'A brand-new river installed': Gardiner outfitters excited to get back on the water

GARDINER — The Friday before flood waters turned the small town of Gardiner into a dead end at the end of a mountain road, the town was pulsing with visitors, adventurers, rafters and fishermen.

In essence, the town was full of its economic lifeblood and gearing up for a season of “normalcy” after years of COVID-19 effects and changes. But just one week later — as the governor last Friday flew over the damage done by a historic flood — the heart of Gardiner’s economy, Yellowstone National Park, had stopped altogether. The town was drained of life with uncertainty about when that heart might reopen.

Along the town’s main drag, gift shops, restaurants, café’s and so on were closed. Signs posted near Yellowstone explained it was closed due to flooding. Lights were off in windows and signs everywhere said flooding had closed Gardiner indefinitely. But a flashing neon sign declaring “open” lured passersby to a little fly fishing shop and outfitter on Second Street.

Inside, owner Richard Parks and his staff were frantically calling dozens of would-be anglers to cancel nearly 85% of his planned business for the summer. His year-round employee, Cody Marr, was also trying to set up an online retail store

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