Full closure at Sequoia and Kings Canyon impacts travel, business

Officials announced a full closure for both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks on Wednesday.

They were previously open with limited services during the government shutdown, but park officials are citing unsafe conditions for the full closure, including the accumulation of trash and human waste.

RELATED: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks closed due to unsafe visitor conditions

Alex Valentin and his family drove to Sequoia National Park from Los Angeles.

Aware of the government shutdown, they were hesitant about what kind of access they'd get at the park.

But they were still hopeful they'd be able to see something.

"It just sucks," Valentin said. "(We're) having a family trip, winter vacation."

"It stinks," said Corrina Garcia, of Visalia. "Like we planned our whole day around it, so you know, it's inconvenient."

The full closure of Sequoia and Kings Canyon officially started Wednesday evening.

On Thursday morning, park rangers at Ash Mountain entrance station set up signs, blocked the road, and directed drivers to turn around, sometimes offering alternate options.

RELATED: Access into Yosemite National Park limited due to government shutdown

Park officials say the full closure will likely be in effect as long as the government is shut down.

"It hurts us, it hurts everybody and it hurts the park," said Christian Lewis, who owns Buckeye Tree Lodge and Sequoia Village Inn, just outside the park. "A lose-lose unfortunately."

The closure is causing guests to cancel reservations, which isn't ideal for what is already a slow month for business.

"Ultimately it hurts the local businesses, it hurts the tourists. A lot of people coming from LA, San Fran, sure they can come next week and it's not a big deal," Lewis said. "But we have people coming from across the globe. We're talking to guests walking in the door from London, other countries, other cities in the world. And what do we tell them? 'Sorry, you can't see the big tree.'"

In the days to come, Lewis hopes local businesses and community leaders can come together and discuss how they can help provide basic services at the parks-to prevent full closures from happening again.
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