With the House Republicans and virtually everyone else in government refusing to play nice, it appears the U.S. might be headed toward another costly shutdown. How might this affect the travel industry?
First, if you’re planning to visit Yosemite or any other national park, start making other vacation plans. A government shutdown means all national parks, government-owned museums like the Smithsonian and other attractions will be closed. All employees considered non-essential –- which, if you’ve ever spent any time with a Park Ranger, you know that’s a complete lie -– will be furloughed and not paid during any shutdown.
This is a massive blow to not only travelers, but the folks whose livelihoods depend on those travelers, like the diner waitresses near the National Zoo or the hotel owners throughout Acadia National Park. According to the Christian Science Monitor, during the 26-day government shutdown in 1995 and 1996, the closure of those sites meant a net loss of 9 million visitors and untold millions in lost revenue to the surrounding communities.
While passport workers will likely remain on duty, expect rampant delays. During the last shutdown, more than 200,000 passport applications went unprocessed. Tens of thousands of entry visas for foreign travel also went unprocessed each day.
Air-traffic controllers and Homeland Security personnel should remain on the job, but it’s not known if a potential shutdown will affect their jobs in other ways.
Colorado has their most destructive wildfire on record this season, while a massive California blaze is currently threatening Yosemite National Park. Several of Montana‘s most scenic highways were closed this week due to fire conditions, rerouting many travelers and affecting local businesses. Other recent blazes have plagued Idaho, including the popular Sun Valley resort, and Utah. Travelers hoping to visit one of the many excellent national and state parks out west this summer can keep track of current wildfire conditions and closures with a Google Map.
Google’s Crisis Response project provides critical information to the public during a disaster. The wildfires map is regularly updated with info from the US Geological Survey and InciWeb, as well as local resources and shelter information. If you are traveling to an affected area, be sure to check the map as well check for park alerts.
Now that summer is officially here, the National Park Foundation is opening up its Summer Scrapbook and they’re asking us to help them fill it. The NPF is inviting the public to share their favorite photos, videos and travel tips from America’s national parks and in exchange, they’re giving us a chance to win one of two trips to two of the country’s most iconic national parks.
The contest is a simple one. All you need to do is visit the Summer Scrapbook page and share your photos in one of several categories that includes such subjects as sunrise/sunset, wildlife, history and culture and more. There is also a category for short videos and one for posting helpful tips for visiting the parks. You can enter as many as ten items between now and Sept. 8 with each entry increasing your chance to win. On Sept. 10, the Park Foundation will announce ten finalist in each category and the general public will be asked to vote for their favorites. Voting closes on Sept. 30 and everyone who casts a vote will be automatically entered to win a trip through the Grand Canyon by train.
The person who wins the overall popular vote for the best photo, video or travel tip will also win a trip to Yosemite National Park, one of the most spectacular destinations in the entire U.S. park system. Meanwhile, the individual winners of each of the categories will also receive a National Park Explorer Pack that includes outdoor gear from L.L. Bean and Marmot, as well as gifts from the National Park Foundation and several of the parks themselves.
So, if you’ve got some great park photos in your collection, add them to the Scrapbook and see if you can’t win a trip to make even more great national park memories.
Remember when we were kids and summer camp meant hiking in Yosemite, whitewater rafting and camping under the stars? Yeah, me neither! My summer camp wasn’t nearly half as cool as that! Those are exactly the kinds of activities that Mammoth Mountain will offer kids this summer at their annual Mammoth Kids Summer Camp, however, providing six days filled with fun and adventure that will make them the envy of all their friends.
Mammoth will offer two sessions of their summer camp this year, the first running July 7-12 and the other running July 28 – August 2. Participants are broken down into two age groups, 8-12 and 13-16 allowing all campers to interact with kids their own age and form lasting friendships. Over the course of the six days, they’ll go hiking and rafting in nearby Yosemite National Park, learn how to fly-fish and take an excursion into the mountains on horseback that includes overnight camping. Other activities include mountain biking on Mammoth’s beginner trails, rock climbing on the climbing wall and stand-up paddleboarding on June Lake. What more could a budding adventurer ask for?
For more details on this great kid-centric opportunity click here.
And while parents aren’t allowed at summer camp, that doesn’t mean Mammoth doesn’t have plenty to offer them as well. Many of the same activities are available for those who stay at the lodge, including full access to the mountain bike trails, fly-fishing spots, golf course and hiking paths. So while your little one is off on his or her own adventure, you can mix in a little of your own. Parents staying at Mammoth while their kids are in summer camp can receive up to a 20 percent discount on lodging, as well as some great deals on other activities as well.
Who says summer camp is just for the kids?
Just past the eastern terminus of the Tioga Pass, the entryway to Yosemite National Park, is the quietly beautiful Mono Lake. The area is unique due to its salinity and eerie tufa rock formations that jut out from the water, which give it a completely unreal appearance. Flickr user Pacheco took this amazing photo of the moonrise after a two-day mission to get the perfect Mono lake photo. He absolutely succeeded.
The surrounding area is fantastic as well because it has these little roads that stretch on into the mountains that are perfect to drive on and are often empty of anyone else. California is not often associated with its mountainous landscapes, but in large part thanks to it huge size, it has some of the best natural beauty in the United States.
If you have a great travel photo, be sure to submit it to us via our Gadling Flickr Pool and it may be featured as our Photo of the Day.