The Government is Back Up and Running, and So Are the National Parks

Grand Canyon National Park, Flickr

Everyone rejoice: now that the shutdown is finally over, government employees can get back to work and the rest of us can go out and explore any National Park that we feel like. No sneaking around with the risk of getting fined, you can now travel as you wish.

While some National Parks found ways to open back up during the shutdown, thanks to a handful of states that opted to pay the federal government to keep their parks functioning, today the 400 some National Parks will open back up as the furlough for the 20,000 park employees ends.Beyond National Parks, monuments and memorials managed by the National Park Service will also open back up.

But you know what all this means? After over two weeks of shutdown, you may expect lines and plenty of tourists in the places you have been wanting to visit. But hey, at least they’re open.

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.

Statue Of Liberty Reopens For First Time Since Hurricane Sandy

Statue of LIberty in New York Harbor
Public Domain

One of the most iconic symbols of American freedom is set to reopen just in time to celebrate the nation’s birthday. The Statue of Liberty, which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy on October 29 of last year, will welcome visitors for the first time since that day with the arrival of a morning ferry at 8:45 a.m.

When Sandy made landfall in New York City last fall, the storm surge hit Liberty Island. While the statue itself weathered the storm quite nicely, its surrounding support structures were not so lucky. Docks leading to the island were severely damaged, as were the electrical and phone systems. Several of the walkways had to be repaired and the entire site was littered with debris. Fortunately, none of the historical areas were affected by the storm, which made it easier to conduct repairs.

In the aftermath of the storm both Liberty Island and Ellis Island closed to visitors. After both sites were assessed for damage the repair crews set a goal of having the Statue of Liberty reopened by the Fourth of July. They were able to achieve that goal, although Ellis Island remains closed.

The National Park Service says pre-sales for the reopening have been brisk, so visitors should expect large crowds and delays.

Welcome back Lady Liberty. We’re glad you could make the celebration.

Scientists Preserve Cannons That Started The Civil War

Civil War
National Park Service

Historic cannons from Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, that date to the Civil War have been meticulously conserved and returned to the fort, the National Park Service announced. Some of these big guns, weighing up to 15,000 pounds each, were used to fire on Fort Sumter just across Charleston Harbor. It was this attack on a federal fort that was the official start of the Civil War.

Scientists removed several layers of old paint from the 17 cannons and applied a coat of epoxy to protect them from rust. They also applied a durable coat of fresh paint. The cannons are exposed to the elements as well as salty, humid sea air, so choosing the right coating can make the difference between an evocative, educational exhibit and a rusting heap of trash.

Fort Moultrie is part of the Fort Sumter National Monument and has the world’s largest collection of American seacoast artillery from the 19th century. Last year a team of conservators visited Fort Sumter and treated several artillery shells from these cannons, many of which have been stuck in the fort’s walls since the day they were fired.

Civil War
Billy Hathorn One of the cannons prior to conservation.

Video: 100 Years Of Climbing Mt. McKinley

Climbing Mt. McKinley in 1913
Project Gutenberg

Standing 20,320 feet in height, Mt. McKinley is the tallest mountain in North America and one of the most challenging climbs in the entire world. While it doesn’t rival the big Himalayan peaks in terms of altitude, it more than makes up for it with a number of technical climbing challenges and notoriously fickle weather that can even be bad during the peak climbing season of May and June.

Last week marked the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of McKinley, which is generally referred to by its native Koyukon name of Denali in mountaineering circles. On June 7, 1913, Walter Harper, Harry Karstens, Hudson Stuck and Robert Tatum became the first men to stand on the summit of this imposing peak. A century later the route to the top remains nearly as elusive as it was when they first made the journey.

To celebrate this impressive milestone, the National Park Service released the following video that not only commemorates the accomplishment of the first ascent but also attempts to answer the age old question of why we climb. It is an inspiring and thought provoking short film, to say the least.