The last federal government shutdown was in 2013, and one of the immediate effects that was felt by campers was the shutdown of federal parks. It appears that most federal parks are being left open when possible, but no staff or resources will be available. So here are a few things you may consider if you plan on camping at a federal park during the shutdown:
- The gate may or may not be open when you get there. Parks like Yosemite, and Big Bend National Parks are open right now, but but not every federal park is open, and those gates could be locked at any moment. The NPS is not offering much information right now, so keep your fingers crossed! NPS Twitter is inactive, but you may be able to search and find out what other users are reporting.
- Your reserved site might not be ready. Park staff have all been furloughed, so there is nobody to guide you to your site, prep the site for you, or to help you if you need help. That includes rescue and emergency medical services, so stay safe and be prepared for the unexpected. Print out any maps or other information before you head out.
- Guided tours, hikes, and the like are shut own until the federal government re-opens. So that park ranger guided hike that points out the nest of the elusive desert swallow is canceled until everything is back to normal
- There is no trash pickup or toilet services. Make sure you bring extra garbage bags, and plan on hauling it all out with you. If you have a trailer or RV, you’ll have a toilet, but no dump station. Car campers might find the bathrooms locked, or in and “unpleasant” state. Make sure to bring your PahaQue TeePee for privacy as well as a portable camping toilet and your own paper.
Hopefully this will all be over soon, and we’ll be back to normal. Are you visiting federal parks during the shutdown? head on over to our Facebook page and tell us what you found.