Yosemite National Park: Happy birthday! Too bad you’re shut down

Google Doodle Yosemite
Tuesday’s Google Doodle marks the 123rd birthday of Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite National Park celebrated its 123rd birthday with a major nod from Google on Tuesday. From the federal government, not so much.

One of the most visible repercussions of the federal government shutdown -- the immediate closure of the country’s 401 national parks -- was made all the more obvious Tuesday with a Google Doodle that payed homage to Yosemite.

But starting Tuesday morning, visitors will find entrance gates closed and barricaded, visitor centers shuttered and their camping and hotel reservations canceled, park officials said. Yosemite, as well as the Statue of Liberty and Yellowstone, and will be off-limits to the public.

“Anyone who’s hoping to arrive, even for a day visit, would see gates closed and would be turned away,” said  Mike Litterst, chief spokesman for the National Park Service. “There won’t be any access.”


Lodges and cabins at Yosemite National Park would be filled to near capacity this  weekend, but will be closed by the shutdown.

DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, which operates more than 1,000 rooms inside the park, is working to notify thousands of guests of the shutdown. Visitors already staying there would have to leave within 48 hours and others would have to reschedule or opt for a refund, said spokeswoman Lisa Cesaro.

Visitors already staying at campgrounds or lodges within a national park when the closure takes effect will be given 48 hours to make other arrangements and leave.

That grace period might be tempting for some keen on two days of solitude among the redwoods, Rocky Mountains or Joshua trees, but officials cautioned they could find themselves with little to do.


While closing some national parks is a matter of shutting gates and shepherding visitors out, shutting down others could be a logistical nightmare.

It will not be easy to enforce a closure of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a patchwork of public land and 500 miles of trails in Los Angeles and Ventura counties that is managed by different federal, state and local agencies. Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders will be able to access some parks and preserves only to be blocked from others.

“We’re going to seal off federal lands as best we can,” said Kate Kuykendall, a spokeswoman for the recreation area. “We’re very porous,  and already there is confusion among the public about who owns what land. It will not be a seamless experience anymore.”

Like other federal agencies, in a shutdown the National Park Service activates a contingency plan to  furlough more than 21,000 employees, about 87% percent of its staff. That will leave just over 3,000 workers on the job, many of them law enforcement personnel who will stay behind to secure the parks and provide emergency services.

The park service estimates the shutdown will cost $450,000 a day in lost revenue from entrance, rental and campground fees. Communities near parks figure to lose more than $76 million a  day in visitor spending.


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Twitter: @tonybarboza

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