ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – If you want to visit Rocky Mountain National Park during the government shutdown, limited access is available if you’re willing to put up with a few inconveniences.
Limited gates are open. Obviously missing are the friendly rangers who usually collect the entrance fees. You can go as far as the road will take you, but now that’s very far.
Once you reach the cones you’re on your own. Park visitors are permitted to hike as far as they want. Without the normal crowds the park seems like a winter wonderland.
On the other hand if nature calls in a different way, only some restrooms are open. Those in charge of cleaning them are not working. CBS4 could tell by the toilet paper on the floors. The reports of human feces at other national parks did not appear to be the case here though.
The Leubers family came to the park from Nebraska. They planned their trip and made their reservations around Thanksgiving. They were not pleased to find the park primarily closed.
“It’s sad. It’s sad to see the government in dysfunction, that’s the sad part to me, ” said Mike Leubers.
Visitor centers are shut. Garbage cans are now sealed with tarps placed over them and signs that read, “Due to the government shut down, sanitation services are suspended.”
Not all employees have been told to stay home. One ranger was busy telling people to move their cars. When CBS4’s Rick Sallinger asked her why she was working she replied, “I’m an essential employee.”
The government closure over a political battle regarding a wall to line the Mexican border with the U.S. doesn’t ban having fun at this national park gem. Children were sledding down hills and cross country skiers seemed to have the park all to themselves.
One park visitor Erin Jensen of Boulder sees the shutdown as having two sides.
“I feel bad for the government employees who don’t have a job right now, and I feel bad for my friends who are visiting from California, and I can’t take them up into the park,” she said.
For more information on the park during the shutdown people might turn to the park’s website, but those who update it aren’t working either.