Shutdown Status: States Pay To Reopen Some National Parks

Government shutdown national parks
Flickr, David Yu

We’re going on two weeks of government shutdown, with tourists hoping to see national parks having to sneak in or go home. Thousands of park workers have been furloughed and local businesses who generate income from tourism are feeling the pinch. Several U.S. states are taking matters into their own hands, effectively paying the federal government so that they can reopen.

The status as of today:

Arizona: It’s costing $651,000 to open the Grand Canyon for a week, though no money is allotted past that time and some local businesses worry it won’t help them in the long run.

Colorado: Over 10,000 visitors went out the Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend after the state reached an agreement to pay over $40,000 per day to keep it open.

New York: The Statue of Liberty re-opened yesterday, costing New York $61,000 per day out of its tourism budget — but visitors generate an estimated $350,000 daily.

South Dakota: Mount Rushmore will cost over $15,000 a day to reopen, with corporate donors helping the state open the park again today.

Utah: 8 attractions will reopen today, including Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, at a cost of $166,000 per day.

See the status of all the national parks here.

Utah To Reopen National Parks By The Weekend

Bryce Canyon National Park Utah
James Gordon, Flickr

There’s finally a bit of good news for travelers impacted by the Federal Government shutdown with the announcement that Utah will reopen five of its national parks despite the ongoing closures around the country.

Utah made a deal with the government to pay to keep its parks open. The state will cough up more than $166,000 a day for up to 10 days for the privilege, with the money going to the National Park Service.

In total, eight Utah attractions will reopen to visitors. This includes five national parks, namely Bryce Canyon, Zion, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands National Park. In addition, the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, as well as the Cedar Breaks and Natural Bridges national monuments will once again welcome tourists.As we’ve mentioned before, the shutdown hasn’t stopped some visitors from sneaking into the parks, with a number of tourists caught jumping the fences as Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks. The reopening of the parks will ensure that visitors are able to get inside and that they pay to do so – a key factor behind the state’s decision to go against the shutdown.

Utah’s Governor says the state’s national parks are fundamental to the local economy and the closures had come at a particularly bad time. Good weather tends to draw large crowds in October, meaning the parks usually earn about $100 million during this month alone.

Utah’s national parks will reopen by Saturday.

Shutdown Won’t Stop Travel: Tourists Are Sneaking Into Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks

Stuart Seeger, Flickr

Not allowed to go where you want to on account of the government shutdown? That doesn’t pose a problem for some. Because hey, if you’ve traveled far to see a certain landmark, you’re going to do everything in your power to see it. Or at least that is the thought pattern of the people who have been sneaking into Grand Canyon National Park recently. May we remind you that such behavior is in fact illegal.

Nearly two dozen people have been issued citations for entering the park; you see the government and the National Parks can get shut down, but someone will still be employed to get you in trouble when you make an attempt at entering.Some of the people that snuck in were even attempting rim-to-rim hikes, obviously dangerous if there aren’t any rangers to go to if you find yourself in a questionable situation.

The Grand Canyon isn’t the only place people have been trespassing. In Zion National Park in Utah, 16 hikers jumped the fence in protest of the shutdown. And then there are the people that unwillingly break the rules, like the runner who says he was fined $100 for working out on a trail in Valley Forge National Historic Park. He had parked his car in a parking lot where there was no barrier or sign, but was fined anyway.

As for Grand Canyon National Park? Law enforcement officers are patrolling the area on the lookout for more trespassers. Consider yourself warned.

St. Louis Zoo To Open Animal-Themed Hotel

St Louis zoo hotel penguins
Flickr, Jorge Rodrigo Gonzalez

The St. Louis Zoo has some major expansion plans in store for the next several decades, including an open savannah, a gondola crossing the park, a formal restaurant and a boutique hotel. The Missouri zoo will be making big changes to their existing park and developing a new site, bringing the total campus to over 100 acres, and creating new animal habitats and attractions. Don’t get ready to book yet, the full strategic plan is not due until the end of 2014, and construction could still be well into the future.

Where else can you overnight with animals, even if you don’t have kids?
Cincinnati Zoo has several after-hours options for families and kids, such as family camping outside the giraffe exhibit or inside the manatees building. You can even travel with the zoo on an African safari to Kenya.

Cleveland Zoo has a variety of fun overnight programs for children, but the adults have the option of a cash bar and make-your-own s’mores in the summer months. Costs are $90 to $300, depending on tent size.

The Houston Zoo Wild Winks program is primarily for children, but private events can be arranged. Want to sleep without the fishes? On November 1, adults can attend the annual Feast with the Beasts fundraiser event with 80 local restaurants providing food and drinks, animal appearances, and a performance by Smash Mouth. The zoo also hosts trips to Yellowstone, Alaska and Kenya.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park regularly offers “roar and snore” overnight camping excursions for children and families, and an “adults-only” option where you can learn animal facts for mature audiences only. Tickets range from $140-$264 per person, depending on age, membership, and tent size.

The Washington National Zoo hosts adults only for summer snore & roars including wine and cheese and an after-hours tour. Families and kids can choose their favorite animal or regional tour, from Amazonia to chimpanzees, but eat before you arrive, dinner is not on the menu.

9 Year-Old Skips Through Airport Security, Flies To Vegas

airport security
Flickr/ ampmouse1

It’s supposed to be impossible. Armed guards are in place to prevent it from happening. Three levels of airport security were breached, and airline and TSA officials have no idea how he did it. That’s the situation at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport (MSP) as a 9-year-old was able to get past all that then fly to Las Vegas on his own, without a ticket.

“At this point, this is a Delta and TSA issue,” said airport spokesperson Pat Hogan in a KARE11 tv report. “This is a rare incident.” Rare it may be, but the boy made it on to Delta flight 1651 and was not discovered until the plane landed in Las Vegas.

Both Delta and the TSA are investigating the incident and the 9-year-old stowaway, also believed to be a runaway. Getting past the TSA security screening as well as Delta’s gate agents and the flight crew on the aircraft was simply all in a day’s work for the boy. MSP airport officials report that he also took someone’s luggage off a carousel, ordered food at a restaurant before going through security and even asked his server to watch his luggage while he used the restroom. He never returned.Sound familiar? You might be thinking of the incident not long ago when a man posing as a pilot made it into the cockpit on a US Airways flight.