Fresno backpackers looking to squeeze in late-season trips to one of the three nearby national parks will have to set their packs aside for now as the first government shutdown in 17 years has closed Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks indefinitely as of Tuesday, October 1, 2013. According to ABC30 Action News, visitors currently in the parks have been given 48 hours to leave.
National Park Service websites are blank this morning, and Facebook pages and Twitter accounts are idle. Representatives from all three Fresno area parks posted today that tweets and Facebook conversations will resume when the shutdown is resolved. The US Forest Service website is also inaccessible.
Backpackers will be unable to obtain wilderness permits at this time or enter the parks via national forest trails. The only travelers allowed into the parks at this time will be those traveling to other destinations—over Tioga Pass, for example. Trailheads and trails are closed, although backpackers already in the backcountry will be permitted to remain there until their permits expire.
Autumn is a slower time for backpacking, as many streams and other water sources on popular trails are now dry, complicating travel. Many park facilities such as backpackers campgrounds and high Sierra camps have also closed for the season. Until parking restrictions in Yosemite go into effect and snowfall begins in earnest, however, savvy backpackers can still enjoy epic trips in the Sierra's high country at this time of year.
This year's early autumn trips will have to wait until the budget impasse in Congress is resolved. The window for enjoying the high country in autumn closes quickly and unpredictably in the Sierra because winter arrives early. Enthusiastic backpackers looking to pull one more adventure out of the 2013 season will surely be awaiting news that the shutdown is over.
ABC30 Action News, Fresno, CA
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