National Parks Re-Open during Government Shutdown

The U.S. tourism industry is losing an estimated $152 million each day the federal government’s “non-essential” programs remain closed. With national parks in many states essential to the livelihood of travel and tourist-friendly communities, states are now taking matters into their own hands to lessen hardship for its local economies by footing the bill and re-opening the parks.

Ten days into the shutdown, news reports indicated the Obama administration moved to allow national parks to be re-opened under specific deals. An agreement was reached with the Department of the Interior which allowed state funds to be used to reopen federal parks. States are required to pony up and wire money to Washington in order to open for business. After the federal budget is passed, states will seek reimbursement.

Currently, the following parks have been temporarily re-opened:

  • New York: The Statue of Liberty, Oct 12-17
  • South Dakota: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Oct 14-23
  • Arizona: Grand Canyon, Oct 12-18
  • Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park, Oct 11-20
  • Utah: Eight parks, Oct 11-20
    • Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Natural Bridges National Monument, Zion National Park

Group leaders and travelers looking to visit these locations within this timeframe will be able to enjoy the parks, unaffected by the shutdown. Should the shutdown outlast these windows, states may elect to push more money through to extend the opening to visitors.

The numbers of those affected by the government shutdown are shocking. Peter Greenberg published a breakdown of the people and money that is lost each day in a travel news article. Below are just a few of the statistics, courtesy of

  • 152 million: The amount of money U.S. is losing EVERY DAY in economic output because of lost travel-related activity, according to Roger Dow, president of U.S. Travel.
  • 14 million:  The economic impact the shutdown has caused the 600 operators who are members of the National Tour Association (NTA).
  • 8 million: The amount the nation’s hotel industry is losing per day, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. There is a 12 percent drop in business compared with the same period last year.
  • 700,000: The people who would have been visiting national parks each day.

Has the government shutdown affected your group travel plans? Have you had to cancel reservations or reschedule? We want to know about it! Send us an email by clicking here and share how your plans have changed due to the shutdown.