GRAND LAKE, Colo. (CBS4) – After the floods and now the government shutdown Estes Park is pleading with Colorado’s congressional delegation to open up Rocky Mountian National Park. The town says the shutdown is killing tourism, and that’s not the only town hurting.
On the other side of the park Grand Lake is an economic crisis as well. It’s a town that’s known for a casual therapeutic ambiance, but with the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park, it’s simply quiet.
“We didn’t have any flooding in Grand County. We were not affected at all by the flooding,” Kacey Beres with the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce said.
In fact, evacuees from Estes Park made their way over Trail Ridge Road to find Grand Lake with open arms last month. Businesses did see a slight slowdown with its neighboring community cut off from the Front Range.
“We felt a little bit of that,” Beres said.
“Normally we have a lot more people up here looking for the fall change, the weather changing and the trees changing,” Grand Lake resident Richard Dickson said.
But the past week during the government shutdown has really hurt the Grand Lake economy.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the government shutdown, shutting down the parks and shutting down all the recreation areas we have out here,” Dickson said.
“The park closing down has affected our smaller businesses and our lodging community,” Beres said. “A lot of folks have canceled their reservations because the park is closed and the park is a big draw for Grand Lake.”
July saw some of the highest numbers for park attendance, and with fall in full hue, normally thousands come by the town. On Tuesday it was hard to find any tourists.
“I think everybody should still be coming out,” Dicksons said.
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“It’s still beautiful in Grand Lake, the businesses are still open and inviting everyone to come up and shop the boardwalk in Grand Lake,” Beres said. “The elk are in rut and there’s a back way to still be able to see those elk.”
Along with the leaves changing colors the elk rut is the biggest draw this time of year.
One store on Tuesday was handing out maps that provide a back way to see the animals. Campsites in the national forest are closed but trails are open and because of the shutdown there isn’t a fee.