America’s scenic treasures, national parks, closed for viewing during shutdown

October 1, 2013

The beautiful, verdant parks of the West, with their majestic trees, their flowers and their wildlife — from moose to bears — are off-limits. The great monuments of the East, with their statues of powerful men, have been padlocked.

The country’s national parks are closed to the public during the government’s partial shutdown.

Visitors are nicely shooed away, said Phil Francis, a former supervisor of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Kentucky, who turned away tourists during previous shutdowns.

“We’re polite and ask people if they’ll please leave,” Francis said during a call-in news conference scheduled by the National Parks Conservation Association, recounting his days on the job. Some people would mumble under their breath, he said, others would make their feelings known.

“They express an opinion that’s generally not favorable in the least,” Francis said.

Here are 10 national treasures that have been closed, with the average number of daily visitors and the amounts they spend, based on National Park Service data analyzed by the NPCA.

1. Yellowstone National Park is the nation’s first park, a pristine expanse mostly in Wyoming, with an eye-popping geyser called Old Faithful that helps lure about 5,600 people a day who spend more than half a million dollars.

2. Grand Canyon National Park is a biological and geological wonder with rocks up to a billion years old. It draws an average of 11,600 people who spend about $1.2 million.

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an emerald beauty straddling North Carolina and Tennessee in the southern Appalachian Mountains. The park draws about 36,000 visitors a day who spend $3 million.

4. The Statue of Liberty is the New York Harbor icon that beckoned immigrants from Europe. It attracts 10,000 visitors a day who spend about $465,000.

5. The Lincoln Memorial is Washington’s rock-star tourist attraction at the western end of the Mall. It draws 16,900 people a day who spend $610,000.

6. Yosemite National Park, with its sharp alpine ridges and lakes that mirror the sky, was shut down on its 123rd birthday. Yosemite draws 11,000 people daily who spend $1.1 million.

They planned for months and traveled far and wide to visit Washington, D.C., but tourists have been greeted by the government shutdown, which means closed museums and sites. The Post's Zoeann Murphy talks to some of them on the National Mall. (The Washington Post)

7. Everglades National Park is the great Florida swamp full of alligators, exotic birds, woodland creatures and the invasive pythons threatening their habitat. About 2,200 people visit daily and spend $275,000.

8. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, dedicated to the great civil rights leader, is one of Washington’s newest attractions. It draws 12,300 people a day to its spot off the Tidal Basin, and they spend $1.1 million.

9. Rocky Mountain National Park has velvety green hills, tall peaks and steep, perilous drops that turn a drive along its roads into a palm-sweating ad­ven­ture. About 7,800 people visit daily and spend half a million dollars.

10. Redwood National Park is a site with ancient and enormous trees with canopies that block the sky and trunks often shrouded by fog. More than 1,000 people pull off U.S. Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles each day to visit, spending $57,000.

Darryl Fears has worked at The Washington Post for more than a decade, mostly as a reporter on the National staff. He currently covers the environment, focusing on the Chesapeake Bay and issues affecting wildlife.
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