Closed For Business


The questions at work started trickling in a few days ago, and by last night it was a flood: “Will you close if the government shuts down on Tuesday?” Normally I’m not one for following politics closely, but when it has such a direct impact on my next two weeks I pay attention.

Cedar Pass Lodge is managed by a concessionaire company and not the NPS, but the buildings are all owned by the government and on park property and thus, yes, will be closed. As of 8:30 this morning Badlands National Park wasn’t barricaded off yet but we were told by the rangers that it would be. Our GM at the Lodge was going to open the store and restaurant in the morning for a bit whether the shutdown happened or not – we have guests staying in the cabins and folks in the campground and it would be wrong to not give them a shot at one last meal, especially when the next nearest restaurant is over 30 miles away and there is no grilling, campfires, or open flames of any sort allowed within the park.

While the restaurant and gift shop will have to be closed today unless congress comes to an agreement soon, people staying in the cabins and campground have 48 hours from the time of shutdown to leave the park. We’ll need to give refunds to everyone who had a reservation with us, the gift shop merchandise needs to be inventoried and put into storage, and it saddens me to think how much perishable food in the restaurant is going to go to waste with this early closure.

Well, not all of the park is going to be closed. There’s a 5-6 mile stretch of state road that goes through the park that is a major thoroughfare, it cannot be shut down. But the rangers will be barricading off all the trail heads and overlooks along it.

How does all of this effect me? Not as much as it could have. Our season at the Badlands was already near it’s end thankfully, visitors have been tapering off since school started and the weather started turning colder. The Lodge’s normal last day is Oct. 15th so it’s only two weeks early. My last contracted day was the 15th, so I would have been leaving at the end of the season but not hanging around to do all the closing up afterward. If congress can’t get their heads out of their you-know-whats, I’ll still probably be hanging around until the 15th and getting paid (again, I’m not working for the government directly so I’ll still get paid) to help prepare everything for the winter. Us concession employees will still be allowed in the park to do what we need to do even after the 48 hours is up for the public, but it’s going to be very empty and strange.

I feel bad for people working at other parks though, like Big Bend, who’s season is just starting. And I also feel bad for vacationers who used their precious paid days off to come spend time in the parks and now have nowhere to go. I was telling people all day yesterday that Badlands, Rushmore, and Wind and Jewel caves will all be closed, but that they can go to Custer State Park and the Crazy Horse monument since neither of those are federal. I’m happy to hear that the military and essential personnel are still going to be getting paid and that social security and medicare checks for October will still be going out, but that still leaves a lot of people who aren’t getting paid. I guess right now I’m pretty lucky that I wasn’t working directly for the Park Service.

Today is usually a day off, but I’ll be stopping in at the Lodge at lunchtime to eat and see what’s going on. If help is needed closing things down, I’ll probably stay. I might put up another post before the normally scheduled one on Friday if events warrant it. We live in interesting times.

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  1. Steve on October 4, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Did you get hit with the blizzard that they had in the Black Hills?

    • Becky on October 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      Funny you should mention that Steve…

  2. Dawn on October 4, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Glad you get to keep working, and that you can help them close down. Very very sad for all the people on vacations who have to regroup. Seems a huge waste. Seems stupid too, in DC to put guards at the monuments that are open 24 hours so that no one can walk through them…can’t be any more money to guard them closed then guard them open.
    Dawn recently posted..Reflections on truck safetyMy Profile

    • Becky on October 4, 2013 at 6:45 pm

      One would think Dawn! Some of the rangers here still need to work too – to try to keep everyone out. Which I’ve written about more today.

  3. Todd on October 2, 2013 at 10:10 am

    It will be interesting, (disappointing) to see how much this blunder ends up costing us. Closing & reopening National Parks & monuments can’t be cheap. Furloughing federal employee’s & the overtime it will create is just another reflection of how our representatives have lost touch with reality & have no idea of what it means to actually work for a living.
    Sorry for the political rant.
    Enjoy the fall weather in the West & safe travels.

    • Becky on October 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      The vast majority of the public (along with me) seems to agree with you Todd.

      As for fall weather, I’ve enjoyed the about…3 weeks of it I’ve had after the 100 degree temperatures the first week and a half of September were over, but I’m not sure how much more I’ll be getting. Badlands has a Winter Storm Watch from Friday morning until Saturday morning with snow in the forecast. Time to break out the winter clothes. πŸ˜›

  4. Tom Hopkins on October 2, 2013 at 8:06 am

    I enjoy you posts and like you am sad about the
    Politics that seems so askew with reality.
    You might suggest to the restaurant they
    Donate the perishables to a homeless shelter
    Or maybe Indian Reservations some are fairly
    Close. Good luck on your future travels.


    • Becky on October 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Heya Tom, thanks for commenting. Yeah we’ll see about the food. Our GM decided that if congress passes a bill to fund the parks by tomorrow morning we’ll re-open so we’re holding on to stuff for now. After today’s news headlines though it seems very unlikely that the shutdown will be over by morning.

  5. John Hussey on October 2, 2013 at 6:11 am

    It seems unnecessary to close the national parks because they are actually income producing and not just income using like most other non-revenue producing areas of the government. I just read an article that the Grand Canyon national park takes in about $450,000.00 per day. If the “government” was a “business” the national parks would stay open.

    • Becky on October 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      Yeah, it seems odd to me too John. And we still need to have a park ranger driving around keeping people from parking illegally (and dangerously might I add) alongside the road and walking into the overlooks.

  6. Ingrid on October 1, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I’m happy we managed to visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks before Oct. 1st. Glad to hear this hasn’t impacted you negatively. May we live in interesting times πŸ˜‰
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    • Becky on October 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      Yeah, nice that the timing worked out like it did Ingrid! And fortunately my next gig isn’t at a National Park. πŸ˜›

  7. Kim on October 1, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    I thought about you when I heard the news this morning. Glad you aren’t out any $ for something so out of your control.

    • Becky on October 1, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      Yeah, makes me glad I didn’t get a seasonal position with the NPS, haha. I’m sorry to hear that your trip is delayed, I hope things get sorted soon.

  8. Richard Myers on October 1, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Hi Becky,

    Glad you are largely unaffected by the shutdown. I am saddened that all of the people with vacation plans will be affected. I was planning on a trip to Gettysburg, PA in the Casita to end the season, but may change that to Burlington, VT.

    This is a big country with lots to see, but our national parks are the jewels in the crown.

    Safe Travels,


    • Becky on October 1, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      Yeah. We had a bus of foreign tourists pull in who didn’t speak much English. How do you explain to them what happened? They got angry like it was our fault. Last time I drove past the campground in the afternoon there was just two lonely looking RVs left in a sea of empty spots. There’s something sad about an empty campground.

      I hope things open back up before your trip so you can still go where you were planning to go. As far as the Lodge goes, if congress passes the budget by end of the day tomorrow we’ll re-open on Thurs for the rest of our short season. If not, we’ll just close early. There will be enough work for me to do to stay busy either way.

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