President Donald Trump signed a bill late Friday that reopened the federal government for three weeks, but it will take some time before Mesa Verde National Park reopens to the public.
A U.S. park ranger on Saturday morning was posted as the front entrance to turn visitors away, as has been the case since the day after Christmas, when a snowstorm forced the park to close because of a lack of funding for snowplow drivers.
The federal employee said there is road and guardrail damage throughout the park. He said there was a “significant” rockfall off Park Point – the highest landmark at the park. Some rocks were half the size of a large SUV, he said.
The ranger said he shared information that he would tell any visitor, but he wished to remain anonymous.
On Sunday, Cristy Brown, public information officer at the park, said in an email to The Journal that the park would reopen at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 4.
“During the shutdown, several large rock falls occurred on the main park road between mile markers 2 and 3, causing damage to the road and guardrail,” Brown said. “Repairing the road damage and replacing the guardrail, along with substantial snow removal, are necessary to ensure visitor and staff safety prior to the park reopening.”
The Visitor and Research Center at the entrance of the park also will reopen on Feb. 4.
Trump signed legislation on Jan. 16 that will provide back pay for federal employees who worked during the shutdown, including U.S. park rangers.
There were no other employees working at the park on Saturday, and no one answered phones at the visitor center.
Throughout the shutdown, communication was sketchy.
A banner on the National Park Service website as recently as Saturday morning stated that no one would update the website during the shutdown and that access to parks may change without notice.
The Mesa Verde National Park website still stated the park would remain open during the shutdown, even though that hadn’t been the case for more than a month. The last post on the Mesa Verde Facebook page on Jan. 5 informed the public that the park would remain closed until the government reopened.
On Sunday, the National Park Service posted a notice on its website stating that it was preparing to resume regular operations, although “the schedule for individual parks may vary depending on staff size and complexity of operations.”
Mesa Verde said Sunday morning on its Facebook page that it would reopen on Feb. 4.
“We would like to thank everyone for their cooperation and understanding during the shutdown, and the extended closure of the park,” Brown said Sunday.