If you are reading this, chances are you are affected by, or at least well aware of, the recent shutdown of the U.S. Federal Government. If you are an enthusiast of the outdoors, nature, history or recreation, you are probably wondering how the closure of the National Parks Service will effect plans you may have. This article, while geared toward residents of the Los Angeles area, is intended to help residents throughout the U.S. understand which governing bodies are responsible for their local recreation areas and what their options are for continuing to enjoy the outdoors.
Southern California has two national parks: Joshua Tree and the Channel Islands. Both are closed until further notice, with one exception: Island Packers, a boat transportation company from Ventura is still offering guided nature tours to the portion of Santa Cruz Island that is run by the Nature Conservancy (not the National Park Service.)
The National Forests - Angeles, Los Padres, San Bernardino and Cleveland - are available for hiking. No facilities (including restrooms, visitor centers and campsites) are available but most of the trailheads are available for day use. Certain areas, such as popular Chantry Flats (trailhead for Sturtevant Falls, Mt. Wilson and more) are unavailable, but state highways that go through national forests (such as 33 through the Los Padres, 2 through the Angeles, 38 though the San Bernardino and the 74 through Cleveland) are open, thus trailheads are accessible. Adventure Passes are still required and will be enforced.
The Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area, according to their Facebook page, is shut down, but not all of the land in that area is federally managed. While the Backbone Trail is part of the National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains are also home to several state parks. Landmarks such as the "M*A*S*H" hike in Malibu Creek State Park and Eagle Rock in Topanga State Park are still accessible, as is Charmlee Wilderness Park, run by the City of Malibu.
Throughout the L.A. area (and most major U.S. metropolitan areas), there are many outdoor spaces run by state, city and local government. L.A. residents will still have access to Griffith Park, home of the famous Hollywood Sign and Bronson Cave (aka the Batcave); to popular Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park near Thousand Oaks and to the extensive Orange County parks system, to name just a few destinations.
It seems pretty safe to say that Americans across the political spectrum are hoping that the shutdown will soon come to an end. Until it does, there are still many recreational opportunities to be enjoyed, and the areas that are currently inaccessible will hopefully be apprecaited even more once they reopen.