We just returned to our office after the holidays here at The Dyrt. Sadly, most government workers have yet to return to theirs—including employees of national parks across the country. The recent government shutdown has closed national park visitor centers, left entrances unstaffed, and eliminated services such as trash pick-up and search and rescue, despite parks remaining open to visitors.

The combination of holiday crowds and minimal staff has created a perfect storm of irresponsible camping behavior and unsanitary conditions. Toilets are overflowing at Joshua Tree (campgrounds there are now closed there due to health concerns), litter is gathering in Yosemite, and visitors are venturing off roads and trails, causing serious damage to delicate ecosystems in Death Valley, among other parks.

We never thought we’d have a reason to say this, but we urge you to NOT go camping at national parks during the government shutdown.

Even responsible campers and hikers practicing leave no trace principles can overwhelm the parks at this time. Unless you are volunteering to help keep up with current challenges, we encourage you to wait until park employees are back to work and park services fully resume.


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If you do go camping in a national park during the shutdown, bring a trash bag and your own toilet paper, and do your part to help out in the absence of employees.

Below we’ve gathered updates from some popular parks, but it is important to note that most updates were released shortly after the government shutdown and national park websites have not been updated since, so information may be inaccurate:

National Park Closures and Updates During the Shutdown

Acadia National Park

Badlands National Park

Carlsbad Caverns

Channel Islands National Park

Death Valley National Park

  • The Oasis at Death Valley, Stovepipe Wells Resort, and Panamint Springs are fully open
  • Salt Creek and Natural Bridge are closed
  • Crowds and trash have already become a serious problem
  • More information from Death Valley

Gettysburg National Military Park

Joshua Tree National Park

  • Park is open but all campgrounds closed on January 2 at noon, due to unsanitary conditions
  • Lost Horse Mine Road is closed due to illegal activity
  • Rattlesnake Canyon is closed
  • More information from Joshua Tree

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Olympic National Park

Redwood National Park

Valley Forge National Historic Park

Yosemite National Park

  • Most of the park is open, other than the following areas: Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Hetch Hetchy, Wawona and Hodgdon Meadow Campgrounds
  • Concessions are available
  • Only visitors with reservations can enter from the south entrance
  • More information from Yosemite

Zion National Park

  • Limited visitor services
  • Roads, lookouts, and trails around Kolob Canyon are closed
  • Existing backcountry permits will be acknowledged, but no new permits will be offered. Visitors should not venture into backcountry areas without a permit.
  • More information from Zion

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