National Parks & Government Shutdowns: What to Expect

Sunrise at Bryce Canyon

The deadline for a government shutdown is closing in and the question of what impact it will have on the nation has become a hot topic throughout the week. The last time the United States government shut down was back in 2013, when Congress failed to reach an agreement on a budget. That shutdown lasted a total of 16 days and was responsible for the closure of National Parks as well as public lands managed by the National Park Services.

Like 2013, if Congress fails to pass a budget by their Friday deadline, it is anticipated that the 401 National Parks, as well as other lands, monuments and museums overseen by the government, will be shut down. Closure of the National Parks is anticipated to impact as many as 715,000 visitors each day that the parks remain closed.

In anticipation of the closure, the Spokesman of the Interior Department, Heather Swift, sent out an email earlier this week, in which she stated the following:

“The American public and especially our veterans who come to our nation’s capital should find war memorials and open-air parks open to the public. Additionally, many of our National Parks, refuges and other public lands will still try to allow limited access wherever possible. For example, this means that roads that have already been open should remain open (think snow removal) and vaulted toilets (wilderness type restrooms) should remain open, however services that require staffing and maintenance such as campgrounds, full-service restrooms, and concessions that require some Park staff or assistance will not be operating.

“Other areas such as culturally sensitive areas or backcountry areas that present a risk to visitors may also have restricted access.”

While the fear of a shutdown lingers, the Interior Department stated that limited access to wildlife refuges and National Parks will remain available wherever possible. Concessions, campgrounds, full-service restrooms and other services, which require staffing, will not be operational during a shutdown. While the impacts of a shutdown will impact many of the National Parks, many public spaces will remain open to visitors.

These spaces include:

  • War Memorials
  • Museums
  • Open Air Parks

For additional information on what to expect during a government shutdown please visit the National Parks Foundation website.

One Comment on “National Parks & Government Shutdowns: What to Expect”

  1. My family is planning a cross country trip from VA to CA in April. All of our planned stops are National Parks. This trip will be pointless if the parks are closed. Updates are needed ASAP!

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