Shutdown Cost Parks $414 million

8 million fewer visitors in 2013

No Whitney permits were distributed on October 2 at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center. (Whitney Dreier)
Photo: Whitney Dreier

Last October's government shutdown didn't stop one of our editors from summiting Mount Whitney on her birthday, but it definitely cost America’s national parks and their surrounding communities some dough: $414 million in lost visitor spending, the Associated Press reports

About 8 million fewer people—a 33.3 percent decline—visited national parks last October, due to the 16-day shutdown. A report released Monday by the National Park Service notes that five states, including California and Arizona, lost more than $20 million during that time. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which stretches across Tennessee and North Carolina, received 329,104 fewer visitors than average.

Six states—Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah—received permission to reopen parks during the shutdown and were able to generate approximately $10 for every dollar visitors spent. Congress will review a bill to reimburse those states. 

"It is not known how people intending to visit NPS or other federal lands near gateway communities may have modified their travel plans during and after the shutdown," the report states. "Therefore, estimating the overall total change in visitation and spending impacts to NPS gateway communities associated with the government shutdown is beyond the scope of this analysis. This summary focuses on the more immediate changes in visitor spending associated with October NPS visitation in the gateway regions and does not estimate job, labor income, or output impacts, which are typically considered longer-term effects."

More Adventure