Nick Rosen |

Stealth van dwellers
Poorest suffer most
The National Park Service(NPS) issued a warning last week to all people residing in its parks and campgrounds, in RVs in the backcountry, or on houseboats in government owned marinas — that they will be required to leave the parks by 3 p.m. last Thursday and find other accommodations due to the federal government shutdown.

At Lake Mohave, for example, part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the park is closed to the general public. The Lake Mead NRA is operated by the National Park Service, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

When Lake Mohave facilities are on a holiday schedule such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, the entrance station is closed, but visitors are still permitted to enter the park. That was not the case Tuesday, as the entrance was barricaded and a park ranger was posted there to determine who enters and who gets turned away.

“The difference is we don’t have the full-time staff in the park,” said Christie Vanover, Lake Mead NRA public affairs officer. “So there are times when we don’t have entrance station crews available but there’s still the security and the protection within the park for people to recreate and there’s still full concessions operations.” (See TV report)

All people residing in the park — in the Katherine Landing trailer village, in homes at Cabinsite Point, or on houseboats in the Katherine Landing marina — will be required to leave the park by 3 p.m. Thursday and find other accommodations, Vanover said. For the duration of the shutdown, however, anyone with personal property in the park will be allowed to enter to retrieve it, she said.

“We can’t deny access to personal property,” Vanover said. “We are allowing them access into the park in case they want to remove any of their belongings inside of their vessel or trailer, or if they want to actually remove their vessel or (campground) trailer from the park so that they can use it at another location.”

Basically ALL of the federal parks under the National Park Service (NPS) are closed. This includes the National Parks, National Monuments, National Recreation Areas, Wildlife Refuge Areas. Even Great Smoky Mountains National Park which some people thought might remain partially open, seeing as how it has no “gates” and no entrance fee, is closed.

The Park Service’s main webpage,, has been shut down but some individual park sites are still up. NPS status can be found on the Dept of Interior’s website,

The official contingency plan for the national parks says, “Park roads would be closed except when they are necessary as thruways” which has implications for parks like the Grand Canyon and Zion but I really don’t know the current status.

Your options for parks during the shutdown include state parks and tribal parks.

Options in Arizona and southern Utah (for example) are myriad very attractive state parks and parks on tribal land. Around Page that would be Antelope Canyon, then there’s Monument Valley, or Canyon de Chelly, to name just a few. the latter two absolutely top notch destinations. There are many notable State parks along UT SR 12, Goblin, Kodachrome, etc, and outside Moab there’s the Dead Horse Point SP, which gives you the same views Canyonlands, its next door big neighbor, as well as many trails Outside Phoenix there’s the Lost Dutchman State Park which leads you along or into the Superstitions , etc … there’s no dearth of possibilities: there are myriad options, and of course, as stated above, some of the parks have ‘normal’ highways running across them (Zion, Capitol Reef)

Vanover said 170 Lake Mead NRA employees have been furloughed. There are another 60 who are considered essential, including park rangers “so that they can still provide emergency response for the limited (number of) people that are here as well as provide security not only for the property but for the resources. And then there will be a water treatment facility operator who will remain on staff and then there’s a couple of other administrative folks who will remain on staff, including myself,” she said.Vanover said the Lake Mead NRA welcomes approximately 450,000 visitors in October and the economic impact on the area economy, which includes Bullhead/Laughlin and Las Vegas, is roughly $17 million for this month alone.

From Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 1.1 million people entered the park at Katherine Landing, up from 660,000 at this point last year, Vanover said. “We don’t know the full reason but we do attribute it slightly to fluctuating lake levels at Lake Mead, whereas Lake Mohave doesn’t have the same fluctuating lake levels.”

Because they will not be maintained, the National Park Service and Lake Mead NRA websites will be down for the duration of the shutdown, Vanover said. For updates on the shutdown, go to

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