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Cross that national park visit off your list, for now
The National Park Service has closed all 401 national parks, including Mount Rainier and Olympic, because of the shutdown of the federal government.
All visitor facilities, including Mount Rainier's Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, park hotels, and roads — except for State Route 410 and State Route 123, park thru-ways — are closed. The parks will remain closed until the government reopens.
National park visitors in all overnight facilities are being given until 6 p.m. on Oct. 3 to make travel arrangements and leave the park. In addition, all park programs or special events have been canceled.
Mount Rainier National Park hosts approximately 130,000 visitors on average in October; nationally, more than 715,000 visitors a day frequent the National Park System. The park will lose an estimated $2,000 in entrance fees each day of the shutdown, according to the National Park Service. Nationwide, the National Park Service stands to lose approximately $450,000 per day in lost revenue from fees collected at entry stations and fees paid for in-park activities such as cave tours, boat rides and camping.
Gateway communities across the country see about $76 million per day in total sales from visitor spending that is lost during a government shutdown. In 2011, more than one million visitors to Mount Rainier National Park spent $33 million in communities surrounding the park, according to the National Park Service.
In Mount Rainier National Park, 192 government employees are on furlough because of the shutdown. A total of 32 employees remain on duty, providing various services including security, facility protection and emergency services.
Nationwide, the shutdown has also furloughed more than 20,000 National Park Service employees; approximately 3,000 employees remain on duty to ensure essential health, safety, and security functions at parks and facilities. About 12,000 park concessions employees are also affected.
Because it will not be maintained, the National Park Service website will be down for the duration of the shutdown. NPS.gov has more than 750,000 page views and 91 million unique visitors each year.
For updates on the shutdown, go to www.doi.gov/shutdown.
Washington state parks remain open
Most park day-use areas and many campgrounds in the Washington state park system remain open, though specific areas within some parks have partial closures or limited access as winter gets under way. The State Parks winter schedule will be finalized and made available later this month so visitors can plan trips and continue to enjoy state parks.
Go to www.parks.wa.gov to learn about parks, trails and activities available to enjoy during the fall season.