If you’ve been reading us for a while, you know how much we love and advocate for our national parks. They are our nation’s most prized treasures, the parks system a living, breathing organism. So when the government shuts down, most of our national parks do too.
This statement currently lives on nps.gov:
During the federal government shutdown, this website will not be updated and may not reflect current conditions. Some national parks may remain accessible to visitors; however, access may change without notice. Some parks are closed completely. Some visitor services may be available when provided by concessioners or other entities. For most parks, there will be no National Park Service – provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance. For more information see www.doi.gov/shutdown and the park website.
For the last five days, one park in particular has been on the front page of every news outlet, Joshua Tree National Park. Park officials issued this statement last week that said the park has suffered from, “sanitation, safety and resource protection issues,” since December 22nd, when the shutdown began. This includes illegal camping, vandalization and the cutting down of the beloved Joshua trees.
As of Thursday, January 10th, these areas of the park that had previously been closed are now accessible to park visitors:
Stirrup Tank Road
Lost Horse Mine Road and Trial
Keys View Road
Rattlesnake Canyon Picnic Area and Road
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
While designated areas of Joshua Tree National Park are open, we encourage you to tread lightly. Be mindful that there is a very small, skeleton crew, working to keep the park safe and running. Do not hike or drive off trail. Make a great effort to pack your trash in and out. If a trash can is overflowing, do not leave your trash beside it. Bring your own toilet paper. If you see someone abusing the land, contact local authorities. These ancient trees and land have been preserved for us, and are intended to serve future generations. Respect closures and opt for State parks if you can.
We’ll be rolling out our Road Trip Guide to Joshua Tree in the coming week. We encourage you to devour it and make your way to the places that are open for public use. For those spots we mention that are not currently open to the public, we ask that you respect the temporary closures and make your way back to this iconic land when the park is back up and running.
Do you have a question or concern about the government shutdown as it pertains to the national parks system? Leave us a comment below and we’ll be sure to get back to you as quickly as possible.