Phantom Ranch. Wawona Hotel. Bright Angel Lodge. Curry Village.
They are some of the most iconic places inside two of the nation’s most iconic national parks, and now federal officials are facing a challenge over just who owns those names — and even the name of Yosemite National Park.
As reported by USA Today, the National Park Service has become embroiled in bitter and unusually public disputes with the two private companies that run most of the hotels, restaurants and stores inside the Grand Canyon and Yosemite national parks. The disputes center on new contracts to run those services, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
• At Yosemite, longtime concessionaire Delaware North is demanding that whoever takes over the contract pay it tens of millions of dollars to use the names it has trademarked, including “Yosemite National Park,” and iconic locations such as Curry Village, Badger Pass and the Wawona Hotel. Delaware North is competing to retain the contract and wouldn’t have to pay that money if it does. The National Park Service acknowledges the trademark dispute and suggested in contract documents that a new concessionaire could simply give those iconic places new names if it wins the contract worth about $130 million annually. The park itself wouldn’t be renamed, however, because that trademark is limited to use on souvenirs and clothing.
• At the Grand Canyon, the park service and concessionaire Xanterra have been fighting for months over the contract to run the park’s South Rim lodges and restaurants, along with Phantom Ranch at the canyon’s floor. Things got so bad that Colorado-based Xanterra last fall sued the park service in federal court, accusing it of conspiring to give the contract to another company and promoting unfair competition by borrowing tens of millions of dollars from other parks to prop it up. Xanterra said the park service’s $100 million plan to help a new concessionaire take over at Grand Canyon is behind plans to raise entrance fees at national parks across the country.
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