New Concessionaire Wants To Take Over Crater Lake National Park Concessions


A concessions company that operates in Acadia National Park, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Mammoth Cave National Park and eight other units of the National Park System says it can take over the concessions operation at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

ExplorUS says it has signed a definitive letter of intent to assume control of Crater Lake Hospitality’s operations. However, National Park Service personnel in the Pacific West Region office say “written approval [from the Park Service] is required before Crater Lake Hospitality [an Aramark subsidiary] may assign or otherwise transfer its concession contract to ExplorUS,” and that that could take several weeks.

The Park Service announced last month that it was terminating Crater Lake Hospitality’s contract because of the company’s failure to live up to terms of the agreement. 

Back in December the situation at Crater Lake was raised by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who told Park Service Director Chuck Sams in a letter that the “annual concessionaire assessments paint a troubling picture of the concessionaire’s fulfillment of its important responsibilities at Crater Lake National Park over several years. The National Park Service records make it clear that the concessionaire has continually failed to fulfill the requirements of the contract.”

Wyden told Sams that he sent staff to Crater Lake to assess conditions there and that the “issues that staff observed during this visit have only served to solidify my understanding of the seriousness of the concessionaire’s failure to plan for and perform important regular maintenance, adequately train staff and address issues that directly threaten safety.”

ExplorUS, based in Overland Park, Kansas, manages concessions at nearly 80 locations nationwide, according to a press release from the company.

“Crater Lake is the ‘Crown Jewel’ of Oregon and one of the most extraordinary natural wonders in the Pacific Northwest. We are looking forward to working with the National Park Service in gaining approval for the transfer of the concession contract,” said Frank Pikus, CEO of ExplorUS. “We are committed to working with the National Park Service to enhance and protect the visitor experience.”

The company’s press release said ExplorUS “will seek to transition all current employees and make a significant investment in the park’s facilities, staff training, and visitor services. Crater Lake concessions include boat tours; lodging and dining at historic Crater Lake Lodge; the Cabins at Mazama Village and Mazama Campground; Rim Village Cafe and Gifts, which is open year-round; Annie Creek Restaurant and Gift Shop; and the Mazama Village Store.”

In the release ExplorUS said it recognizes the critical need for investment, “especially with dormitory housing and facility updates and has plans to act quickly to resolve much-needed improvements.”

To ensure visitors that there is no interruption in service, all reservations and deposits for future stays and services will be honored. “The transition will be seamless,” said Pikus.

“The opportunity at Crater Lake National Park is a perfect match with our capabilities and expertise,” he added. “We are dedicated to providing an excellent experience at the country’s fifth-oldest national park and we look forward to the opening of the 2024 season in May.”


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