Been anxiously awaiting your big trip, only to realize the national parks you were going to visit are now shut down? This is the scenario that Jeff and I, and many other Americans, unwittingly found ourselves in.
Admittedly, it sucks. But that doesn’t mean your trip can’t be fantastic! Here are 5 tips that Jeff and I used to turn governmental lemons into proverbially delightful lemonade.
TIP #1: Visit nearby parks that remain open.
This sounds simple, but it’s not. Not only are most state parks still open (and happy to have you visit!) but many national parks that are on Indian land have remained open as well. In our case, Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley provided excellent substitutes for the many national parks we had planned to visit during our Southwest trip. In addition, national parks that have highways running through them have typically kept the road itself open, so you may be able to see part of the park (if not actually go through the gates to the visitors center).
TIP #2: Ask the locals.
If you have already booked accommodation, call and ask about what is still open in the surrounding area (and confirm that the national park you wish to visit is indeed closed—see #1). Local vendors have inside access to information from the chamber of commerce that they are more than happy to share with you. Use them! They want your business. If they aren’t helpful, call the chamber of commerce yourself.
TIP #3: Research proposed national parks in the area you are visiting.
At any given time, there are numerous national parks being proposed around the country. Do some internet research to find them and then take this opportunity to be the first to see them (i.e., before they are even designated as national parks)! This is especially true if you want to hike or just take in the great outdoors. America has many gorgeous areas outside of national parks. Keep in mind, though — be safe! Let someone know where you are going.
TIP #4: Be flexible.
This shutdown could end any hour now and individual states are re-opening national parks as we speak. So, to the extent possible, don’t plan too far advance and only book accommodation with little to no cancellation implications. Or even better, ask vendors to waive the cancellation restrictions during the shutdown. That way you’ll be ready to change plans the minute the government re-opens. Hopefully soon!
TIP #5: Take time to relax.
Of course it’s disappointing when plans don’t pan out, but the purpose of vacation is to vacate daily life and replenish your soul. Regardless of the national parks, find a place to achieve these goals. Be creative!
There are many other ways to survive the shutdown. Let me know if you have any other suggestions or have tried other tactics with success!!!