Today has been a very interesting day. Of course, here in Estes Park, Colorado, we are still recovering from the devastation caused by the flooding last month. Everyone has been doing a wonderful job getting things cleaned up and services restored, etc.
Then along comes the government shutdown.
Estes Park is known as the “Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park,” and of course with the shutdown of the government came the shutdown of the national parks. Many of the folks that come up to visit Estes are coming up here largely to visit the park. Some have been coming up for years and years, and plan their arrival to coincide with the autumn color (which, by the way, is awesome again this year!). Rocky Mountain National Park is stunning all year round, but is particularly beautiful in the fall.
I ran into a couple that was driving down the road I live on this afternoon – they had stopped to watch the elk in the meadow across the street. They told me that they came up here every year, and weren’t going to miss it this year even though all of the road closures meant they had to take a round-about way to get here. And normally they would have been driving around the park, but since it was closed they were driving around the different neighborhoods. They had a pretty good attitude, partially because they really do love the whole area, but I heard from some of the shop keepers that many of their customers were complaining loudly about the closure.
Many of the trucks that were bringing supplies into Estes Park were coming over on Trail Ridge Road, across the continental divide. But that goes through the park, and it was closed too. That forced them to come up on the only “real” route open now, and I heard from someone that lives along Highway 7 that she heard trucks going by all night in a location that is normally very quiet. That just started with the closing of the park.
Another woman told me that her 90-year-old grandmother was coming up to visit tomorrow, on a trip that she had been planning for quite some time. She had planned on taking her for a drive through the park to see the park itself along with the turning leaves there, but now she won’t be able to get in. At that age, she wasn’t sure when or if she would have an opportunity to return to the area.
And of course there are those who hike in the park regularly and the photographers, the rangers and others that work there.
It made me start thinking about the huge impact the closing has had here in Estes, and to wonder how that impact is felt in other parks throughout the country. How has the national parks closure impacted you or people you know?