Zion National Park Remained Open Through Government Shutdown
Whether or not the brief government shutdown that we recently experienced has any real repercussions, one thing that it certainly didn’t affect (and likely never will if it ever happens again) is the public’s ability to visit Zion National Park or any of the many national parks in the country. Anyone and everyone was free to venture into the park as usual, whether or not government employees check in for work. That certainly isn’t to say that those government workers weren’t inconvenienced considerably, but as far visitors and tourists were concerned, our day went about mostly as usual. A good amount of people visited Zion during the shutdown and I imagine they had a great time knowing that a lot of people didn’t think to come.
Hardly anything changes for our country’s national parks during such an event, other than a few inconveniences that most would consider minor. Parks have been known, in the past, to “lock the gates”, so to speak, during government shutdowns, but usually, they remain open. If you visited any of the national parks during the government shutdown you may have noticed that restrooms were locked up (or at least they were supposed to be), some trash cans needed to be emptied, public information booths were vacant, many (if not all) campgrounds were closed, park programs were temporarily suspended, and that rescue and emergency services were either limited or not functioning at all. Some of these items may have been more of an issue for some compared to others, but overall the headaches are typically minimal for national parks during government shutdowns, which was the case in this particular instance as the shutdown lasted for a very small amount of time.
If the shutdown had lasted longer than it did – let’s say near a week or longer – measures definitely would have been taken in regards to health and safety concerns, such as sending folks in to service portable restrooms and pit toilets, to check all water systems to make sure they were functioning properly, and to make sure that any other critical infrastructure maintains functionality. The next time this happens – if there is a next time – you can be almost confident that you will still be able to enter Zion National Park like usual and explore it as you would any other day, but it is probably still worth your time to find out for sure before making the drive if public access is still being granted.