Kayak tour guide, Spokane native, reflects on what Yellowstone flooding might mean for his business

Nathaniel Hagood had just finished leading a kayaking tour of Yellowstone Lake when he got the text.

“I pull out my phone and saw that I had a text from the emergency alert service,” the Spokane native said. “All roads closed.”

Hagood, who opened his kayaking tour business – Prismatic Tours – last year, is just one of the thousands of people impacted by the historic flooding in Yellowstone National Park. While Hagood emphasized that he is lucky – his home wasn’t destroyed and operating in the southern end of the park as he does he damage has been less severe – he’s still worried.

“As we left the park, we were kind of taken back this could have serious implications or our business,” he said. “Is this the last tour we are going to lead in the summer of 2022? As a new business, we were definitely not in the black yet.”

Hagood, who graduated from Lewis and Clark High School, lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he’s a ski instructor, in addition to running his guide business.

It turned out it wasn’t the last tour he’d lead. But the long-range impacts are still unclear.

The national park reopened many of its entrances Wednesday, but Hagood is unsure how the rest of the summer will go. He’s already had a number of August trips canceled.

“We are faced with having to refund all these customers for these trips they’ve scheduled,” he said. “Not good. Especially as a new business.”

The flip side is, with the northern part of Yellowstone indefinitely closed, it may push more visitors and trips to the southern end where he operates his guiding company.

“It’s kind of a flip of a coin,” he said. “It could be a really tough summer.

“I think it’s too early to tell. I would say the takeaway is that we’re incredibly grateful that the lower part of the park is relatively unaffected.”