Utah’s national parks to remain open during government shutdown

The State of Utah is once again stepping in to minimize disruption to travelers visiting Utah’s national parks during a federal government shutdown.

When and if the federal government shuts down, the state will provide support to keep frontline visitor services open through the holidays at Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks.  

“We take great pride in our hospitality and want visitors who come to Utah’s Mighty Five national parks during the Christmas holiday to have a safe, clean and enjoyable experience,” said Governor Gary R. Herbert. “Many travelers have planned their visit for months in advance and have traveled from all over the world to be here. We want them to return home with memories of magnificent vistas and welcoming people, not locked doors.”

Per updated federal guidelines for government shutdowns, national parks and other public lands remain open to visitors, though National Park Service cautions visitors that all park activities are suspended “except for those that are essential to respond to emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”  

Under the leadership of Gov. Herbert, the Utah Office of Tourism and the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, the state of Utah has opted to go beyond maintaining basic access by working with the national parks to underwrite the costs of staffing visitor centers and maintaining custodial services at Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks.

“Our marketing inspires people about Utah’s amazing red rock destinations. We want to ensure that their experience matches or exceeds their expectations,” said Vicki Varela, managing director, Utah Office of Tourism.

“This is the third time this year we have experienced a shutdown. While the federal government faces another impasse, the State of Utah and Utah’s Federal Land Managers are committed to safe, high-quality access for all visitors to America’s public lands,” said Tom Adams, Director of Utah’s Office of Outdoor Recreation.

The Utah Office of Tourism is providing visitors with updated park information and ramping up customer service on its website, visitutah.com. Visitor questions will be answered via live chat.

All of Utah’s 14 ski resorts, including those operating on US Forest Service lands will remain open with no disruptions due to the shutdown and all of Utah’s 44 state parks are fully staffed and open for visitation.

“Small businesses form the backbone of Utah’s tourism economy and they suffered significant losses during the 16-day federal government shutdown of 2013,” said Varela. “Maintaining high quality services in our most-visited parks during this busy travel holiday, will help keep these business whole through the winter.”  

Economists estimate the 2013 shutdown cost Utah’s tourism economy $30 million despite Utah being the first state to open their national parks during the shutdown.