(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.
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.