Can Northeastern Wyoming Capitalize On Tourism Boom?

Jun 21, 2016

Devil's Tower National Monument
Credit Credit Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming’s federal parks and monuments are expected to have more visitors than usual because of the National Park Service’s centennial and low gas prices. But officials in the small town of Sundance near Devil’s Tower National Monument say extra tourism dollars probably won’t help them with their budget shortfalls.

The number of visitors to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park are up 26 percent and 15 percent, respectively, for the month of May from last year. Devil’s Tower National Monument has seen a 30 percent jump in April visitors.

Sundance Chamber of Commerce President Steve Lenz said the increase in visitors to the area has been noticeable since spring.

“We’re way up in numbers, I’ve been on the highways crisscrossing the counties, and there’s a ton of RV’s with out-of-state plates. It looks like August out here,” Lenz said.

Lenz hopes new attractions, like a Geocache treasure-hunting tour, will keep tourists staying in Sundance a little longer.

Sundance Treasurer Kathy Lenz, who also happens to be Steve’s wife, says she isn’t confident the town can take advantage of the potential tourism revenue this summer.

“I think that it’s going to be maybe a saving grace to be able to see what it does do for us,” Kathy Lenz said. “If it does impact us like I said, I don’t think we have the [restaurants and hotels] in place to capitalize on it.”

The town is receiving about half a million dollars less from the state due to the downturn in the energy industry. Kathy Lenz said because of this, infrastructure projects like closing a local landfill and updating water lines near the town’s new school are being put on hold.

Kathy Lenz said the towns of Cody and Jackson are examples of places that do have the restaurants and night-time entertainment to keep tourists longer and have them spend more money. Lenz said the towns of Cody and Jackson are examples of places that do have the restaurants and night-time entertainment to keep tourists longer and have them spend more money.