Shutdown: State parks are open, but why don't tourists know that?

October 03, 2013|By Mary Forgione | Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
  • Chinese poem inscriptions stand out along a barracks wall at Angel Island State Park in San Francisco Bay. The state park has seen a dip in visitors even though it's unaffected by the government shutdown.
Chinese poem inscriptions stand out along a barracks wall at Angel Island… (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)

State parks and towns adjacent to Yosemite National Park have a message for Californians: We're open for business. The government shutdown of national parks, forests, memorials and monuments that began Tuesday inadvertently has driven folks away from outdoor areas unaffected by the federal action.

"Most people don't know the difference between a national park and a state park," John Koeberer, chief executive of California Parks Co., which operates concessions in national and state parks, said in a statement Wednesday. "It's the national parks that have been affected by the federal shutdown, but at Angel Island, a state park, we've seen a big drop in visits." 

Koeberer said he thinks visitors may believe the shutdown applies to the historic immigration station at Angel Island State Park in San Francisco Bay -- where hiking trails are open and bicycle and Segway rentals are operating as usual -- as it does to Alcatraz Island.

"The shutdown is hurting people, parks and businesses not just on the federal lands, but off them as well," Koeberer said.

Towns around the south entrance to Yosemite National Park, already impacted by late summer's Rim fire, also are feeling the effects of the shutdown. "If there's a silver lining, it's that the shutdown didn't occur during out peak season," Jarrod Lyman of the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau in Oakhurst, Calif., said via email. "However many of our hotels are reporting cancellations."

Hiking around Bass Lake near Oakhurst, touring the dozen vineyards along the Madera Wine Trail and taking a ride on the historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad are some of the alternatives being offered to visitors already in the area, Lyman said.

The south entrance to Yosemite via California 41 has been closed except to through traffic, and the roadway that runs through the park -- California 120 or Tioga Road -- remains open, which means visitors may still get a glimpse of Half Dome and El Capitan. However, all services and side roads in the park are closed.

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