California's National Parks Reopen, But Before You Go, Look for Alerts

Check before you go: While Muir Beach Overlook, pictured here is now open, Muir Beach below is not.
Check before you go: While Muir Beach Overlook, pictured here is now open, Muir Beach below is not. | Photo: ohad*/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The confirmations are first coming in through social media, but they all have the same message: We're back! With the government shutdown officially over, furloughed federal employees can go back to work and begin welcoming the public once again.

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But visitors should nevertheless check with the park service before heading out or they may be just as disappointed as during the shutdown. It's par for the course that things happen that can inhibit access any time of the year. For example:

  • Seasonal closures: With winter approaching, many camping spots in the Sierra Nevadas close. For instance, Tamarack Flat in Yosemite National Park was scheduled to close October 15, shutdown or not.
  • Maintenance: Things break. While Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the San Francisco area is opening up facilities "as soon as possible," the Marin Headlands Visitor Center and bathroom will remain closed due to a waterline that broke sometime during the shutdown. In Death Valley National Park, roads that were closed before the shutdown remain so.
  • Restoration: Areas that were healing and closed to the public -- like Muir Beach in Golden Gate -- will continue to do so.

The most convenient way to check for alerts is heading to any of the park's homepages. A red banner will appear near the top of the page giving a heads up if any are in effect. We've also created a Facebook list that you can subscribe to that makes it easy to follow the state's national park units that use the social media tool effectively.

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