Concessionaires

While the National Park Service itself owns and is responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the Park, they rely on a variety of concessionaires to provide direct services to the general public. This includes everything from operating the hotels, restaurants, and stores, to providing medical care.

There are five primary concessionaires operating in Yellowstone.

Xanterra (formerly Amfac) operates the hotels, lodge, and cabins, as well as five of the park’s campgrounds.  They also operate several restaurants and gift stores, and provide a variety of different tourist activities.  Xantera’s predecessor, Amfac, bought out the prior concession operator, TW Recreation Services, in 1995.  Amfac changed it’s name to Xanterra in 2002.

The Delaware North Corporation operates 12 Yellowstone General Stores throughout the park.  Delaware North was awarded the contract for operating the stores in 2002.  Prior to that they were operated by Hamilton’s Stores (from 1915).

Yellowstone Park Service Stations operates seven convenience service stations and four automotive repair facilities within Yellowstone (Mammoth, Tower, Canyon, Fishing Bridge, Grant Village, two stations at Old Faithful), and a headquarters in Gardiner, Montana.

The Yellowstone Association operates bookstores throughout Yellowstone and in Gardiner, Montana, and provides tours and instructional courses through the Yellowstone Institute.

Medcor operates the medical clinics at Old Faithful, Lake, and Mammoth, providing urgent care and basic medical services (EMS services are provided by rangers and park staff).  See the Medical Services page for more details on the locations and services offered at the Clinics.

For information on working for any of these concessionaires, see the “Working in Yellowstone” page.

There are a number of private companies authorized to provide tours, courses, and other services inside the park, but these are not park concessionaires per se (they lack a contractual arrangement with the NPS to provide those services).

Concessionaire History

The Yellowstone Park Company

The Northern Pacific Railroad, its subsidiary Northwest Improvement Company, and various private parties owned many of the concessions and other businesses that provided visitor services in the earliest years of Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone Park Company was incorporated in the 1880s, in association with the Northern Pacific Railroad.  Though the organization of this concession has resulted in a number of associated company names (such as Yellowstone Park Transportation Company, Yellowstone Park Camping company, Yellowstone Park Hotel Company, Yellowstone Park Lodge and Camps Company) they fall under the umbrella of the Yellowstone Park Company.

In 1892, Harry W. Child, with partners Silas S. Huntley, L.H. Hershfield, Aaron Hershfield, and others, established the Yellowstone National Park Transportation Company to provide stagecoach travel in the Park. In 1901 Child, Huntley, and E.W. Back purchased the stock of the Yellowstone Park Association to consolidate their control of the concessions. Later that year, Huntley died, leaving Child to control both companies. In 1909 Child, his wife Adelaide D. Child, and their son Huntley Child reorganized the Yellowstone National Park Transportation Company into its constituent parts, the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company and the Yellowstone Park Hotel Company. Child died in 1931, and his son-in-law William M. Nichols took over the operation of the concessions.

In 1936 Nichols merged the park’s transportation, hotel, camping, and boating operations into the new Yellowstone Park Company. World War II brought a decline in the concessions as government services to all parks were curtailed and gas rationing curtailed tourist travel. Close to bankruptcy during the 1940s, Nichols was financially unprepared for the tourist boom of the early 1950s. To meet the need for improved and expanded facilities, the government initiated “Mission 66,” a joint government and private financial of new facilities, the most ambitious of which was the new Canyon Village, completed in 1957.

Yellowstone Park Company continued to operate in Yellowstone National Park until the United States Government purchased all associated property of the company and their lease to operate was terminated in 1980.

Hamilton’s Stores were concessioners in Yellowstone National Park from 1915 to 2002. The stores were founded by Winnipeg native Charles Hamilton, who arrived in Yellowstone in 1905, aged 21, to work for the Yellowstone Park Association. The stores provided food, souvenirs and sundries to tourists at the major attractions along Yellowstone’s Grand Loop Road. Several of the buildings constructed for Hamilton’s are significant examples of the National Park Service Rustic style of architecture and have assumed prominence as attractions in their own right. Most or all are included as contributing structures in National Register of Historic Places historic districts.

In 1953 Hamilton gained control of most park concessions with the purchase of stores at Mammoth Hot Springs and Canyon. Hamilton also operated bathhouses at Old Faithful from 1933, when he bought the geyser-fed pool from Henry Brothers until 1951, when they were demolished as inappropriate for a national park.[1]

As a result of a 1998 change in National Park Service policy which eliminated preferences for established businesses in parks, Hamilton’s Stores lost the concessions contract in Yellowstone to Delaware North in 2002, and ceased operations.

The Northern Pacific Railroad, its subsidiary Northwest Improvement Company, and various private parties owned many of the concessions and other businesses that provided visitor services in the earliest years of Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone Park Company was incorporated in the 1880s, in association with the Northern Pacific Railroad.  Though the organization of this concession has resulted in a number of associated company names (such as Yellowstone Park Transportation Company, Yellowstone Park Camping company, Yellowstone Park Hotel Company, Yellowstone Park Lodge and Camps Company) they fall under the umbrella of the Yellowstone Park Company.

In 1892, Harry W. Child, with partners Silas S. Huntley, L.H. Hershfield, Aaron Hershfield, and others, established the Yellowstone National Park Transportation Company to provide stagecoach travel in the Park. In 1901 Child, Huntley, and E.W. Back purchased the stock of the Yellowstone Park Association to consolidate their control of the concessions. Later that year, Huntley died, leaving Child to control both companies. In 1909 Child, his wife Adelaide D. Child, and their son Huntley Child reorganized the Yellowstone National Park Transportation Company into its constituent parts, the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company and the Yellowstone Park Hotel Company. Child died in 1931, and his son-in-law William M. Nichols took over the operation of the concessions.

In 1936 Nichols merged the park’s transportation, hotel, camping, and boating operations into the new Yellowstone Park Company. World War II brought a decline in the concessions as government services to all parks were curtailed and gas rationing curtailed tourist travel. Close to bankruptcy during the 1940s, Nichols was financially unprepared for the tourist boom of the early 1950s. To meet the need for improved and expanded facilities, the government initiated “Mission 66,” a joint government and private financial of new facilities, the most ambitious of which was the new Canyon Village, completed in 1957.

Yellowstone Park Company continued to operate in Yellowstone until the National Park Service purchased all associated property of the company and their lease to operate was terminated in 1980.  The contracts to operate concessions within the park went through a formal bid process, whereupon TW Recreation Services (later Amfac, then Xanterra) won the rights to operate the hotels and lodging, dining and many other recreational operations within the park.

Hamilton’s Stores

Hamilton’s Stores were concessioners in Yellowstone National Park from 1915 to 2002. The stores were founded by Winnipeg native Charles Hamilton, who arrived in Yellowstone in 1905, aged 21, to work for the Yellowstone Park Association. The stores provided food, souvenirs and sundries to tourists at the major attractions along Yellowstone’s Grand Loop Road.  In 1915, he purchased Henry Klamer’s general store at Old Faithful.  He paid slightly over $20,00 for the business, receiving financial backing from his boss Harry Child.

In 1953 Hamilton gained control of most park concessions with the purchase of stores at Mammoth Hot Springs and Canyon. He went on to purchase or build several other stores throughout the park.  Hamilton also operated bathhouses at Old Faithful from 1933, when he bought the geyser-fed pool from Henry Brothers until 1951, when they were demolished as inappropriate for a national park.

As a result of a 1998 change in National Park Service policy which eliminated preferences for established businesses in parks, Hamilton’s Stores lost the concessions contract in Yellowstone to Delaware North in 2002, and ceased operations.

SourcesWikipedia, Yellowstone National Park communcation