Skift Take

U.S. National Parks — one of America's most vital attractions — would become unavailable to millions of tourists and locals.

Most U.S. National Parks will shut down their operations if U.S. lawmakers don’t reach a deal to fund the federal government by Saturday night, the Department of Interior said Friday in a press release.

“At [National Parks System] sites across the country, gates will be locked, visitor centers will be closed, and thousands of park rangers will be furloughed,” said the Department of Interior. “Accordingly, the public will be encouraged not to visit sites during the period of lapse in appropriations out of consideration for protection of natural and cultural resources, as well as visitor safety.”

Services and facilities at national parks will be closed or largely unavailable during the shutdown. Sites like park roads, campgrounds and open-air memorials (like the National Mall) will remain accessible, but services like trash collection and sanitation maintenance won’t be guaranteed.

The National Park System is made up of hundreds of national parks, monuments and attractions. In 2022, nearly 312 million visitors spent $23.9 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park, supporting 378,400 jobs, according to the Department of Interior.

As of September 29, U.S. lawmakers haven’t come to an agreement of how to fund the U.S. government. Without an agreement, the travel industry could see a disruption to airport screening, customs and air traffic control processing operations.

Travel industry leaders expect a shutdown to occur. “Our expectation is there’s going to be a shutdown and there really isn’t going to be a light at the end of the tunnel of what’s going to resolve it,” said U.S. Travel Association CEO and President Geoff Freeman at Skift Global Forum 2023.

The Department of Interior said state and local governments can keep the parks open upon the National Parks Service Director’s approval. The state governments of Arizona and Utah said they plan to keep their iconic parks like Grand Canyon and Zion open, reported AP.

In the 34-day partial government shutdown between late 2018 and 2019, New York State, to keep the Statue of Liberty running, paid its attraction’s workers to keep the site operating, said NYC Tourism and Conventions CEO and President Fred Dixon at Skift Global Forum 2023.


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: government shutdown, national parks, shutdown, tourism

Up Next

Loading next stories