Geysers yes, Ellis Island no: Some US parks open, some not
Visitors could still ride snowmobiles and ski into Yellowstone National Park Saturday to marvel at the geysers and buffalo herds, despite the federal government shutdown.
But across the country in New York, the nation’s most famous monuments to immigration — the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island — were closed.
The Interior Department had vowed to keep open as many parks, monuments and public lands as possible during the shutdown, which began at midnight Friday on the East Coast.
By mid-day Saturday, the pattern was spotty, and some visitors were frustrated.
“My initial reaction is, they really kind of screwed up our day. We had a great day planned,” said Dan O’Meara, a California firefighter who wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
“But the next thing is, you know — it’s troubling that the people we voted in are not doing the job that they’re supposed to be doing. So, it’s very frustrating,” he said.
In Yellowstone, cross-country skier Carol Weaver was unhappy with lawmakers, even though the park was open for her and nine friends who planned a two-day visit.
Weaver, from Bozeman, Montana, worried about what would happen if the impasse is lengthy.
“This is our public land, and we should be able to use it any time we want,” she said. “Congress better get its act together. They’ve been so irresponsible the last year, as well as the White House.”
Yellowstone had 2 inches of fresh snow on Saturday and temperatures were in the teens. Visitor centers and other facilities run by the National Park Service were closed, but privately operated hotels, tour services and gift shops were open.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts and other private companies that serve visitors at Yellowstone said they would groom the park’s snow-packed roads for up to a week to keep them open for snowmobiles and snow coaches — small buses with tank-like tracks.
In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall — where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed — were closed.
Gaetana Dimauro of Adelaide, Australia, wasn’t aware of the government shutdown when she went to see the Liberty Bell.
“That’s bad though,” she said. “I never heard of that before.”
In Boston, the USS Constitution, the 220-year-old warship anchored at Charlestown Navy Yard, was open to visitors. But the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Bunker Hill was closed.
In New Mexico, parts of Bandelier National Monument’s cliff dwellings and fragile archaeological sites were off-limits to protect them from damage, but the entrance road and some trails were open.
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and Yosemite National Park in California were open, but few Park Service staff were available to help visitors.
A storm moving into Colorado Saturday was expected to drop up to 18 inches of snow, and Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said crews would not plow the roads.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston was closed, as were exhibits at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.