Visiting the National Parks During the Winter 2019 Government Shutdown

I just finished up a winter National Park road trip through California, stopping in Yosemite, Sequoia, and Death Valley – my experience visiting during the 2019 government shutdown is part 1 of this blog post. Read on below for part 2: Winter Road Trip Adventures in the National Parks of California – Yosemite, Sequoia, & Death Valley.

First thing first – you generally should NOT visit the parks during a government shutdown. But wait, you think – you are writing an entire article about visiting them! Before I left for this trip, I was very nervous to visit the parks during the shutdown. If my flights hadn’t been nonrefundable, I would have changed my plans immediately and tried to steer clear. We are only just scratching the surface with recent news stories revealing the effect humans have had during the closure. Stories of trash and human excrement, extreme destruction, and more made my heart ache and I did not to set a bad example on social media for visiting. I decided at the very least I would bring trash bags to pick up any waste I found, do my part to help clean the parks and leave them better than when I arrived, and document my experience so that others could be well informed before considering going as well.

Let’s look at what visiting a national park during a government shutdown is like in general, and then I’ll discuss my experience at each specific park I visited. If you go, which again, despite my experiences I do not condone, you will have NO bathrooms available for use, there will be NO trash pickup (you must pack everything out!), NO visitor services will be available, certain trails and roads will likely be closed (and updates about which trails and roads are closed may not be updated on the park’s website), there will be fewer rangers present in case you get in an accident, get lost, or even just have questions (no one will be answering phones either), and in general visiting the parks will be more hazardous.

Finally, the parks will not be collecting fees – which may at first make it more enticing to visit, but the extreme loss of revenue during the government closure may end up being one of the most devastating results. While parks have steadily increased their entry fees in recent years, this is to keep up with dramatically increased costs of keeping the parks clean, safe, and protected for future visitors. With huge losses in revenue of late, crucial maintenance projects will be delayed, increased cleaning costs will cut into already overwhelmed finances, and this may result in further increased entry fees at the most popular parks to combat recent destruction.

Yosemite National Park

Sequoia National Park

Death Valley National Park

Get Tips & More Information in Part 2 of this Blog Post

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RoamFreeRebecca content creator photographer

Hey I’m Rebecca!

I’m a freelance travel & outdoors photographer and blogger living in the US but you can find me adventuring around the globe! On this blog I share tips to help you improve your photography, inspiration to explore the outdoors, destination guides, and travel tips, and more to plan your own adventures!

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