Shutdown Alternatives: Where to Go When National Parks & Sites are Closed

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After recently experiencing a government shutdown, you may be wondering where you can go when parks and sites are closed. Here are eight alternatives across the country that your family may enjoy instead.

Arizona: Grand Canyon – Oak Creek Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the many parks closed due to the shutdown, but all of Arizona’s State Parks are open, including Slide Rock State Park and Red Rock State Park. If you wanted to get close to the Grand Canyon, try Oak Creek Canyon instead, which has great canyon views of its own.

South Dakota: Mount Rushmore – Crazy Horse Memorial

Mount Rushmore is not the only place to see an impressive rock carving. While you cannot catch the presidents’ profiles, you can visit Crazy Horse Memorial, just 16 miles away, which is still in progress and is an equally impressive rock carving. Instead of Badlands National Park, you can also enjoy Custer State Park for wildlife and hiking.

Hawaii: Volcanoes – Lava Tours

It’s tough to be on the Big Island, so close to the only national park centered around volcanoes. Just because you cannot drive through and hike in the park doesn’t mean you cannot get a glimpse of the lava and craters. Helicopter tours continue to operate, flying above the craters and near the lava flows, while boat tours bring you close to the park’s coastline, where lava continues to run into the ocean.

California: Yosemite – Big Sur

If you hoped to get a glimpse of a iconic geyer, you are out of luck. However, you can still enjoy some of the most impressive scenery California has to offer by driving along the Pacific Coast Highway and passing through Big Sur. The drive hugs the cliffs with eye-popping views, as well as plenty of state beaches and hiking trails still open to the public.

Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountains – Graveyard Fields, N.C.

The Great Smoky Mountains border Tennessee and North Carolina, and although many flock to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas to check out the Smokies, consider crossing the border into North Carolina and nearby Asheville. Here, you’ll find a cozy and artistic town, the Biltmore Estate, and Graveyard Fields, a hiking area in the Blue Ridge Mountain that look out at the Smokies. You’ll also experience the same great fall foliage.

Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Museums – Local Museums

Sure, the Smithsonian museums were free but now that they are closed, there are alternatives. Mount Vernon, in nearby Virginia, remains open and gives kids the chance to see the home of our first president and founding father, George Washington. If it is art you seek, the Phillips Collection was actually founded 20 years before the National Gallery and has many modern art pieces on display. The National Geographic Museum is a great alternative to the National History Museum, as well.

Statue of Liberty – Sightseeing Cruises

The ferries to the Statue of Liberty may have stopped running and visitors cannot climb Lady Liberty’s stairs, but you can still get closest to the statue via a sightseeing cruise. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises depart daily at 10:45 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. for hour-long cruises throughout the month.

Maine: Acadia – Bar Harbor

Acadia National Park features a rugged, rocky coastline amidst towering pines and while it is closed, the shutdown cannot close Bar Harbor, the town located within the park. You can still enjoy the coastline, the seaside town, and gorgeous views, as well as a charming New England town.

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