Here’s How the Government Shutdown Might Affect Your Winter Travel Plans
As the shutdown lingers deeper into the new year, travelers can expect more closures at some favorite warm-weather escapes.
We’ve long subscribed to the belief that the best way to beat the post-holiday blues is to follow the season up with an epic winter getaway. But this year, as a partial government shutdown drags on further and further, some of those old faithful attractions in destinations across the country won’t be the same—and, at worst, will be completely off limits to visitors.
According to personal finance site Wallethub, among the top five states most affected by the shutdown is one of our winter vacay favorites, Hawaii. The state, which has both a large military presence and multiple national parks, ranked fourth in the survey based in part on its high share of federal jobs.
And with many federal workers furloughed, Hawaii national parks have taken a big hit. Those that remain open have severely limited access, maintenance, and visitor services, including restroom use and trash collection. In two of Hawaii’s most famous parks, Volcanoes National Park and Haleakala National Park on Maui, a slim crew of unpaid rangers continues to keep much of the parks open, albeit with limited programs and visitor center access. Elsewhere on the islands, Hawaii’s national wildlife refuges remain unstaffed with visitors able to enter at their own risk.
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The same is true for many national parks across the country, including in South Florida, where Everglades and Biscayne national parks are being kept afloat thanks to volunteers. But with slimmer staffs and less resources, some worry that keeping the parks open could do more harm than good. With limited maintenance, visitors are reporting trash piling up in many areas of the park. Meanwhile, groups of volunteers are organizing around the country to help clean it up. (You can help, too!)
As the shutdown continues, it’s unclear how long the parks could remain operational with help from volunteers, but either way, closures are more likely. So, if your winter bucket list includes hiking the bluffs of Hawaii or the beaches of Florida, it might be wise to do it at one of the many fab—and often equally as beautiful—state parks.