National parks reopen, some more quickly than others, after shutdown

Sunrise at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park.
(Paul Boorstin )

National parks started to return to regular operations, some more quickly than others, after the 35-day partial government shutdown ended.

Death Valley’s visitor center at Furnace Creek was open and staffed Monday. Rangers will resume leading free guided walks Saturday at the 3.4-million-acre park.

Three campgrounds were open Monday, and another two were scheduled to reopen Thursday. A few will remain closed indefinitely until water systems pass inspections.

The park never closed during the shutdown but some facilities and services did. The privately owned Oasis at Death Valley and Stovepipe Wells Resort, along with the Death Valley Natural History Assn., made donations to keep the visitor center and other operations going.


At Joshua Tree, campgrounds, which had been temporarily closed at one point during the shutdown and then reopened on a first-come, first-served basis, were again open for online reservations at

Yosemite’s visitor centers reopened but the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in the southern part of the park did not. Snow play areas also remained shut “as maintenance issues are addressed,” the park’s website said.

Yosemite had cut off access to the redwood grove because of human waste found along roadways from visitors who used the park during the shutdown.

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area reopened its visitor center as well as other areas of the park, including Paramount Ranch, Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, Cheeseboro/Palo Comado canyons, and the trail to the mountain range’s high point, Sandstone Peak. The rest of the area remained closed because of damage from the Woolsey fire in November.


Some parks Monday asked for patience from the public as they worked to resume operations.

Olympic National Park in Washington state, for example, opened its visitor center in Port Angeles on Sunday but the popular Hurricane Ridge Road wasn’t expected to reopen until Friday.

“There is a lot of storm debris, downed tree removal, and safety checks that must be completed,” the park’s website said.

The historic cemetery at Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi remained closed until the park could clear many downed and damaged trees that pose a hazard to visitors.


Elsewhere, Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo in Washington were expected to reopen Tuesday.