Shutdown Quiets Yellowstone Park Wedding Bells

By Beacon Staff

HELENA — Megan Wenk spent three months planning her dream wedding at Artist’s Point in Yellowstone National Park before the government shutdown sent her and her fiance scrambling to find a new location for Sunday’s ceremony.

It didn’t matter that her dad is the park’s top official.

Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said Wednesday that he and his daughter were scouting wedding locations in Gallatin National Forest, north of the park. They have settled on a new site for the rehearsal dinner and reception near Yankee Jim Canyon, and two places remain in the running for the wedding ceremony.

They have assured the 65 guests arriving from across the nation that the wedding will go on — just not in the park.

“It won’t be the one she had hoped for,” Dan Wenk said. “It wasn’t appropriate for us to do it in the park. We’re no different from anybody else.”

All national parks have been closed since Oct. 1, when a battle over the federal budget led to the government shutdown. Gates are closed and signs are posted telling visitors they are not allowed to enter.

There are still limited services available for Yellowstone employees living at park headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs. Church services are taking place at the chapel, and the medical clinic is open to serve park employees and residents of Gardiner just outside the park, said park spokesman Al Nash.

“Those are some of the few exceptions,” Nash said. “Our park residents are still allowed to carry on their lives.”

Megan Wenk and Kory Hammerbeck had a permit for a ceremony at Artist’s Point, a famous scenic overlook on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with a beautiful waterfall in the background.

The rehearsal dinner and reception were to be held at the historic Mammoth Hot Springs hotel.

Instead the guests will be staying in Gardiner, Dan Wenk said.

“I’d say everyone understands the situation and has taken it in stride,” he said.

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