While Government shutdowns don’t happen all that often, when they do, one area that could be majorly impacted is your vacation. And that’s especially true of trips planned to the National Parks.
When the Government shuts down, even if it’s only a partial shutdown, the National Parks are pretty much always affected. As beautiful and amazing as they are, the National Parks are not considered essential, so funding to the parks is shut off as long as the Government is closed.
We want to highlight a few things to know if you’ve got a trip planned to the National Parks in the midst of a Government shutdown.
Check the sites for updates
An easy way to check the status of your park is to go to the website. When they are closed due to a shutdown, a big bold notice will appear on the site. Although the rest of the site won’t likely be updated during this time, it will also give you notice when the park is up and running as normal.
You can also check the sites to see if they will be open with no ranger presence. If you’re looking for a day trip that might be an option. But, also keep in mind, that with a limited staff there are potential safety concerns and many visitor benefits, including bathrooms, won’t be operational.
Confirm reservations before you go
Some parks will have different rules and operational schedules during a Government shutdown. Rather than guess, the best thing you can do is call when you hear the news of a shutdown approaching.
The employees at the park or campground can give you the best information available. They can tell you if your reservation will be upheld and what to do in case it won’t.
It never hurts to give a call and ask to double check!
Since some sites will not have their essential operations going, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you still are able to visit or camp in a park, make sure you bring adequate supplies to keep you covered. Think of it as an experience in doing a little bit of bush camping or going off the grid.
The main items to bring with you include plenty of extra food and water, bags to collect your trash once you leave the park, and tools for disposing of waste.
Keep an eye on the news
Negotiations happen all the time in Washington, D.C., so a Government shutdown can really be an ever-changing situation. Even if you aren’t a regular news watcher, check in with trusted sources. Set alerts to make sure you have a good idea of what’s happening before you go. That way, you can make any changes to your plans as necessary.
Hopefully, you won’t need to deal with a shutdown during your next National Park trip. But if you do, you can use these tips to stay ahead of the game.