Access to Mount Rainier National Park will be free during the government shutdown, but the experience will be different than usual inside the park, said acting superintendent Tracy Swartout.
While visitors are allowed to enter the park, visitor services — including restrooms — will be closed as only essential positions are working. The park will attempt to maintain the road to Longmire, but access to Paradise will not be available, Swartout said.
Parking could be limited at Longmire with fewer places for visitors to go and fewer workers to clear snow.
At the Carbon River Entrance, visitors can still access the trails that start in that corner of the park.
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But access to all parts of the park could change at any time. “This is where we are starting from,” Swartout said.
Accidents, the inability to clear roads with the reduced staff or other factors could lead to access changes. Swartout estimates that 36 of Rainier’s 110 winter employees are working during the shutdown.
Concessionaires aren’t impacted, so places like the National Park Inn and its restaurant will not be closed as long as the road to Longmire is open, Swartout said.
Visitors will have to look elsewhere for information about weather and backcountry avalanche risk inside the park. During the shutdown, the park will not update its social media accounts or website.
At Olympic National Park, visitor services and the road to Hurricane Ridge will be closed.
Government employees do not get paid during the shutdown whether they are furloughed or continue working. Congress would vote on whether to restore pay after the shutdown. Pay was restored after the 2013 shutdown.