In wake of the government shutdown leaves many of our National Parks without human resources to oversee operations. While some, like Arizona's Grand Canyon, is still operating many are left without rangers or staff. Joshua Tree National Park remains open which is in contrast to past shutdowns. I remember back in the Clinton years while rock climbing and camping in the Park the Rangers actually drove around, kicking everyone out. I was in that group who was forced to leave my beloved Park prematurely. Most recently the shutdown of 2013 resulted in locked gates and no access.
Currently, citizens and visitors of Joshua Tree National Park are able to access the Park, drive in and continue to explore. But be forewarned, there is only essential staff monitoring the Park. The kiosks, visitor centers, and other resources are closed. Vault potties will be unlocked but without services for cleaning and restocking.
I'm thrilled that we are able to still access our public lands during the shutdown but feel it's important to remind folks to be good stewards. Be mindful that there is no daily maid service! Please pick up your garbage, do not overflow trash bins, we ask that you remain on trails, off of private lands and/or ranger-led areas and follow dog restrictions just as you were being watched. For those scrambling, rock climbing or hiking, please be mindful of where you are, be prepared for weather and emergencies and aware that a rescue may be compromised.
It's important to note that with this shutdown perhaps we will not have the same negative effects on our local economy. Restaurants, guide services, shops and even vacation home rental owners value our guests and appreciate the monies visitors spend in our communities.
It's unknown how long this shut-down will last but ask that all visitors be careful! Also, let us do our best to ease the pain of furloughed employees by caring for our public lands during their absence.