Access to national parks, forests limited after government shutdown

    Storm clouds roll by Mount Rainier. (Photo courtesy of Scott Eliot)

    SEATTLE — Access to U.S. national parks, monuments and forests in Washington state and beyond is being limited due to the continuing government shutdown.

    Although the parks and forests remain technically open, there will be almost no services, including search and rescue, visitor centers, road plowing and trash collection.

    In Washington, the shutdown is having its greatest impact at Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades national parks, San Juan Island National Historic Park and all national forests.

    Here are some specifics:

    MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK: To the extent possible, vehicle access will continue to be provided from the Nisqually entrance to Longmire, but not to Paradise. Visitors' facilities, including restrooms and campgrounds, are closed. Trash will not be collected. Roads will not be plowed during the shutdown and search-and-rescue crews will not be available.

    OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK: The park remains open, but no visitor services are available, including restrooms and trash collection. In addition, most park roads and campgrounds are closed due to downed trees and other damage from last week's windstorm. Elwha (Olympic Hot Springs) Road is closed to vehicles beyond Madison Falls parking lot due to a washout.

    SAN JUAN ISLAND NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK: The park grounds remain open, but there are no visitor services and hazardous conditions may exist.

    FORT VANCOUVER NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK: The park remains open, but there will be no visitor services.

    NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK SERVICE COMPLEX: The park remains open, but there will be no visitor services.

    NATIONAL FORESTS: Trails are open, but camping and other facilities are closed. Trailheads are not closed, but all gates will be locked, limiting access. Visitors at campgrounds operated by the U.S. Forest Service will be given 48 hours to vacate, with the area shut down as the last visitor leaves, not to exceed 48 hours. Forest Service website and social media sites won't be maintained and road and trail conditions won't be provided.

    National parks, forests and monuments in other states, such as Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, are operating under similar restrictions as those in Washington state. More information is available here ...

    The silver lining is that all state and local parks remain open, with full public services.

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