After shutdown national parks, rec areas continue to reopen

Red Cliffs Recreation Area, Utah, 2011 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – With the partial government shutdown coming to an end with the passage of a temporary funding bill by the Congress and the president’s subsequently signing it into law, national parks, monuments and related areas across the country are opening back up.

Southern Utah

Red Cliffs Recreation Area – The Bureau of Land Management St. George Field Office has confirmed that Red Cliffs Recreation Area is in the process of reopening and should be fully open and operational by Friday or Saturday. The BLM St. George Field Office can be contacted at telephone 435-688-3200.

Pine Valley Ranger District – Part of the Dixie National Forest, the Pine Valley Ranger District has also reopened, though parts may remain shut down for the season. Prospective visitors can learn more by visiting the Dixie National Forest website or by telephoning 435-652-3100.

National parks, monuments and recreation areas – Utah was able to open it’s “Mighty Five” national parks (Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion), Natural Bridges and Cedar Breaks national monument, and Glen Canyon (Lake Powell) National Recreation Area, which includes Rainbow Bridge National Monument, on Oct. 11 thanks to a deal struck between the state and federal government allowing the use of state funds to reopen the park.

Utah sent $1.67 million to the Department of the Interior in order to fund the national parks and monuments through Oct. 21. Herbert characterized this initial amount sent to the federal government as a “loan.” While state funding was accepted by the government, it also retained control of the parks and monuments via the National Park Service.

During a specially session Wednesday the state legislature passed a bill to authorize the state to spend nearly $7 million to keep the national areas open through Dec. 1. The partial government shutdown ended later that day and a spokesman for Gov. Gary Herbert’s office said the law will remain on the books and just won’t be enacted until the next government shutdown.

Colorado, Arizona, South Dakota and New York also made deals with the federal government to open certain national parks within their respective states using state funds.

As for being paid back, Congress will ultimately have to approve repayment to the state. In a statement Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch said he is co-sponsoring a bill that, if passed, will see the states reimbursed, for funding the parks, within 90 days of the national parks officially opening on the states’ funding.

“Our beautiful parks are one of the key economic drivers in our state, and Gov. Herbert did the right thing in working out an agreement with the Department of the Interior,” Hatch said. “It’s only fair and right for the state to be reimbursed for picking up the federal government’s slack. I hope Majority Leader Reid will bring this bill up for a vote soon so Utah taxpayers can be reimbursed.”

Other national monuments in the area of Southern Utah include Hovenweep and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

The Arizona Strip

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument – The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument has resumed normal operations following a 16-day partial shutdown. All facilities have fully reopened and staff have returned to work.

“We are happy to be back to work and once again welcome everybody to enjoy the wide variety of outdoor activities the monument offers,” Superintendent Rosie Pepito said. “As a proud member of this community, we realize the economic impact of closing the monument for 16 days has been difficult on our gateway communities, local businesses, neighbors and park partners and we will work to reschedule events to lessen the impacts.”

Visit Parashant staff at the second annual Gold Butte Days Festival in Mesquite, Nev., on Friday Oct. 18 from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to learn more about the monument.

Pipe Springs National Monument – This monument lies in Arizona, just over the border not far from Kanab.

The Grand Canyon

The GrandCanyon National Park continues to welcome visitors from across the United States and the globe.

South Rim – Visitors can stop in at any of the South Rim Visitor Center’s for information. The Grand Canyon Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Kolb Studio, Verkamp’s Visitor Center, and Yavapai Geology Museum are open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Desert View Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and the Tusayan Museum and Ruin is open between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All concessions services on the South Rim are fully operational in accordance with the season. Xanterra South Rim LLC, and Delaware North Companies facilities are open including the Canyon Village Market and Marketplace Deli, Maswick and Yavapai Cafeterias, Bright Angel Lodge, the Arizona Room and El Tovar Dining Room. Visitors with hotel reservations should contact Xanterra South Rim directly at 888-297-2757 with inquiries about existing or new reservations. Bright Angel Bikes and Café is open for bicycle rentals and grab-and-go food service. Shuttle bus service around the South Rim is operating on its’ normal routes and schedules.

Mather Campground is open daily and reservations can be made at  www.recreation.gov  or 877-444-6777.

North Rim – Visitors to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park will find limited services through the end of the season. The visitor center is open daily Oct. 16-31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The North Rim Campground is open through Oct. 31.

The Grand Canyon Lodge operated by Forever Resorts is now closed for the season.  After Oct. 31, the North Rim will be open for day use through Dec. 1 unless snow closes Highway 67 leading into the park prior to Dec. 1.

Visitors should be prepared for winter driving and travel conditions when planning a trip to the North Rim and are encouraged to call Arizona Highway Information at 888-411-7623 in advance to check on the status of Highway 67. Visitors to the area are reminded that Highway 89A remains open year-round.

For a complete listing of activities, services, hours of operation and additional trip planning information, visit the park’s website telephone the park’s main information line at 928-638-7888. For Escalante Lodging click here.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Red Cliffs Recreation Area, Utah, 2011 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News
Red Cliffs Recreation Area, Utah, 2011 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

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