Government Shutdown Would Affect National Park Employees, Visitors

By: Janelle Lilley Email
By: Janelle Lilley Email

Every April, 800,000 people visit the national parks, but with the possibility of a government shutdown Friday night, the Shenandoah National Park would be one of 394 national parks to close.

Visitor Patrick O'Leary came to SNP Thursday to camp with his dad and brother from Ohio.

"We just know it's a great campground. We are doing some backpacking possibly tomorrow and doing some hiking today while it's nice out," comments O'Leary.

However, while he's out hiking, continuing gridlock over the national budget in Washington, D.C. might mean a government shutdown, which would affect park visitors.

"We would close the gates, deny entrance to Skyline Drive and go around to the campgrounds and hotels and ask people to leave," explains chief spokesperson for the National Parks Service David Barna.

That was some surprising news for the O'Learys.

"When we drove into the park, they didn't mention anything. They just asked if we wanted some maps and that was about it. So, this is the first we've heard of it actually affecting the park," says O'Leary.

Park officials don't want to alarm visitors yet and are still hoping for a solution.

"It's a little premature for us to contact guests, because as you see on the television and the news, Congress and the president are still trying to resolve this," explains Barna.

However, if no deal is reached, campers would have 24 to 48 hours to pack up their gear and leave the park.

"It would be kind of crazy trying to evacuate the whole park and having everybody drive out and would be kind of a bummer, especially if you're not real close or you come from Ohio or so and want to camp for the week," comments O'Leary.

In addition to closing park gates, nearly 17,000 park employees would be furloughed nationwide.

On top of that, the 15,000 non-government employees at gift shops and lodges within the parks would also not report to work. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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