COVID-19 pushes people to seek socially distanced vacation options

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 11:45 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - As the coronavirus pushes people to seek socially distanced vacation options, camping has emerged as a popular option for many who are looking to get away.

But this year has seen an unusually high number of challenges for the Forest Service - which forced them into a tough decision.

“This year, due to limited funds and some key vacancies in some recreation positions that help our operations and maintenance of our campgrounds, we selected to close some of our campgrounds a little earlier than normal,” says Andrea Maichak, North Zone Recreation Staff Officer for the Shoshone National Forest, based out of Cody.

But because of the high demand by people who find camping the perfect answer to the puzzle of vacationing in a pandemic, the Forest Service chose to extend their season in the Clarks Fork, Wapiti and Greybull districts - which were due to close on September 8.

“Due to increased visitation and public need,” Maichak explains, “we decided to extend some of those campgrounds back to the normal closing date of mid-September or end of September.”

According to camp hosts, most of the people camping on the north half of the Shoshone National Forest are from out of state - but all have been from the United States. And Maichak adds that much of the draw for these particular campgrounds is due to their prime location just east of Yellowstone National Park.

“Typically, our campgrounds are about 80 percent full during the weekends, on a normal year, and during weekdays it drops down to about 60% occupancy,” she reports. “This year we saw 100 percent occupancy both weekdays and weekends.”

Maichak says that so far, just six of the 23 campgrounds in the north half of the Shoshone National Forest have closed. The remainder will close either the 21st or 28th of this month.

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