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How the US government will impact on National Parks during US holiday itineraries and tours

Impact on tourism in America at national parks during the government shutdown

24th Jan, 2019


Boston & New York!!!


Travel between April 17th, 2023 and April 24th, 2023

Book by: June 28th, 2022

We have all heard about the US government shutdown which is now on its 34th day. We have been getting an increasing number of customers booked on a holiday to America asking how this effects some of the fly-drives in the USA and tours to the USA that we feature and that include visits to National Parks. The US National Parks Service (NPS) offices are closed due to the federal government shutdown, however, while their staff may not be being paid, and their offices are inactive, many of the parks themselves remain partially opened.

This typically means that access roads and trails are open, while comforts like campgrounds, restrooms, trash facilities, and restaurants are shuttered. Some state governments, like Utah, are funding the national parks located within their borders so that facilities stay open and attractions like Angel\'s Landing at Zion National Park can continue to inspire onlookers. If you are booked on a tour across the USA that includes visits to a national park in the coming days, the following information may be of use.

Factors affecting all National Parks in America

During the partial shutdown of the federal government due to the lapse of appropriations, national parks will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures. Visitor services provided by park concessioners and other entities should also remain open and operational, including lodging, restaurants and food service, grocery stores, retail locations, bicycle rental, concessioner provided tours, and park shuttle operations.

National Park Service (NPS) staffed visitor centres and contact stations will not be open and no NPS ranger lead programs or tours will be provided. NPS social media and websites are not being monitored or updated and may not reflect current conditions. Entrance stations to the park will be open but will not be staffed with NPS personnel. Most public restrooms in the park will remain open for visitor use.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park remains open. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is open to all visitor vehicles, but may be temporarily closed at times if parking capacity is exceeded or weather events necessitate closure for visitor safety. Shuttle buses will not be running. The Zion Lodge is open and in full operation. Kolob Canyons remains closed.
There will be limited NPS-provided visitor services at Zion National Park through January 21, 2019, thanks to a donation from the State of Utah, Zion Forever Project, Washington County, and City of St. George. The Zion Canyon Visitor Centre, restrooms along the Scenic Drive, and Loop B of Watchman Campground will remain open through that time. Wilderness permits will not be issued during the shutdown. Activities normally requiring a permit, such as canyoneering, backpacking, and overnight climbing, are prohibited at this time.
Please be aware that the park staffing will be minimal and visitors need to be careful and take responsibility for their own safety.  

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park will remain open during the government shutdown, however park facilities, visitor centres, and restroom facilities will be closed. Roads will receive only minimal plowing as needed. Conditions are subject to change.

Grand Canyon National Park

The park’s Backcountry Information Centre will be closed. Visitors with previously issued permits for backcountry camping or river trips on the Colorado River may proceed as permitted but no new permits will be issued during this time. Check-in procedures for backcountry campgrounds and Colorado River trips will remain unchanged. NPS-operated campgrounds will remain open, but check-in/check-out and reservation services will not be provided. Visitors in NPS-operated campgrounds will not be asked to leave unless safety concerns require such action. Visitors holding campground reservations should be aware that there is no guarantee their reserved campsite will be ready and available should they arrive during a government shutdown. The State of Arizona has provided donated funding to assist in keeping Grand Canyon National Park open and accessible for visitors. The funding provided by the state will be used for trash collection, custodial services for restrooms, and snow removal on trails and sidewalks.  

Grand Teton National Park

In response to the lapse in federal appropriations, Grand Teton National Park is implementing its plan for a government shutdown. Government-operated facilities in the park will be closed. Visitors will be able to access the park, though no visitor services will be available.

Grand Teton National Park Deputy Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said, “Visitors will be able to access Grand Teton National Park, but should plan ahead and use caution as park staff will not be available to provide guidance or assistance. If visitors see something that jeopardises visitor safety or park resources, call Teton Interagency Dispatch Centre at 307.739.3301.”

Grand Teton National Park’s shutdown plan includes:

- Park roads will remain open if they are essential to respond to emergencies—this includes most roads that are normally maintained and open at this time of year. Access to all residences will be maintained.  
- Emergency response may be delayed.
- Entrance stations will not be staffed.
- Grooming of the Teton Park Road will continue through a partnership agreement with Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Grooming is scheduled to occur twice a week.  
- Teton Interagency Dispatch Centre will be available during normal winter hours—6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Emergency 911 calls will be answered by Teton County Dispatch 24 hours/day.
- Park website and social media sites will not be maintained.
- Concessioners and Commercial Use Authorisation holders may continue to provide visitor services after coordination with the park to ensure compliance with government shutdown protocols.
- Access to Yellowstone National Park’s south entrance will continue, including staging and winter services available at Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch in John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are open. All areas typically open this time of year are open, but will close as needed for visitor safety and winter conditions. Call 559-565-3341 for current closures, weather, and road conditions.

Yellowstone National Park

In response to the lapse in federal appropriations, Yellowstone National Park is implementing its plan for a government shutdown. The park will remain open, however, all government-run operations and facilities are closed.

National Park Service (NPS) staff will:

- Collect trash and clean bathrooms across the park. We appreciate the efforts of park concessioners, partners, and local community groups who have performed these services since December 22.
- Staff entrance stations (all except Northeast) and the Madison Warming Hut to provide safety information for visitors. Fees will not be collected at the entrance stations.
- Remove snow at Canyon overlooks to provide better visitor access and improve safety.
- These additional basic services will be funded by the park\'s recreation fee revenue as outlined in the recent statement by NPS Deputy Director, P. Daniel Smith. While basic visitor services have been restored, other services and facilities, including visitor centres, remain closed.

The park will continue to provide services that have been in effect since the shutdown began:
- The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through Mammoth Hot Springs to the Northeast Entrance at Cooke City, Montana, is open to wheeled vehicle travel. Visitors can access all the commercial services along this route.
- Visitors can also access commercial services in the interior of the park via oversnow travel (e.g. at Old Faithful). The park extends a special thank you to the concessioners, especially Xanterra Travel Collection, who have made donations enabling NPS staff to groom roads and allow oversnow access to continue.
- Guided snowmobile and snowcoach trips with commercial operators are allowed. Previously permitted non-commercially guided snowmobile trips are also allowed (new permits are not being issued).
- Park staff are providing emergency services and law enforcement. All park regulations, including those regarding oversnow travel, are in effect as normal.

Yosemite National Park

During the federal government shutdown, Yosemite is open and concessions are operating normally. Most roads normally open in winter remain open, conditions permitting. Many National Park Service facilities are closed. Mariposa Grove, Hetch Hetchy (Monday-Wednesday), Wawona and Hodgdon Meadow Campgrounds, Mist and John Muir Trails, and all snow play areas are closed due to human waste issues and lack of staffing.

Zion National Park

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is open to all visitor vehicles, but may be temporarily closed at times if parking capacity is exceeded or weather events necessitate closure for visitor safety. Shuttle buses will not be running. The Zion Lodge is open and in full operation. Kolob Canyons remains closed.
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