The shutdown’s unexpected closures

October 2, 2013

Everyone knows the shutdown has shuttered D.C.'s free museums, monuments and memorials, but there is a significant list of less-expected locales that are also closed. The fact that the National Park Service shut down has wide ranging implications. For example, if an agreement hasn't been reached by this weekend and you had plans to go golfing at East Potomac Park, see fall foliage along Skyline Drive, take your kids to a play at Adventure Theatre or go for a jog along the towpath, then you might need to reconsider. Read on for a list of some of the surprising closures.


The Swift Run Gap entrance to Skyline Drive near Elkton, Va., in the Shenandoah National Park posted signs letting visitors know the park is closed. (AP Photo/Daily News-Record, Jason Lenhart)

Skyline Drive

This is prime time to set out for the Shenandoah to spy the fall colors, but one of the most popular byways for leaf peeping is closed. So are all Shenandoah hiking trails, such as Old Rag and Whiteoak Canyon. According to the News Virginian, the shutdown coincides with the most popular time of year for Shenandoah National Park. Nearly a quarter of the 250,000 annual visitors generally drop by in October.

Meridian Hill Park

The intricately landscaped park is more of a neighborhood hangout than a national tourist destination, but Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park is indeed under the purview of the National Park Service. Much to the disappointment of many dog owners in the U Street neighborhood, the park had barricades across it as of last night. Better find a new picnic spot for this weekend.

C&O Canal

The canal and towpath, including all visitor’s centers, access roads, Canal Quarters lockhouses and campgrounds are closed. That means no foot, bike or horse traffic. And as a sad addendum, the segment of the Capital Crescent Trail that runs parallel to the towpath (from Georgetown to just beyond Fletcher’s Boathouse) is also closed. And we know you’re probably thinking, “who would notice if I just tiptoe past this barricade?” Consider yourself warned -- law enforcement rangers have not been furloughed.

Thompson's Boat Center, Fletcher's Boathouse, etc.

The Potomac River may be open, but many of its access points -- like the Thompson's Boat Center -- are controlled by the National Park Service. The closure of the boat house doesn't just disrupt the day for casual kayakers or those hoping to rent bikes at Fletcher's Boathouse. It also hurts the area's college and high school rowing teams, who cannot practice.

Gravelly Point

While Gravelly Point's pedestrian plane-spotters will have little trouble getting into their favorite spot to watch aircraft landing at Reagan National Airport, the parking lot to the park has been barricaded. The park is technically closed, too, but it has many access points, and it will be difficult for park police to enforce the closure.

Ford’s Theatre

The site is currently closed to visitors, although the walking tour Investigation: Detective McDevitt is still happening. While last night’s performance of “The Laramie Project” was moved to Woolly Mammoth, that may not be a valid long-term solution for the production if the shutdown continues. The theater plans to make an announcement, possibly by later today, about what the plan is for upcoming performances and events.

East Potomac Park, including Hains Point

Golf may seem like a good furlough activity, but one of D.C.’s most popular public courses is a no-go. The roads leading into East Potomac Park have been barricaded, which makes getting to the East Potomac Pool a bit difficult. The outdoor heated pool, which is part of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (thanks, Mayor Gray), is open until Oct. 13. And while teleportation seems like the most promising mode of transportation, pool employees are reportedly having no problem walking or biking to work.

Glen Echo Park, including Adventure Theatre

Though the family-friendly spot for arts and culture is not operated by the federal government, the former amusement park is part of the National Park system. That's why it has closed up shop, canceling pottery classes and dance performances. Adventure Theatre is waiting to make a call on its upcoming performances of “Goodnight Moon” until later in the week. Staff will be contacting patrons on Friday for Saturday's performances, and Saturday for Sunday’s performances if the shutdown is still in effect. All tickets, including birthday parties and groups, will be honored for future dates of “Goodnight Moon.” The Cajun and Zydeco Music and Dance Festival, which was scheduled to take place at the Spanish Ballroom this Saturday, has been moved to Blob's Park. (An updated schedule with more information about the festival will be posted on DancingByTheBayou.com this week.)

Capitol Hill playgrounds

One of the best things about Capitol Hill is the plethora of parks, most of which contain playground equipment. But these outdoor spaces, including Lincoln Park, Stanton Park, Garfield Park and Marion Park, are maintained by the National Park Service, which means that the toddler-friendly play spaces have been padlocked shut, leaving families out in the cold.

In happier news...

Wolf Trap is open. While the Filene Center outdoor arena is operated jointly by the National Park Service and the Wolf Trap Foundation, the indoor venue, the Barns, is run solely by the Wolf Trap Foundation, so upcoming performances won't be affected. Thankfully the shutdown didn’t happen in early August, when there could have been some very angry Ke$ha fans roaming around Vienna.

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Maura Judkis | October 2, 2013