people who have suffered the damage,” said Christie Mills. “We’re still having a great time, but when we leave, they are still here picking up the pieces.”