Let’s face it – Americans love to travel. Summer is almost here, so now is the perfect time to start planning the next vacation. Americans have access to more than 84 million acres of protected regions that showcase the magnificent beauty, historic past and wilderness of this country. There are a total of 398 park areas, including 59 U.S. national parks. Some of the most popular ones are the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the Great Smoky Mountains.
But, if you are heading to one of these parks this summer, you may have to endure a few long waits, overflowing trash cans, and locked restrooms, all due to federal budget cuts. According to John Garder, spokesman for the National Parks Conservation Association, travelers will have to do more planning this year. He also advises to call ahead to find out if the campgrounds are going to operate, since the parks have 900 fewer full time employees.
Federal budget cuts are taking $183 million from the National Parks Service, which operates 401 parks, lakeshores, parkways, memorials, and historic monuments. In 2012 alone, these parks enjoyed nearly 300 million visitors.
For those planning a Grand Canyon vacation, visitors are already dealing with longer waiting lines at the entrance because of fewer employees during busy periods. According to spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge, the waits are anticipated to get even worse this summer.
The Grand Canyon south rim and north rim get nearly 5 million visitors per year. The park has to operate with fewer staff members as it recently cut six seasonal workers. Restrooms may not be cleaned as often as they used to be, and campers and hikers requesting permits should be prepared to spend more time waiting in lines.
The good news is that the Grand Canyon Visitor Center won’t experience any disruption of service. The Visitor Center is located at the South Rim entrance of the Grand Canyon and provides information about Grand Canyon tours, hotels, and attractions. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits to learn about the Grand Canyon, pre-purchase entrance passes, and talk to local area representatives about how to create the perfect Grand Canyon trip.