UPDATED Oct. 12, 2013: Videocast included: Barriers removed, gate opens, visitors come, Ruby’s Inn resort general manager gives welcome and forecast for the remainder of the season.
GARFIELD COUNTY – Bryce Canyon National Park opened Friday afternoon after 10 days of being closed to the public as a result of the shutdown of the federal government. Cars lined up for nearly two miles as eager visitors waited for the gates to open up.
One visitor said he had been in line for nearly four hours waiting to get into the park. There were tour buses and everything, he said, and once the park rangers removed the barricades at the park entrance at 3 p.m., people began honking their car horns and cheering.
“We’re relieved we can get back to business as normal and that we can make our customers happy, because that is what we are in the business of doing,” said Lance Syrett, the general manager of Best Western Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City.
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Videocast by Shane Brinkerhoff, production by Michael Flynn, St. George News
Syrett said the last 10 days have been frustrating because of the shutdown, especially when having to tell people they couldn’t enter the park due to the shutdown, guests who had been planning for a longtime to see the national park.
Now that Bryce is reopen, Syrett said there’s a concentrated effort taking place over social media and news outlets to bring people back.
“Just the park being open is going to make a huge difference to our business and businesses in the area,” Syrett said.
Most park facilities were reopened to the public on Friday, including viewpoints, campgrounds, and scenic drives. Some hiking trails that had been covered by rockslides during the shutdown will be inaccessible until the park staff has a chance to clear them of debris. Normal park operations will begin Saturday.
Motels and cabins are also taking reservations and, at this time, have many vacancies. The Lodge dining room will open Saturday along with the Campers Store.
Campsite reservations for Oct. 12 and beyond for the park will also be honored.
One Ruby’s Inn employee said that while business is slowly beginning to pick up – Bryce Canyon having been open for only a few hours at this point, he said – “Everyone is much happier.”
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
- Historical picture book celebrates a century of Ruby’s Inn, Bryce Canyon legacy
- Utah’s national parks reopen
- Shutdown: National parks, monuments slated to reopen Saturday
- Shutdown: Feds to allow states to open parks
- Shutdown: Southern Utah continues assessing options for national parks; Herbert wants negotiation
- Perspective: Shutdown; Who is willing to pay the price?
- Letter to the Editor: Shutdown; can’t have your cake, eat it too – demanding parks stay open when closure hits home
- Shutdown: ‘Paralysis in Washington’ causes counties to ask governor for aid
- Perspectives: To make our live as difficult as they can
- Shutdown: ‘Occupy Zion’ protesters defy national park gates
- Shutdown: Visitors ignore closure order, Grand Canyon National Park reacts with closure of Highway 64
- Shutdown impacts Springdale, Washington County tourism
- Bryce Canyon businesses say ‘it’s hurting bad;’ impact of government shutdown, alternatives for tourists – Includes alternatives for tourists
- Shutdown: Zion National park closes, what else is affected? – Includes alternatives for tourists
- Utah congressmen speak to government shutdown
Ed. note: Technical difficulties arose with a videocast posted earlier this evening. It will be re-posted separately when available.
Micheal Flynn and Shane Brinkhoff contributed to this story.
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