What Park Visitors Are Finding on 'Shutdown' Day

Here's what's open and what's closed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 22, 2018 5:15 PM CST
How the Shutdown Is Affecting Our Parks
Motorists glide through the unattended toll booths at Rocky Mountain National Park Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in Estes Park, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(Newser) – The huddled masses are still able to visit the Statue of Liberty. The Grand Canyon is open for business. The government says other national parks "will remain as accessible as possible," although some roads at Rocky Mountain National Park are closed as snow goes unplowed, the AP reports. But, while the star-spangled banner yet waves at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the gates at the War of 1812 landmark are locked. Tourists trekking to parks and historic sites across the US on Saturday are seeing a mix of impacts from the federal government's second shutdown in less than a year. Some attractions are staying open thanks to funding from states and charitable groups. At some parks, you're welcome to take a hike—but you're largely on your own. At others, like the closed Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, you're out of luck. In detail:

  • Utah's state government is paying to staff the visitor centers at Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks.
  • Arizona is ponying up to keep trails, shuttles, and restrooms open at the Grand Canyon.
  • New York is footing the bill for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for the third shutdown in five years.
  • At Acadia National Park in Maine, austerity measures include closing some bathrooms, curbing trash collection, and cutting back on snowplowing.
  • A lack of plowing is closing roads at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the fourth most popular national park in the country, and the visitor centers are locked.

  • Unplowed roads also could hinder access to Crater Lake in Oregon, Mount Rainier in Washington and other parks normally inundated with snow this time of year.
  • Hotels, restaurants, stores, and gas stations at Yosemite National Park in California remain open and seem unaffected by the shutdown, which has canceled some programs, closed visitor centers, and left campgrounds unstaffed.
  • Superintendent Cassius Cash of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee said visitors should practice "leave no trace" principles to avoid fouling up the park when no visitor services are available.
  • At Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, nonprofit organizations are teaming up to keep the visitor center open at the government-run USS Arizona Memorial.
  • In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey activated the state's Grand Canyon Protection Plan, which calls for the state to underwrite the cost of public safety and basic services at the desert treasure.
  • The shutdown is affecting nine of the 15 Cabinet-level departments, including Interior, which runs national parks, and Agriculture, which runs national forests. About 16,000 National Park Service employees—80% of the agency's workforce—are being furloughed.
See what happened Saturday during during government negotiations. (Read more government shutdown stories.)

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