You better plan your bathroom breaks carefully if you're enjoying a day in West Yellowstone. The lack of public restrooms in such a popular tourist destination is epic, and getting worse.

A few of us found ourselves in West the other day, enjoying a day trip and doing some tourist shopping. Cheesy t-shirts are my thing. Anyway, after buying nearly $120 worth of (totally awesome) tchotchkes, I asked where the ladies' room was. "We don't have a public bathroom here," was the response.

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Okie dokie. I had heard this was becoming an issue in West but had zero interest in giving the clerk a hard time about why the hell not, at least for paying customers. As grown adults, we just walked back to our hotel room, but it got me thinking about what a 'pain in the ass' that situation could be if you were having tummy issues or were just passing through town trying to enjoy some shopping.

Turns out this has been quite the topic of online discussion for locals of West Yellowstone. The lack of public restrooms in any town is annoying at best and a real problem for super busy tourist towns like West. I mean, people gotta pee. And God help you if you're wandering around with a couple of little kids.

Jan Antonin Kolar - Unsplash
Jan Antonin Kolar - Unsplash

Recently in one of the West Yellowstone forums, the topic was brought up: "Dear Town Of West Yellowstone. Please please please put some of these units located in the alley parking lots throughout town. Our visitors need a clean place to go to the bathroom that is closer than our current locations. They need places to change their babies, wash their hands and use the restroom without walking two or three blocks in either direction." (There was a picture attached of basically a large, semi-permanent porta-potty.)

Dan Meyers - Unsplash
Dan Meyers - Unsplash

The responses? Not chock full of solutions but almost completely in agreement. Some of the responses echoed my own experience only days earlier, being denied use of a store's restroom.

  • "resort tax dollars should pay for public restrooms"
  • "The restrooms that are available in the city park do not have adequate changing tables and or space to handle the large volume of people that come through this town on a daily basis in the summer."
  • "buy a pack of gum at several local gas stations"
  • "who’s paying for cleaning, maintenance, and upkeep? I personally don’t want to pay for tourists to pee. Our city park has adequate permanent facilities"
  • "Where are all the resort tax dollars going anyway now that the cat is out of the bag. No reason these can’t go in the busiest alley ways like behind Park Plaza and Canyon Square. If the city is worried about vagrants or drug users using them then lock them up overnight"
  • "a look at the areas around Wash. DC & how they've dealt w/ this issue might be helpful.. strategically placed fully automated unisex restrooms are indeed a thing.. after every user they self sanitize, and replenish when needed."
  • "And for cleaning/main. instead of jail time or fines, use it for community service, to keep costs down?"
  • "three of the council members who owned businesses on canyon and yellowstone said they have never heard of the need for restrooms and the town should partner with the gas stations and businesses to offer them."
  • "Common decency, act as a society. We are only as good as our poorest. Try to pretend to be caring humans, yeah? Humans need to pee. Would you rather it in the street or in a facility?"

I'm not here to rag on the local business owners. It's their call on how they want to operate their shop and if they want to deal with people off the street and customers using the restroom. Personally, I think it's silly NOT to allow people to use the bathroom but I see the slippery slope they're facing. The town has got to figure this out...

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