Bryce Canyon National Park open despite gov't shutdown

One of the unfortunate aspects of a government shutdown is the closure of many national parks and similar facilities. However, Utah's Bryce Canyon with its stark beauty, remains open thanks to the support of partner organizations.

This good news came to TheTravelPro in an email from Garfield County's Office of Tourism.

That office "wants the public to know that Bryce Canyon National Park, one of Utah's most visited sites, is still accessible to travelers, though services are limited," the communiqué began. "The State Tourism Office, the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association and Garfield County have provided funding and in-kind resources to keep the visitor's center open and the park's restrooms and public areas clean and trash-free."

While key parts of the federal government have been affected since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, Bryce Canyon is one of a handful of national parks to remain open.

A slot canyon off Burr Trail

Some national parks are littered with garbage, have locked restrooms and blocked roads because of piling snow. Bryce Canyon has been able to avoid a similar situation because of the support of partner organizations which have collaborated to keep major portions of the park accessible. Those include the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association (NHA), which has pledged $10,000 to underwrite any funding shortfall to keep Bryce Canyon open.

"Don't cancel your plans if you scheduled a trip to Bryce Canyon from the United States or overseas," Gayle Pollack, the association's director said. "The NHA is committed to supporting the visitor center operations for however long the federal shutdown lasts."

Other agencies are also stepping up to meet the park's needs. Those include Garfield County, which will provide local law enforcement personnel to maintain order and safety when needed.

"I don't suspect the park's closure will be years or months like you hear in the news, but we are in this for the long haul," Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins said. "The sheriff's department pledges support in the form of equipment to keep the roads free from snow and law enforcement officers to help with any safety or rescue issues in the park."

Bryce Canyon in winter

As the shutdown continues, the county says it will work with the State of Utah and regional and county partners to identify the best solution to keep the park open.

Tourism officials are drawing some encouragement from a memo sent to the National Park Service by Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. In that memo, Bernhardt requested that the NPS use funding from the parks' recreational fees to pay for basic services - including trash pickup, restroom cleaning and patrolling park areas — that have been suspended due to the partial government shutdown.

"We want to make sure those that have planned to visit the area still get the opportunity to take in our incredible Bryce Canyon National Park," Falyn Owens, executive director of the Garfield Tourism Office, said. "Visitors should be mindful that some areas are short-staffed. It is important for visitors to try to minimize any impact to the park so we can all enjoy the natural beauty of Bryce Canyon."

For information about Bryce Canyon and its operations during the government shutdown, go to

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Photos courtesy the Garfield County Office of Tourism
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