How the Government Shutdown Impacts Our Local National Parks

The Government has shut down for an indefinite period of time—but what happens to our National Parks? Our current circumstances are different from the shutdown of 2013, when we could not access our local National Parks for 16 days. Amidst our present shutdown, our parks will remain open, however this will be in limited conditions. The National Park Service will cease the provision of all visitor services, meaning visitor centers, campgrounds, trash collections, and full-service restrooms will not be maintained. The shutdown procedure for every park is different, based on the size, location and infrastructure of each park.For us here in Jackson Hole, and particularly with our Wildlife Expeditions, our immediate concerns are the current conditions of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. After scheming a few back-up plans earlier in the week, just in case the gates were barricaded again, we breathe a sigh of relief. We do not have to cancel any expeditions into the parks, and they can continue as normal. Guided snowcoach and snowmobile trips are allowed in the park with commercial operators, but do be aware that this is not allowed with non-commercial operations.

Driving through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in the winter is remarkably peaceful and quiet, with fewer visitors and a small NPS staff. During the shutdown the number of staff will be kept at a minimum throughout the parks. The NPS Contingency Plan states that “staffing will be held to the amount needed for the protection of life, property, and public health and safety.” Although we are allowed to enter and enjoy the parks, there will be no visitor services and reduced park staffing, so be safe out there.

We are excited that we can continue our expeditions into these treasured places, and hope that you will join us, especially with our recent wolf sightings! Seeing Grand Teton and Yellowstone draped in a blanket of snow is a sight you won’t forget. Contact our Wildlife Expeditions team at 307.733.2623 or info@wildlifeexpeditions.org.

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