Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Am a Park Ranger: Video from Behind the Federal Shutdown's Locked NPS Gates

During the federal government shutdown, I've been frustrated by those US citizens who say that it's their right to trespass on national park lands that are currently closed. Cloaked in blustery self-righteous indignation, many of these trespassers are doing nothing more than throwing a childish tantrum, because they can't get what they want. They're missing the bigger picture: how can we all help preserve national parklands during political crises?

Instead of respecting the natural and cultural resources that our national parks and dedicated ranger staff work to protect, thoughtless trespassers have trampled fragile ecosystems, broken visitor infrastructure, defecated next to locked bathrooms, and even hurt themselves and required rescue by park staff who are already stretched to their limits, first by budget cutbacks and then by the shutdown.

Nobody can explain this better than national park rangers themselves, which is why you should watch the heartbreaking video above, put together by the National Parks Conservation AssociationIt's my hope that people will stop defaming and challenging park rangers just for doing their job, protecting national parks. Instead we should place blame for park closures where it belongs: on the US Congress.

If your national parks vacation has been ruined by temporary national park closures, feel free to post a comment below asking for trip re-planning advice and the best alternative places - hello, state parks! - that you can still visit during the shutdown.

Related links:
National Parks Conservation Association: Government Shutdown Closes National Parks
US National Parks: The 4 Biggest Advantages of Autumn Travel
Visiting Yosemite National Park? 5 Tips to Avoid Being Driven Mad by Crowds


  1. The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina is open, though some of the buildings aren't, since in a case like this local law enforcement agencies are allowed to exercise jurisdiction in case any travelers have a problem.

  2. True! Some roads through NPS areas are open, especially along major highways that are also used by local traffic. Here in California, you're allowed to drive through Yosemite National Park on Hwy 120, etc., but not allowed to stop and do any outdoor recreation along the way.

    Hopefully, the shutdown will finish soon and parks will be reopening promptly. Fingers crossed.