Government shutdown not stopping visits to Death Valley

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(December 27, 2018) — While the government shutdown has affected visitor services in America’s National Parks, tourists bent on visiting Death Valley National Park don’t seem to care as visitation has been robust since the shutdown.

Part of the reason could be that lodgings in the park are privately operated and remain open in full operation. And most roads and hiking areas in Death Valley National Park remain accessible to the public.


Traffic was busy last Sunday at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunesk/NPS

But if you visit Death Valley during the government shutdown, be careful: emergency and rescue services are limited. Two areas in the park, Salt Creek and Natural Bridge, have been closed for resource protection.

Due to the lapse in federal appropriations, the National Park Service is not providing visitor services such as trash collection, restrooms, facility maintenance or public information. Visitors are advised to use extreme caution when entering the park and to take trash with them to help keep the park clean.

The winter holidays are one of the busiest times in Death Valley. Parking lots at popular destinations such as Zabriskie Point, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and Badwater are overflowing with cars and RVs. By the end of Sunday, two days into the shutdown, piles of trash surrounded trash cans.

Visitors in NPS-operated campgrounds are not being asked to leave unless safety concerns require such action. Visitors with campground reservations should be aware there is no guarantee their reserved campsite will be ready and available should they arrive during a government shutdown.

RVs almost never have a problem obtaining a campsite at Furnace Creek’s Sunset [RV-only] Campground, although the nearby, smaller, more desirable Furnace Creek Campground often fills during the winter season.

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Billy Bob Thorton

It’s just another paid vacation for federal workers, stop kidding yourselves. What is really cool this time is the powers to be are making the impact as minimal as possible, and doing a fine job I might add. Use the NPS, be respectful. Smithsonian is still open this week, to make sure those who planned their Christmas vacation with the kiddies to see history, can still do so. This is how not to try and punish the taxpayers. Those who remember the past administration, setting up barracades to keep out visiting veterans should take note on how the two different approaches unfold.

I see hope for our future. More oil and Nat gas than Saudis Arabia. Finally clearing NFS lands of debris, that greatly contributed to burning countless thousands of homes. Increasing the allowed harvested board foot lumber from National Forests. This ship is sailing strong.

So boys and girls, pull up to the pumps, fill up on cheaper fuel, and get out and see the good ole US of A.

Jeff

You will see all over America the fact that the Temporary Shut down of the government really does NOT affect that many people and is proving the point that we DON’T need all these federal agencies or workers to run this country.

I am a retired Federal Worker, but I was an Air Traffic Controller for 22 years and obviously my skills were sorely needed and still are.

However, the majority of this country can operate just fine for many months.

So, get out and enjoy this great country.

Tommy Molnar

If we go to Death Valley, we always stay at the Firnace Creek area. It reminds us of huge drive-in theaters of yore. It’s totally boondocking. We don’t use the restrooms, so that’s no big deal. We don’t use their water either. The ‘shutdown’ means nothing to us.