WEST YELLOWSTONE, Montana - The gates of Yellowstone National Park opened Thursday morning after a 16 day closure.
The town of West Yellowstone, Montana is slowly buzzing with activity.
"I was going Oregon coast or here and I flipped a coin and decided here, and I just timed it perfectly," said Velvet Hughes. Hughes said she's on a once in a lifetime journey traveling from British Columbia to Mexico and plans to visit all the national parks on the way.
"Actually I was supposed to jump the Canadian border and start my tour about two weeks ago," said Hughes.
She was forced to wait because national parks were closed, but Thursday she got into her first park on the trip.
"So I'm very excited that I get to see Yellowstone and hopefully the Grand Canyon in the next few days."
Shop owners around West Yellowstone hope for more tourists like Hughes to pass through town.
"Well, it's been dead," said Tyler Johnson an employee at The Eagle Store.
The store has been a staple in the town since 1908. Johnson says business has been slow the past 16 days.
"There's like nobody going up and down the streets," said Johnson.
The Warner family, who are visiting Yellowstone from Salt Lake City were one of Johnson's few customers Thursday.
"It was really sad when we drove into town it seemed like a ghost town it was really dead," said Callie Warner.
The Warner's had planned this trip to Yellowstone for a year, they didn't let the closure of national parks affect their trip.
"We decided to come down anyway and see what going on," said Warner.
On their last day in town, they lucked out when they heard the park reopened.
"We're going to go see old faithful that's our first stop," said Warner.
As excited tourists return to Yellowstone to see the national treasure, for locals there was a sentiment of national disappointment.
"It's been sad to see our country get this bad," said Lee Lowry.
Recovery from a 16 day shutdown won't be easy.
"I think it will probably take up until next year," said Johnson.
Mary Sue Costello, the executive director of the West Yellowstone Chamber Of Commerce said the last few weeks of the fall season are critical.
"We had anticipated on having at least another month to five weeks of additional five weeks and we lost perhaps the two most critical parts of those weeks," said Costello.
Costello said the city hopes to recoup some of the financial losses the park brings in.
"While we we able to provide a lot of things for people to do, it still wasn't the same as having Yellowstone open," said Costello.
Yellowstone National Park closes November 4 for the fall season, it will re-open for the winter season December 15.