While Rocky Mountain National Park remains open during government shutdown, its roads are closed due to lack of snowplowing
Roads into Rocky Mountain National Park remain closed this week as the federal government’s ongoing shutdown moves towards the beginning of the four-week mark.
When the U.S. Federal Government went into a partial shutdown on Dec. 22, hundreds of thousands of nonessential federal government employees were furloughed and sent home for the duration of the shutdown. At the same time, a core group of federal employees deemed “essential” have been required to continue working without pay. The impacts of the federal government shutdown are more pronounced in Grand County than perhaps other regions of the state due in large part to the prevalence of federal employees and federal lands.
Rocky Mountain National Park, the west side of which is located on Grand County’s far northeast end, remains technically open under the government shutdown though the Grand Lake entrance to the park is closed to vehicle traffic. All roads leading into Rocky Mountain National Park were closed to vehicle on Dec. 30 due to road conditions, recent snowfall and the inability to snowplow, sand or otherwise maintain the roads necessitated because of the shutdown.
“It is uncertain whether these roads will reopen until after the shutdown,” park officials stated on their website.
The road into Rocky Mountain National Park has been plowed up to County Road 491, just past the Kawuneeche Visitor Center. County Road 491 remains plowed, as well. The remainder of Trail Ridge Road, extending north and east from the visitor’s center, sat under a blanket of several inches of unplowed snow and park officials have gated off the road a few hundred yards south of the entrance’s ranger stations.
Outdoor enthusiasts, including cross-country skiers, snowshoers and more, are still permitted to enter the park. Parking is available at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center.
Most employees on the park’s west side have been furloughed though some of the park’s law enforcement rangers remain on duty and could be seen patrolling the west side of the park as of Tuesday.
The park’s official public information officer, Kyle Patterson, has been placed on furlough, and was not available for comment on this story.
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