Great Basin National Park is back open after Congress reached a deal to end the partial government shutdown last week. The park, which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., was forced to turn away residents and tourists alike, though Park Superintendent Steven Mietz said most knew about the situation on some level.
“Most folks knew about the shutdown and closure, however, international tourists had the most trouble understanding why the reasons why they could not enter the park,” Mietz said. “Many folks were surprised that we had a Ranger enforcing the closure at the park entrance. The closure was put in place to protect life and property so we were authorized to have a skeleton crew of Rangers on during the shutdown to ensure life and property were protected.”
In all, Mietz said Rangers turned away 174 vehicles during the shutdown, with many of the vehicles containing multiple passengers. Some work scheduled to take place in the park also faced delays.
“The biggest impact was disruption to the travelers who had long planned the trip to our remote location,” Mietz said. “Out-of-state and foreign tourists that planned once-in-a-lifetime trips were most heavily impacted. Implementation of some facility maintenance, including some contract work, was delayed, but we are working hard to make up for lost time before winter settles in on the mountain.”
While the park turned away hundreds of visitors during the closure, now that the park is back up and running, Mietz said now is a great time for people to check out what the park has to offer.
“Now that the park is open, please come and visit,” Mietz said. “Recent warm weather has allowed us to plow open the scenic drive all the way to the top. Now is a great time to see the full colors on the mountain.”
While the government shutdown forced the closure of national parks across the country, Baker also felt the impacts of Great Basin National Park’s closure. With many of the businesses dependent on tourist business, many businesses were hurt.
Great Basin Business and Tourism Council Chairman Terry Steadman, himself an owner of a business in Baker for 24 years, said in a release that businesses reported losses as much as 50 percent during the shutdown.