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National parks closed due to government shutdown

The lapse in federal funding prompted Crater Lake to close its visitor’s center and cancel its ranger-guided snowshoe trips while Mount Rainier closed its road to Paradise, a popular winter recreation destination.

The snowy wonderland of Crater Lake and Mount Rainier national parks will be limited due to the government shutdown.

The lapse in federal funding prompted Crater Lake managers to close the visitor’s center, cancel ranger-guided snowshoe trips and close the road to the lake's rim. 

Mount Rainier closed its road to Paradise, a popular winter recreation destination. 

Both places remain technically open but, as with most national parks and monuments, there will be almost no services, including search and rescue. 

The federal government shutdown will impact the over 400 national parks and monuments. In Oregon, that includes John Day Fossil Beds and Oregon Caves national monuments, in addition to Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. 

RELATED: Crater Lake National Park offers ranger-guided snowshoe walks

Crater Lake

Due to human health and safety hazards, Crater Lake National Park has been closed to vehicles at Highway 62, park officials said.

Visitors may snowshoe, ski, or walk the approximately 7 miles each way from Highway 62 to the rim, but must stay off the plowed roads as they are still being used for emergency access, park officials said.

There will be no restrooms, visitor information, or backcountry permits available. Emergency services and road maintenance such as snow plowing and sanding are limited.

"If you get in trouble, it could be a long wait," Crater Lake superintendent Craig Ackerman said.

Fort Vancouver

Signs are posted at this National Historic Site letting visitors know about the shutdown. The fort, visitor center and the Pearson Air Museum are all closed.

People can walk around the property, but there is no one around to answer questions. Bathrooms are also closed and trash won’t be collected.

Credit: Art Edwards
A sign posted at Fort Vancouver.

Other parks around the PNW

“For most parks, there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance,” said a note posted on most national park and monument websites.

At Mount Rainier, a message said “To the extent possible, vehicle access will continue to be provided from the Nisqually entrance to Longmire, but not to Paradise. Entry during the federal shutdown is at visitors’ sole risk.”

Just south of the Oregon and California state line, the Redwood National and State Park system said "some national park areas within Redwood National and State Parks are accessible; however access may change without notice, and there are no NPS-provided services." 

What appears most likely — and has happened in the past — is that national park buildings, exhibits and visitor’s centers will be closed while assets such as trails could remain open to access. 

Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for 11 years. He is the author of the book “Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon” and “Hiking Southern Oregon.” He can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.