Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks reopen during government shutdown

Hikers at the Senate cluster of giant sequoias along Sequoia National Park’s Congress Trail in 2016.
Hikers at the Senate cluster of giant sequoias along Sequoia National Park’s Congress Trail in 2016. rparsell@sacbee.com

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks reopened to the public Friday after a recent closure due to the government shutdown.

Officials previously closed the park indefinitely Dec. 31, citing unsafe conditions. The reopening was announced in a news release late Friday afternoon.

“Some visitor services, including campgrounds and entrance stations, will reopen using revenue generated by recreation fees,” park spokesman Sintia Kawasaki-Yee wrote. “All areas that are typically open this time of year, including campgrounds, restrooms, trails, and roads, are open, except visitor centers. These areas will remain open unless winter conditions or other factors require otherwise.”

Other services may be limited or unavailable during the government shutdown, including ranger talks and programs.

The open areas include Giant Forest and General Sherman Tree, Grant Grove and General Grant Tree, Foothills and Hospital Rock, Potwisha and Azalea Campgrounds, and Big Stump and Wolverton snow play areas.

“National Park Service officials have determined that by using Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement funds to immediately bring back park maintenance and law enforcement crews to plow roads, clean restrooms, remove trash, and provide health and safety operations, the park will be able to restore accessibility to the park for visitors while ensuring health and safety.”

Entrance stations will be open to provide safety information, but entrance fees and camping fees will not be collected at this time.

“We greatly appreciate the generous contributions of our park partners and surrounding communities who have helped in many ways during this lapse in appropriations,” said acting park superintendent Christy Brigham. “We are happy to see our park clean and with excited visitors already enjoying their national parks.”

Park visitors can call 559-565-3341 for current closures, road and weather conditions. Tire chains may be required at any time, and winter conditions are expected in the coming days.

Additional information: Sequoia Parks Conservancy, sequoiaparksconservancy.org; concession and lodging information, visitsequoia.com; and updates about the government shutdown, doi.gov/shutdown.

Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge

Carmen George is a features and news reporter for The Fresno Bee. Her stories have been recognized with Best of the West, George F. Gruner, and McClatchy President’s awards, and nine first or second place awards from the California News Publishers Association. She has a passion for sharing people’s stories to highlight issues and promote greater understanding.