There’s nothing more frustrating than planning all year for a vacation, only to have it ruined by an unforeseen event, such as a government shutdown. I know this first hand, as I was out and about covering some national parks during the 2013 shutdown, and the gates were locked and facilities were closed. I had to reschedule my visits at a later time, so I could complete my book. Trust me, I was not a happy camper.
But that’s not the way it will work this time around. According to Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift, “In the event of a shutdown, National Parks and other public lands will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures.”
Does that mean that it will be business as usual? Well not exactly, but the roads and vault toilets will remain open. That said, any services that that require National Park Service (NPS) staff, such as campgrounds, full service restrooms and NPS staffed concessions will be closed. Additionally, culturally sensitive or backcountry areas that might pose a risk to visitors will also be shut down.
An although the services in the individual parks will vary greatly, Xanterra recently announced that their national park concessions – including lodges, restaurants, retail outlets and services – will remain open for business as usual.
Xanterra operates concessions in the following parks:
- Grand Canyon
- Crater Lake
- Mt. Rushmore
- Death Valley (The Inn at Death Valley & The Ranch at Death Valley)
Additionally, the Grand Canyon Railway, which runs from Williams to the South Rim will operate on its regular schedule.
So although a government shutdown could pose some problems, it appears that our national parks will be able to dodge the brunt of them this time. And that’s very good news.