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Eastern Idaho Park Operators See Rise in Regional Tourism

Eastern Idaho’s vibrant celebrations over the Fourth of July weekend sparked not only a high influx of tourists but also a shift in visitor demographics. 

Local accommodation facilities, including hotels, private campgrounds, and RV parks, witnessed an increase in regional and local travelers compared to the tourism landscape during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A fascinating pattern was observed at Buffalo Run Park in Island Park, which had its 28 units fully booked for the holiday weekend, a stark contrast to the previous year. 

The park has undergone significant changes, notably by joining Airbnb, which the housekeeping manager, Madalynn Phillips, credits for the surge in bookings. 

Buffalo Run Park, specializing in short-term rentals, has become a popular rest stop for visitors on their way to nearby national parks.

Regional nature reserves, such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, serve as powerful tourist magnets. 

However, these parks experienced a considerable decline in visitation in 2022, primarily due to historic flooding in Yellowstone and the general post-pandemic tourism drop-off. 

As of May this year, visitation at Yellowstone was lower than in the same period in 2022, but it exhibited an encouraging rise compared to pre-pandemic figures from 2019.

According to a report, Yellowstone had hosted 645,646 recreation visits, with May 2022 being Yellowstone’s busiest May on record with 523,680 recreation visits before the floods arrived. 

While the number of Yellowstone visitors through May of this year is down compared with both 2022 and 2021, it was 11% higher than it was in 2019, the year before the pandemic started.

For private campground owners or operators in Idaho, these observations indicate a shift in the industry and provide strategic insights. It’s clear that regional visitors are increasingly interested in local travel, possibly due to a shift in priorities post-pandemic.

Mountain River Ranch in Ririe exemplifies this trend. Shalaina Tyler, co-owner of the ranch, highlighted the influx of regional visitors. 

The ranch offers a variety of accommodations, from RV sites to cabins and glamping tents, and has seen strong demand, particularly from regional visitors and full-time RVers. 

This focus on diversified lodging options reflects a broader trend in the hospitality sector, where visitors increasingly seek unique, authentic experiences.

Further evidence of this trend comes from Idaho Falls Luxury RV Park, which was fully booked for the holiday, and Destinations Inn in downtown Idaho Falls, which had all rooms reserved a month in advance. 

However, the Idaho Falls Luxury RV Park was not operating at full capacity due to some ongoing construction work, indicating that even with this regional tourist boom, the hospitality sector is still working to recover and expand post-pandemic.

The 7N Ranch near Heise Hot Springs and Kelly Canyon Resort were no exceptions to this surge in regional tourism. 

Tennessee Newby, who manages the ranch, shared that they were fully booked for the Fourth of July, with most of the visitors hailing from within a 200-mile radius. 

This shift toward local and regional tourism presents both challenges and opportunities for private campground owners and operators in Idaho

Understanding and catering to the changing visitor demographics, embracing diversified lodging options, and integrating online booking platforms can be instrumental in capitalizing on this trend.

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February 21, 2024 3:02 am

Looks like Eastern Idaho’s parks and campgrounds are bustling! It’s a fantastic time to check out the area’s attractions.


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Eastern Idaho Park Operators See Rise in Regional Tourism! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/idaho/eastern-idaho-park-operators-see-rise-in-regional-tourism/