TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The partial government shutdown has some national parks and monuments shutting their gates, while others stayed open Saturday without employee services.
“It’s been a lifelong dream to bring my family here,” Jocelyn Banerdt said at the Saguaro National Park Saturday with her family.
Banerdt said they drove three days to Tucson to enjoy the cactus, something she loves and has always wanted to see in Tucson. But, the “area closed” signs were a disappointing sight to see.
“You want to go into the center, you want to see the concert that was going to be here, you want someone to guide you through the trails. There’s nothing available," said Banerdt.
Due to the partial government shutdown, park staff have been furloughed and both visitor centers are closed.
Park roads and trails are open to visitors, but there are no NPS-provided services, like public information, restrooms, trash collection and facilities or road maintenance.
“Lack of toilets really is offensive to me just from a basic, civilized perspective. You can shut everything else, just keep the toilets open.” said Michael Banerdt.
“Just to come out and enjoy the beauty of the desert and these amazing Saguaros," said Don Bennett. "To see the sunset and watch the moon come up over the mountain here.”
Don Bennett planned to enjoy the park’s “Moonrise over the Mountains” music program Saturday night, but that event was canceled due to the shutdown, as were others this weekend.
Bennett, his wife and his friends, and others who brought chairs for the show in the sky opted to stick around because, despite the shutdown, the sun will still set and the moon will still rise.
“Don’t let the government shut down prohibit you from doing things you want to do. Get out and enjoy all you can, in spite of it," said Bennett.
NPS said programs scheduled into next week, including the Annual Holiday Caravan program on December 27 are tentatively cancelled unless funding is provided and normal park operations are able to resume.
NPS social media and websites are not being monitored or updated and may not reflect current conditions.