By Matt Kroschel

ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4) — Merry Christmas and good luck finding a National Parks employee to assist you on your next visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, thanks to the government partial shutdown. Park visitors are being told to use extreme caution right now because inside the park, personnel are not available to help with directions or assistance.

(CBS)

For Ryan Hediger and his family, spending Christmas in the park is a tradition but this year those plans are being changed.

“We kind of had expected it to be open, we have come out here the last two years to go to hidden Valley play around we were totally bummed,” Hediger said.

Bear Lake Road in RMNP on Monday. (credit – Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park)

Like many visitors they were caught off guard by the barriers and bare-bones staff.

Trash cans are filling up, visitor centers are closed.

“Emergency services will be limited. Any entry to the park during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor’s sole risk,” a parks spokeswoman said in a news release over the weekend.

Making matters worse, new weekend snow that is blowing and drifting along park roads forced the closures of some access gates on Sunday.

Near the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Tuesday. (credit – CBS4)

The Beaver Meadows Entrance and the Fall River Entrance have both been closed.

Parks employees cannot plow and maintain roads during the shutdown, according to the news release.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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