Tourist flock to Joshua Tree National Park despite government shutdown

JOSHUA TREE, Calif.- – Numerous tourist from all across the country and around the world flocked to Joshua Tree National Park to spend their Christmas Eve. Most were shocked when they arrived and learned that park resources were unavailable because of the government shutdown.  

“It’s crazy we drove all the way out here, went to the visitor center and it was just closed and we didn’t know what to do,” said Ashton & Andrea Daniel from Northern California.

“It is a little disappointing that this basic service can’t be maintained, we were gonna go to the visitor center and get our national park passport stamped,” said Chris & Katie Jennings from San Diego. 

Cars are still able to enter the park, but with no rangers working the entrance booth, the park is not collecting the standard $30 entrance fee per vehicle, a financial hit for the park during a normally very busy week.

Some visitors said they made their plans months or even a year in advance. Many expressed their disappointment and frustration that the government shutdown has trickled down into their holiday plans.

“I saw a group of people here from Europe who were really in shock that everything is just shut down because the government’s not working and they can’t even get a map and just don’t know what to do,” Ashton & Andrea Daniel said.

Lucas Morondallador, who is visiting from Northern Italy, told News Channel 3 he was surprised by the reach of the shutdown.

“I think it’s crazy that just one small decision can impact every state in America in this wide range of different activities,” Morondallador said.

Yutong Yan, who traveled with her family from Singapore, was worried about finding her way around the park. 

“I can’t find any maps of this park, because this is my first time visiting here the only thing I can rely on is the GPS” Yan said.

Many also expressed concerns over safety, since there was no way to find out the conditions.

When asked about how they feel not to have access to maps or rangers, one family said; “I don’t think I should be going in there right now when I don’t know the conditions”

Even with all the issues at the park, some said they were just grateful the beautiful California park is open and accessible.

“I just want to give a shout out to the folks at Joshua Tree who are taking a great response and keeping the gates open and they’re allowing the people to enjoy what should be our right as Americans, wide open spaces and freedom,” said Stephanie Cooper, Park Visitor 

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