Government Shutdown & National Parks: What To Know

With the deadline for a government shutdown drawing closer, questions as to what impacts will be felt across the nation are in everyone’s minds. Due to failure to compromise on a budget back in 2013, a shutdown of 16 days led to closures of public lands that the National Park Service managed. Many question if the similar closures will take place if a compromise it not met before the deadline.

In an email this week, Interior  Department spokesman Heather Swift stated:

“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 impacts of a government shutdown widely vary, some impacts that can be expected across the board.

If Congress fails to compromise on a budget, it is expected that 401 national parks across the nation will be closed potentially impacting as many as 715,000 visitors to our national parks each day that the government remains shut down.

National Parks and wildlife refuges will be opened with limited access wherever possible, while campgrounds, full-service restrooms, concessions and other services that would require staffing will not be operational. The shutdown may effect many of the National Parks, other public space will remain open to visitors.

Those spaces include:

  • War Memorials
  • Some Museums
  • Open Air Parks

Additional resources on what to expect during a government shutdown can be found on the National Parks Foundation website.