National Parks Re-open Across the West

Friday, October 18 2013 20:36   Other NPs
National parks and monuments throughout the West reopened Friday morning, Oct. 18, 2913, as federal appropriations legislation signed by President Obama got the federal government working again. Park rangers were busy Thursday night and into Friday getting parks ready to once again welcome visitors.

The gates to the world's first national park, Yellowstone, were opened after a 16-day closure. Visitors were being encouraged to return to the region to take advantage of the crisp weather and enjoy the last few weeks of the fall season.

yellowstone_gateopenAll of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park now are open to visitors. All roads in the park are open with the exception of the section linking Tower Junction and Canyon over Dunraven Pass, which has closed for the season. Outside the park's Northeast Entrance, US-212 remains open through Silver Gate and Cooke City east to the junction with WY-296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. The road over Beartooth Pass has closed for the season.

Another Western treasure, Glacier National Park, also opened Friday to welcome visitors anxious to explore this natural wonder. Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said, "We are pleased to have the park open for visitors and continue with our responsibilities of managing and protecting the resources."

As of Thursday morning, the park's website and social media sites were active, after being inactive or removed during the shutdown. Barricades at park entrances and throughout the park were removed early Thursday morning. Park road crews began monitoring roads, including conducting a sweep of the Going-to-the-Sun Road to clean debris/rocks from the road. When the road is clear of debris, public access will be available to Big Bend through Sunday, Oct. 20.

One of the West's treasures, Yosemite National Park, also opened, and after dodging a major forest fire this summer was eager to greet the public.

"We are excited to re-open and to welcome visitors back to Yosemite," said park superintendent Don Neubacher. "Autumn is a particularly special season to enjoy Yosemite's colorful grandeur."

Major highways and roads leading into and through Yosemite National Park, including the Glacier Point and Mariposa Grove roads, are open to vehicles. Park visitor centers have reopened and Ranger-led programs resumed Friday. Visitors are urged to consult the Yosemite Guide for a list of programs.

Valley campgrounds in Yosemite re-opened on Friday. Those with reservations were able to check in by noon. First come, first serve sites at Camp Four, Wawona and Hodgdon were also available.

Delaware North Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc., the park's primary concessioner, also reopened facilities and began welcoming guests Friday. The Ansel Adams Gallery, located in Yosemite Village, also reopened.

The response at Chiricahua National Monument, Coronado National Memorial, and Fort Bowie National Historic Site in Arizona was typical.

"We are very happy to be open and to able to welcome visitors to these national treasures," said Superintendent H. Lane Baker on Thursday. "With cooler temperatures and clear skies, autumn is an especially wonderful time to enjoy all that our National Park Service sites in Cochise County have to offer."

Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, Nebraska also re-opened to visitors Friday. Visitors can access the Heritage Center, Education Center, historic structures and trails.

"We are
happy to be back at work and welcome visitors to Homestead," said Superintendent Mark Engler. "Autumn is a particularly special season to enjoy all that the park has to offer."

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Strong City, Kansas, also re-opened to visitors Friday. Visitors began accessing park buildings and trails early that morning, while staff quickly brought operations and other public services back online. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve has been closed since Oct. 1 due to the lapse in Congressional appropriations.

"We are excited and happy to be back at work and ready to welcome visitors to Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve," said Superintendent Wendy Lauritzen. "For visitors waiting all year to see the ‘tall grass,' autumn is a particularly special season to enjoy the tallgrass prairie environment and all that it has to offer."

Even the major concessionaires got the word out that things were getting back to business.

"With the end of the government shutdown, National Park concessioner Forever Resorts' destinations at
Big Bend National Park in South Texas, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, marina operations in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Black Canyon/Willow Beach River Adventures on the Colorado River in Nevada and camping and marina operations at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in California have reopened," the company's press release announced. "This follows last Friday's reopening of Antelope Point Marina at Lake Powell, The Lodge at Bryce Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park (Forever Resorts has the Rocky Mountain Park Inn in nearby Estes Park, Colo.). These destinations are open throughout the year and will be fully operational for fall and winter visitors beginning, Friday, Oct. 18," the release added.

Another major concessionaire,
Xanterra Parks & Resorts, made a similar announcement.

"Naturally, we are very pleased that we can welcome travelers from around the world back to our national parks and that our dedicated employees can get back to work," said Andrew N. Todd, president and CEO of Xanterra. "During this difficult period, I have been especially proud of the patience and dedication of our employees."

Xanterra operates concessions in the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Utah's Zion National Park and California's Death Valley National Park.

"America's 401 national parks are open for business!" said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis on Friday. "The professional men and women of the National Park Service are waiting to greet visitors with open arms and help you have the time of your life in these national treasures. Please come out and enjoy the fall in some of the most spectacular places on the planet."


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