Campgrounds: open. Trails: open. Visitor centers: open. National parks: open. Hurrah.
The 11th-hour budget agreement hammered out late Friday night by Congress means national parks, national forests. Bureau of Land Management areas and other federally managed lands are open for visitation and recreation.
As a result, campers will not be uprooted from their campsites, which would have occurred had a government shutdown occurred. Hikers will not risk getting a citation for walking on a trail. Visitors from other countries will not find locked gates or barricades at the entrances to national parks. Instead, it’s fresh air for everybody. Good news.
Rain, clouds and cool temperatures at Saguaro National Park outside Tucson on Saturday kept crowds lower than usual. Grand Canyon warned visitors to bring chains for their tires if they wanted to visit the snowy South Rim. Cloudy skies blanketed parks in the Northwest. “We’re just happy the park is open,” a visitor center rep at Saguaro told me Saturday morning. That makes two of us.
Despite a low rain year in the Desert Southwest, saguaro cacti should begin blooming in the next week or two. Wildflowers have or soon will be emerging at Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. Yosemite, following a winter of heavy snow that has set accumulation records in several parts of the Sierra, is set up for an impressive waterfall season. National Park Week, with free admission to every unit in the National Park System, will occur as scheduled April 16-24.
It’s nice to able to pass along good news. Enjoy, everybody.
Photo below: A view of Yosemite Valley I snapped from the east end of the Wawona Tunnel (aka Tunnel View) in May 2008 with Bridalveil Fall flowing at a high volume following a winter that deposited a moderately heavy snowpack. The photo above takes a closer look at Bridalveil Fall. Expect waterfalls to flow with equally impressive volumes this spring.