With shutdown over, Mt. Rainier finally reopens

ASHFORD, Wash. -- The end of the government shutdown meant happy visitors could return to Mount Rainier National Park on Thursday.

For the past 16 days, people could admire the mountain from afar, but getting close and personal was out of the question.

But on Thursday the gates were reopened and park rangers came back to work to get the park up and running.

"We were planning on going today. We didn't know if it would be open and then heard this morning that it was going to be, so we're very excited," said Wendy Wooster, who was visiting from Minnesota.

One visitor from Kenya, who happens to be a tour guide at Mount Kilimanjaro, was stunned that the government shut down the park. James Makau said the same thing would never happen in his home country.

"Oh my gosh, they wouldn't do that," he said. "It's the backbone of the economy. Having them shut it up here was a surprise to me."

There was little to no talk Thursday about who was to blame for the shutdown, just excitement that the park has reopened.

"This is great. We are delighted," said visitor Jim Beley. "And we didn't have to exercise any civil disobedience."

The lodge at Paradise is closed for the season, but that doesn't have anything to do with the shutdown. However, the lodge at Longmire is open and already filling up with guests.

Government employees are getting back pay for their missed time, but the businesses leading into the park suffered a loss that can't be repaid.

"Where it hurt us was the reservations that weren't made for these weekends. Normally, we'd be sold out on these weekends. So it impacted our business that way. Today it's open and the sun is out. God is good," said Luke Osterhaus of Jasmer's Rainier Cabins.

Osterhaus and others with businesses near the park are cautiously optimistic that they won't be subject to another shutdown in a few months.