Businesses hope visitors return after Rocky Mountain National Park reopens

Governor reopens park to help Estes Park economy

ESTES PARK, Colo. - Saturday was the first day Rocky Mountain National Park reopened after the federal government shutdown and as a result, local businesses saw a slight uptick.

In a press release Friday, Governor Hickenlooper announced the state would pay over $40,000 per day to cover operating costs associated with reopening the park. The state will pay for the park to remain open for 10 days during the fall season to help Estes Park businesses, which are suffering after being hit by the double whammie of the floods and shutdown.

The nearly $400,000 total to keep the national park running is funded through the state's tourism budget. But 7NEWS wanted to know if the money was the best way to help with flood recovery.

On Saturday, a half-dozen cars at a time could be seen waiting in line to enter the park and a steady stream of visitors paraded down the sidewalks of downtown Estes Park. While the tourists were a welcome sight, shop owners told 7NEWS the number of people visiting was still down.

Reporter Lindsey Sablan talked to Mayor Bill Pinkman Saturday and asked if the next 10 days would make up for the business lost the last month.

"It’s probably not going to make up for the last two weeks," Pinkman said. "But it will help people to stay in business."

Pinkman reiterated even a slight improvement in business is helpful for the town's morale.

"Driving into town, seeing people coming into town, just makes you feel so good," he said.

Julie Scarbrough, the Manager of "Wear Me Out Tees," said in the past month they've taken at least an 80 percent hit in business. On Saturday, the store contained signs that read "Flood Sale 20%."

Scarbrough said the traffic was less than a typical fall day but it was, "a great showing for what we've been through."

"It won’t fix it but it’s a start,' she said. "And if we can continue that (for) 10 days it would be great because fall is huge for us here. We need that park open."

The Governor's office said it hopes the federal government will reimburse the state, but a deal has not been reached. The money collected by the park over the next 10 days will continue to go to the federal government.

Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said typically the park has 300,000 visitors in the month of October. She said the NPS will have the number of visitors who came to the park during its reopening on Sunday.

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