Arguably the most visible effect of the government shutdown is the closure of 401 National Parks, including Glacier Park. Glacier counts on an average of 50 to 60 thousand visitors in the month of October. Public Affairs Officer Denise Germann with the Park said there has been confusion, and surprise about the Park being closed.
“It’s closed to all recreational use. Any visitors that are in the Park at this time will be asked to leave. Anybody that’s camping or lodging in National Parks across the country are allowed 48 hours to vacate, and find new area for camping or lodging,” Germann said this means no hiking, no biking, no driving along the open portions of the Going-to-the-Sun-Road.
Cathy and Art Heany had traveled from southern California for a first time visit to Glacier. Heany said they rented a cabin in neighboring Columbia Falls intending to spend the next several days exploring the Park in the fall, now they’re “collecting brochures and just talking to people and trying to decide what we’re going to do the next few days,” Heany said. They could only get out of the contract with the cabin rental if something like a forest fire called for evacuations.
Louis Bredoux traveled from the North of France, via Spokane, to hike, and possibly do some back country camping in Glacier Park.
“It’s our first time in the US, I think it’s going to be the last,” Bredoux said.
Germann said Park employees who are staying on include law enforcement, emergency personnel like firefighters, and those who work with utilities like the water system. She said this is the time of year where they’re busy shutting down facilities, campgrounds, and services.
“I don’t think there’s every a good time for employees to go on furlough in a non-pay status, I don’t think there’s ever a good time to tell your visitors ‘we’re closed today, and you can’t come in’,” Germann said construction on the Going-to-the-Sun-Road is continuing as the weather allows.