How the US government shutdown affects tourism

It was Yosemite National Park’s 123rd anniversary on Tuesday, the 1st of October – Google even had a doodle to celebrate it  – but instead of marking this milestone the park was closed as part of the US government’s shutdown.

The mountains of Yosemite Double-Barrelled Travel

A little slice of Yosemite we got to see before the government shutdown

The US government shutdown affects tourism

All tourists inside the park were told to leave – anyone trying to enter was turned away.

What a bummer.

The mountains of Yosemite2 Double-Barrelled Travel

We were bummed we couldn’t see more sights like these in Yosemite

Entering Yosemite before the shutdown

The day before the shut down we were wriggling in our seats with excitement as we drove toward Yosemite, one of America’s most famous national parks.

We wanted to do as much hiking as our legs could handle and revel in the wilderness.

Despite listening avidly on the radio to the last minute wrangling between President Obama and the House Republicans it stupidly didn’t occur to us that a government shut down would mean the closure of National Parks.

We found a great camping spot and spent our first night in Yosemite looking at the brilliant stars and listening to the howling of coyotes.

We woke to a perfectly sunny day and drove out of the camp site in high spirits.

Then we saw a crestfallen park ranger stopping all the cars ahead of us.

Uh-oh.

Hiking amongst the redwoods Double-Barrelled Travel

We went hiking in the state parks instead

48 hours to leave

The ranger told us the government was shutdown and that the park was shut indefinitely.

If you had a reservation you could stay one more night but if you didn’t – and we didn’t – you had to leave immediately.

The roads were all still open but the ranger advised us not to stop; the rangers were all going home and the police were patrolling.

Sequoia tree trunk Double-Barrelled Travel

We discovered this large sequoia tree trunk outside of Yosemite in one of the neighbouring state parks

Reaction to the government shutdown

Carmen was outraged. I was shocked.

So was every other tourist we saw or met in the park.

People had planned family holidays and travelled from the other side of the globe or around the USA to be in Yosemite.

Now their plans were tossed aside by a political fight a few thousand miles away.

Yosemite was ravaged by a huge fire only a month ago but the park stayed open for that.

Now it’s closed because of politics.

A shot up sign in the USA Double-Barrelled Travel

After leaving Yosemite we got a little lost and discovered this shot up sign

Our plans have had to change

For us it means our plans to visit The Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion and Joshua Tree parks are very likely not going to happen.

It’s a shame because seeing those parks are why we chose to drive around the USA and we don’t have the time to go back if and when they open again.

Oh well, at least we have health insurance as we travel in America and will return eventually to Australia where universal health care is celebrated as a national achievement, not a national crisis.

So go Obama! The parks will be there for a long time; the chance to fight for something we consider good will not be there for long.

We hope all Americans can one day afford healthcare thanks to what Obama is doing today.

Trees reflecting on the lake Double-Barrelled Travel

The lake reflecting the trees in the state park

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About the author

Carmen and Dave are the pair behind Double-Barrelled Travel. They've been travel buddies since 2008 and were married in 2012. They chose Double-Barrelled Travel as the name for their blog because when they tied the knot they each took one another's name. In Australia, this is called a Double-Barrelled name.

9 comments on “How the US government shutdown affects tourism”

  1. Suzanne Fluhr (Boomeresque) Reply

    Aaaaargh! I am so sorry (and ashamed by proxy) that this happened during your visit to the United States. We were also affected as we were touring northern New Mexico last week, hoping to visit the Bandelier National Monument — a Native American pueblo and cliff dwellings. It’s too bad that instead of being able to visit our glorious national parks, you are getting a close up and personal introduction to our national politics. As you travel across the USA, it would be interesting if you were to do “man/woman in the street” interviews as you go from county to county. As you drive across what we sometimes refer to as “flyover country” (the sparsely populated huge middle of the US — sort of like Australia), you will find people with such disparate world views than those you might find in talking to city folk.

    • Carmen Allan-Petale Reply

      Yep, it’s been a bit of a pain in the butt but we’ve still managed to see a lot of the state parks which are nearly as good. The biggest bummer is that we spent a lot of money on an annual national parks pass and we haven’t been able to use it!
      Yes, we’ve already noticed how different people’s attitudes are depending on where we are. The more rural you go, the more conservative whereas the city folk seem to be a lot more liberal and more for Obamacare, etc.
      We met someone the other day who doesn’t believe Obama is American. I found that odd!

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