Navajo Parks Open Despite Shutdown; Hoping for Revenue Bump
Tourists are welcome. That’s what Navajo Nation park officials are saying in light of the news that the U.S. government shutdown is forcing National parks, including the Grand Canyon, to close. In fact, the only days the parks are not open are on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.
Park officials said in a news release that all Navajo tribal parks, which include, Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park, Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Four Corners Monument, Bowl Canyon Recreation Area, and Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park are open.
“We still have a full force open at our parks,” said Roberta John, a senior economic development specialist for the Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation Depatment. “No one was laid off as a result of the federal shutdown.”
Meanwhile, about 2,200 people who work at the Grand Canyon National Park and its hotels have been furloughed as a result of the government slim down, according to FoxNews.com.
John explained that because Navajo parks are a sovereign nation, wholly distinct from the federal government, the shutdown isn’t impacting them. ‘We operate our own tribal parks, own rules, policies and regulations,’ she said. “The parks set their own entrance fees and policies on filming as well.” Recently, the Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp, was filmed in Monument Valley, a Navajo National Park, which is still open despite the shutdown.
While the national parks are closed, Navajo parks are hoping more business will come their way. John said their tour guides noticed that chartered busses, the ones that usually bypass Little Colorado River on their way to the Grand Canyon, recently started to take the exit to their park. “[The shutdown] is hurting national parks, but a blessing for us,” John said.
The park's office has also started to receive more phone calls. “People [are] having to change their itineraries,” John said. She received a call from a staffer working for a Pennsylvania Congressman looking to help a constituent find a place to get married, since the Grand Canyon would be closed on their wedding day. “I recommended Monument Valley,” John said. “It’s a wonderful place.”