The Senate will vote Monday afternoon to end a three-day government shutdown. If the vote passes, the government and its agencies — including many popular tourist attractions — will reopen and remain funded through Feb. 8. However, if the vote does not pass, it is unclear what tourists should expect.
In an effort to placate the public during the shutdown, the Trump administration encouraged national parks to continue operating without full staffing.
“In the event of a shutdown, National Parks and other public lands will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures,” Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift told the Washington Post. “Visitors who come to our nation’s capital will find war memorials and open-air parks open to the public.” However, anything that requires staffing and maintenance — campgrounds, restrooms or concessions — are not operating.
The National Parks Conservation Association estimates that about one-third of the country’s 417 national parks will close during the shutdown. But the list of closed attractions is particular: For example, it includes the Library of Congress, but not the Grand Canyon.
The Smithsonian Institute's 17 museums and zoo will remain open to visitors on Monday, using funds available from last year. However, if the shutdown continues, it is unclear how long the museums can maintain operations.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced over the weekend that the state would take over and operate the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, beginning Monday. New York will spend an estimated $65,000 per day to operate the site, however the “revenue gained more than offsets the costs,” according to Associated Press.
Arizona picked up the tab to keep the Grand Canyon fully operational. “The Grand Canyon will not close on our watch. Period,” Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement. “If Washington, D.C. won’t function, Arizona will.”
Travelers should call national parks and museums to inquire about their individual policies during the shutdown. Individual parks make their own policies on what’s safe to remain open for tourism when there’s no staff.