Visitors could still ride snowmobiles and ski into Yellowstone National Park Saturday to marvel at the geysers and buffalo herds, despite the federal government shutdown.
At Mesa Verde National Park, the main road had been plowed of fresh-fallen snow, but all facilities were shut down. Signs warned visitors that they were entering at their own risk, and the park website signed off with a note stating that because of the federal shutdown, it would not be updated. Only a viewpoint of Spruce Tree House remained open.
“No visitor services are available, so there are no restrooms, gasoline, or food services in the park,” the website notice said. “Depending on road and winter weather conditions, the main park road may have to be closed due to unsafe driving conditions.”
Hovenweep National Monument, about 45 miles west of Cortez, also announced that it would not provide services or update its website.
The Anasazi Heritage Center is closed as well, said manager Marietta Eaton. The trails and roads of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument west of Cortez are still open to the public. Bureau of Land Management employees have been furloughed; however, federal law enforcement will remain on duty.
According to a BLM press release, “roads, trails, campgrounds, boat ramps and recreation sites will remain accessible to visitors, but emergency and rescue services will be limited. All BLM facilities on public lands however will be closed.”
The Dolores Public Lands office and visitor’s center is closed. A phone message states: “This U.S. Department of Agriculture office is currently closed due to lapse in federal funding. The office will reopen once Congress resumes funding.”
The federal government shutdown does not impact the Four Corners Monument and Navajo Tribal Park because it is run by the Navajo Nation, said a spokesperson. The monument continues to operate as usual and is open every day.
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and Yosemite National Park in California were open, but few Park Service staff were available to help visitors.Across the country in New York, the nation’s most famous monuments to immigration – the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – were closed.The Interior Department had vowed to keep open as many parks, monuments and public lands as possible during the shutdown, which began at midnight Friday on the East Coast.
In Yellowstone, cross-country skier Carol Weaver was unhappy with lawmakers, even though the trails were open for her and a group of friends making a two-day visit.Yellowstone had 2 inches of fresh snow on Saturday and temperatures in the teens. Visitor centers, public toilets and other facilities run by the National Park Service were closed, but privately operated hotels, tour services and gift shops were open.
Snow coaches – small buses with tank-like tracks and oversized tires – shuttled visitors from the edge of the park to the geyser field that includes Old Faithful and to other popular destinations within the parks remote interior.
In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall – where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed – were closed.In Boston, the USS Constitution, the 220-year-old warship anchored at Charlestown Navy Yard, was open to visitors. But the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Bunker Hill was closed.Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood home in Atlanta was closed, along with historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and the visitor center at MLK National Historic Site.A monument and museum dedicated to the victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, however, stayed open. Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, said the center is affiliated with the National Park Service but is owned and operated by the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation.In New Mexico, parts of Bandelier National Monument’s cliff dwellings and fragile archaeological sites were off-limits to protect them from damage, but the entrance road and some trails were open.