Good news, travelers – you can now visit the Grand Canyon or stay at Wawona Hotel in Yosemite, despite the ongoing federal government shutdown. The shutdown has brought major losses to the travel industry and frustrations to travelers, primarily through the closure of national parks and other sites. But now the Department of Interior is allowing states to reopen them if they foot the bill themselves.
Various media are reporting that five states so far – Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Arizona and New York – have paid or agreed to pay to reopen at least some of their national parks. The Grand Canyon reopened on Saturday. The Statue of Liberty on Sunday.
Here’s a look at some of the costs: On Friday, four of Utah’s five national parks reopened to visitors after the governor sent $1.67 million to the federal government. An AP report quoted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as saying the state will pay $61,600 a day to pay park personnel and keep the Statue of Liberty open.
Wawona Hotel and Wawona General Store in Yosemite Park reopened as of Saturday. A statement on the Park’s website said, “hotels and restaurants that are located on through roads in national parks can reopen.”
While it’s not great news for the states, which may never recoup the costs, and it’s too late for many, this is all good news to travelers worried about their plans. But it’s also great news for shop and hotel owners either on these lands or who are nearby and rely on the Parks for their income.
Things are likely to be change rapidly, so always check the official websites of parks and hotels before making your travel plans.