LAY OF THE LAND | July 2022
It’s no secret that the West’s magnificent landscape is a major reason why the region is a magnet for both tourism and investment.
That’s why it was so significant when an enormous storm slammed into Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding area on June 12th. The storm caused destructive flooding and rockslides that washed out roads, downed power lines and damaged other park infrastructure. The north end of the world’s first national park was especially hard hit, and more than 10,000 visitors were forced to evacuate.
Yellowstone: Closed and Reopened
Park officials had to take the unprecedented step of closing the park until June 22, when it began allowing visitors to access the South Loop of the park via Cody, West Yellowstone, and Grand Teton/Jackson. Continuing hard work by park staff and other partners resulted in the reopening of the North Loop on July 2.
Officials now report that 93% of roadways in the park are open. However, the North Entrance Road (including from Gardiner to Mammoth Hot Springs) and the Northeast Entrance Road (Cooke City/Silver Gate to Tower-Roosevelt) remain closed to vehicles and may stay that way for many months. Until then, visitors may still access the park on foot through these entrances. Here’s where to find the latest updates on park repairs.
While the impact on park infrastructure was significant, the storm and closing also meant lodging cancellations and reduced visitation for park “gateway communities” such as Gardiner, Silver Gate, Cooke City, and West Yellowstone in Montana, as well as Cody and Jackson in Wyoming. To give you an idea how big that impact that can be, consider a just-released report from the National Park Service that showed Yellowstone National Park in 2021 saw 4.8 million visitors, who spent a whopping $630 million. Nearby Grand Teton National Park generated $774 million.
The report also noted that the nearly 8 million people who visited Colorado’s national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park, spent a record-breaking $560 million in 2021, well above the previous record of $515 million set in 2019. Overall in 2021, the entire National Park System saw more than 297 million recreation visits, a significant 25% jump from 2020. Those visitors spent an estimated $20.5 billion in local gateway regions, an astonishing 41% jump from 2020, which supported 322,600 jobs nationally. See the full report.
LATEST LIVESTREAM: Colorado’s Western Slope has its own character. Learn more about the region in our recent conversation with broker Mike McGarry, who shares why it’s different from other parts of the state and what the ranch market has been doing there the past few years. (Watch.) Check out other conversations about water in the west and the fundamentals of ranch investment. And find even more videos on our YouTube page.
HIT THE ROAD! Last month I shared an extensive list of events across the West this summer, from balloon launches to rodeos, county fairs to polo matches. And don’t forget all those music festivals and great museums! Find an event near you.
METHANE SOLUTION: It’s common knowledge that methane emissions from cattle contribute to the emissions footprint. So it’s exciting to hear about the startup Symbrosia, which has developed a feed additive that can reduce livestock methane emissions by over 80%. Learn more.
BILL GATES, POTATO FARMER? The folks at AgWeek reported that “an entity associated with Bill Gates” purchased some North Dakota farmland owned by a potato farming group. The co-founder of Microsoft (as well as everyone else involved in the deal) isn’t commenting on the deal. We say, ‘Welcome to the ranch life, Bill!’ Get the details.
Lay of the Land is a monthly column by Ken Mirr, the Founder and Managing Broker of Mirr Ranch Group, that highlights news of the West impacting the ranch lifestyle. Have a question about the West? Email him at Ken@MirrRanchGroup.com.