Anyone arriving at the Grand Canyon National Park today will find the gates locked and be turned away.
And anyone already camping or staying at one of the lodges will be given 48 hours to get out.
Common sense didn’t prevail in Congress as lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on the federal budget. The result, a shutdown of the Grand Canyon National Park with park workers temporarily furloughed.
Employees of the park were given enough time to secure property and files. Law enforcement and the health staff are scheduled to remain on duty to carry out the shutdown over the next few days. Signs will be posted at trailheads telling people to leave.
Hotels, campgrounds and trails will be cleared. Park visitors already camping and hiking in the backcountry or enjoying river rafting trips will be able to finish their Grand Canyon tour. Helicopter tours will also continue.
According to Arizona’s Gov. Brewer, the shutdown of the Grand Canyon is not a top concern and she won’t be using state resources to keep the park open during the federal government shutdown.
But National Park Service spokesman Mike Litters notes that Grand Canyon visitors contribute about $76 million a day to local economies. With the shutdown, the agency will lose about $450,000 a day in entrance fees, boat rentals, backcountry permits, and other sales.
A shutdown would also impact tour companies, hotels, restaurants, and gift shops in nearby states and communities that depend on access to the Grand Canyon.
The last park shutdown occurred in 1995 when former Gov. Symington offered state resources to keep the park open. The offer was rejected by former Grand Canyon Superintendent Arnberger.
Each year, almost 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon. Many visitors go to great lengths to see the Grand Canyon South Rim, some planning and saving for their trip months or years in advance. The emotional damage is priceless and the Feds won’t be able to repay that.