Government shutdown blamed for 3% drop in national park visitors in 2013

U.S. park ranger Heidi Schlichting informs visitors in of the closure of Yosemite National Park due to the government shutdown in October 2013.
(Craig Kohlruss / AP)
<i>This post has been updated, as indicated below.</i>

The government shutdown in October was largely to blame for a 3% drop in visitors to America’s national parks in 2013, according to a report released Monday by the National Park Service.

The country’s 401 parks, historic sites and recreation areas drew 273.6 million visitors in 2013, about 9 million fewer than the previous year, according to the report.

The 16-day government shutdown, sparked by a budget dispute in Washington, was responsible for reducing the visitation numbers by about 7.9 million visitors, the report said.


The communities near the parks lost about $414 million in visitors spending because of the government shutdown, according to an earlier economic impact report said.

“These closures had a real impact on local businesses and communities that rely on the national parks as important drivers for their local economies,” said National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

Some parks lost visitors because of bad weather, including Blue Ridge Parkway, where visitor numbers fell by 2.5 million due partly to storm damage and cold and wet conditions last year, according to the National Parks Service. The lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy also forced the closures of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Castle Clinton for part of the year.

[For the record, 3 p.m. PDT March 10: An earlier version said the government shutdown reduced the number of park visitors by 5 million in 2013. The National Park Service said the shutdown actually turned away 7.9 million visitors.]


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