Shutdown Status: States Pay To Reopen Some National Parks

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.

Best Way to Spend a Weekend at the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon astonishes even the most seasoned travelers, but a visit here offers far more than a jaw-dropping view across a 6000-foot-deep, vermilion-streaked chasm. Park staffers point out that a significant number of visitors simply drive into the park, walk up to the canyon rim, snap a few photos and speed away. Don’t be that tourist. Give yourself 48 hours, and you’ll have the opportunity to examine fascinating exhibits on the region’s impressive human and natural history, embark on a light (or strenuous) hike and feast on local elk and trout in a grand dining room perched on the canyon’s rim. So grab your camera (and at least a 16-gig memory card) and spend some time getting to know the country’s second-most-visited national park.

See the full itinerary on MapQuest Discover>>

Photo Of The Day: The Hills In Arizona

Just outside of Prescott, Arizona is Williamson Valley, a quite desolate area where it’s quite easy to find yourself come across a herd of buffalo, within the limits of their farm of course. This hillside sunrise, seen through immaculately kept trees, is in great company amongst Arizona’s other phenomenal natural wonders. Michael Wilson, a Prescott resident, took this stunning photo and has plenty more on his website. While summer in Arizona is not likely to be most people’s ideal destination, its beautiful landscapes like these that draw many of us into the desert.

If you have a great travel photo submit it to our Gadling Flickr Pool and it may be selected as our Photo of the Day.

#OnTheRoad: Gadling Instagram From Sedona

Goodness gracious, it’s hot here. So hot we’re seeing “dangerous heat” warnings throughout the Western United States and I’m wondering why I’ve chosen to visit the desert in late June.

My name is McLean Robbins and this weekend I’ve transplanted myself from my usual city of Washington, D.C., for a long weekend in Sedona, Arizona. That’s Chimney Rock, at left, on this morning’s hike up Brin’s Mesa. I’m taking you along for the ride on Instagram, where you’ll see all that the famed Southwest has to offer. From early morning hikes to explorations of some of the area’s best luxury spas (you know I had to fit a massage in there somewhere), you’ll see some of the area’s best sights.

Follow along on Gadling’s Instagram account, @GadlingTravel and #ontheroad, as I discover the best of Red Rocks country through late Sunday evening.

This is my first extended stay in Arizona, so any suggestions of places to visit, must-eat foods or travel tips are warmly welcomed!

Mexican Park Offers Fake Border Crossing Attraction

From sewer tours in France to “ghetto tours” in New York, there’s no shortage of strange excursions out there. An amusement park in Mexico, however, may have the most unusual outing yet: Parque EcoAlberto is bringing in tourist dollars – and teaching Mexican youth a lesson – by simulating the experience of fleeing across the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to PBS, the nighttime-only attraction aims to dissuade immigration by teaching Mexican citizens that attempting to cross the border is no walk in the park. For three hours, events unfold as realistically as possible, with masked guides shouting for participants to “get Moving” and a fake border patrol chasing them with flashlights and dogs.

The park, which also has hot springs and offers ziplining, is about 800 miles from the real U.S.-Mexico border in part of the indigenous HñaHñu community. According to the news outlet, the community has lost about 80 percent of its population to the U.S., mainly to Arizona and Nevada.

“We try to help people so that they won’t leave,” a park employee who acts as a “coyote,” or person paid to smuggle people across the border, tells PBS. “It’s time to create some employment, to work with our own and regenerate everything, or at least what we can, even though it might be slow going.”