National Park Visits During The Government Shutdown
The partial government shutdown is not ideal for anyone. However, we believe that it should not hold us back from campervan adventures. We here at Lost Campers are huge supporters of the National Parks Service. We want to encourage our customers to make sure that their National Park visits are planned with safety & environmental awareness in mind. Also, we want to point out some options for researching an alternative destination for your trip. Since many of the parks have little to no staffing, we hope that you will make an extra effort to look after these treasured lands if you choose to visit them at this time.
Planning a trip
The National Park Service website may not be updated until normal operations resume, but we encourage you to read up on the travel alerts that are currently posted in regards to the shutdown & road conditions. Even though some parks are accessible, this could change without notice. It is a good idea to have a backup plan. Check out State Parks as an alternative to visiting a National Park. Here are some useful links for Utah and California to help you research other options.
Safety & Emergency Services
If you feel that you must visit a National Park during the shutdown, remember to journey there with a high level of caution and mindfulness. Self-sufficiency is a must and you are traveling to these areas at your own risk. Staffing and resources are very limited for more than general park management services. When it comes to emergency situations there is limited aid available within the parks at this time. Many emergency services are sourced from outside of the parks so response times may take longer. People who are experiencing an emergency should call 911. Backcountry permits are not being provided right now. Please do not travel into restricted areas of the parks. This is not only for the preservation of the public lands but for your own safety. Please be smart about your visit and be diligent about planning wisely.
Camping Etiquette & Consideration
We here at Lost Campers are huge advocates for respect and preservation of the public lands. Please be aware and mindful during your travels. Remember: You pack it in, you pack it out! Don’t be that a$%&^!e human who ruins nature for everyone else. Every visitor leaves a footprint and this impacts the environment and its inhabitants. Please be self-sufficient & self-aware. Make your Mother proud and clean up after yourself!
Please follow local laws and park rules. Be courteous to all park staff that you may come across. They are there out of sheer dedication right now & are not being paid for their hard work. There are some amazing people doing voluntary clean up in the parks right now. We encourage all visitors to consider dedicating a day or a few hours to help out with these efforts. Get involved, every little bit helps!
General information for some popular National Parks in California & Utah that might still be accessible to the public:
- Yosemite is open for park entrance and there are some concessions available. Parts of the park are closed and there are road closures due to winter conditions. Visitor services such as trash removal and restroom maintenance are not available. Limited camping is still available in open and designated campgrounds. Camping or sleeping in a vehicle outside of open campgrounds is prohibited.
- Joshua Tree is open for day use only. The Campgrounds are closed but you can arrange camping outside of the park. There are no NPS services available.
- Death Valley is partially open. The Furnace Creek Visitor Center is open. The Oasis at Death Valley, Stovepipe Wells, & Panamint Springs are open. Recreate at your own risk. **UPDATE*** Furnace Creek & Texas Springs Campgrounds have been closed as of Jan. 4th due to health & safety concerns.
- The Redwoods is open, however, there are no NPS visitor services available. Travel with caution as dangerous conditions may exist. There are State Park campgrounds nearby in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
- Zion is open, the visitors center is scheduled to close Jan. 5th. One loop at the Watchman Campground is currently open, this could change so be sure to do your homework. Shuttles into the park have been closed for the winter season.
- Bryce Canyon is open and much of the park is accessible. Most services are currently available.
- Arches is currently closed. The has been no snow removal available. There are some great BLM and State Park options nearby.
- Capitol Reef is partially open. The Fruita campground will be open, restrooms will be closed except for the vault toilet. The scenic drive will be closed.
We hope this helps with your planning & brings you some awareness. Remember that it is not the end of the world if you cannot camp in a National Park right now. There are some amazing State Parks that offer fantastic recreation options. Many State Park options may work well for camping outside of the National Parks but are still close enough to allow you to venture into the parks for day use and some reasonable exploration.
From all of us here at Lost Campers, we wish you happy travels!