Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are back open, visitors excited

KINGS CANYON, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are back open using revenue generated by recreation fees, according to the National Parks Service.

All areas that are typically open this time of year, including campgrounds, restrooms, trails, and roads, are open.

Outdoor areas of the park will remain accessible. Some facilities including visitor centers will remain closed. Entrance stations will be open to provide safety information to arriving visitors, but entrance fees and camping fees will not be collected.

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.

"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."

On Thursday morning several visitors stopped by Kings Canyon and said they are excited to see the park open.

"We planned a trip long before the government shutdown and we wanted to see some giant sequoias and that's why we drove all the way up here," Richard Finley said.

Kelly Dillon was with his family visiting from Michigan.

He said they were determined to see the park, even if it was closed.

"I probably would have walked as far as I could possibly walk if the park was closed. I still wanted to see some of the big trees," said Dillon.

A newlywed couple from the U.K. was on their honeymoon and the park was part of their trip.

"We've traveled from the UK and this was one of the main things we came to see. So it would have been a wasted trip really," David Stringer explained.

The serene views at Grant Grove did not disappoint.

"It's amazing, just the size of the trees. I have never seen anything like it," said Michelle Stringer, who is David's wife.

Concessions inside the park will be open, including Wuksachi Lodge, Kojn Muir Lodge, Grant Grove Cabin and Restaurant, Lodgepole and retail shops.

The National Parks Services said while basic visitor services have been restored, other services may be limited or unavailable during the lapse in appropriations, including visitor centers, ranger talks and programs.

These areas will remain open unless winter conditions or other factors require otherwise: 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.

Sequoia Parks Conservancy said when the shutdown ends they will work with the National Park Service to determine their needs to help support park projects immediately.

In a release the conservancy said several people have asked how they can help. The conservancy explained the most effective way to help is to make a donation, which will provide Sequoia and Kings Canyon with much-needed resources that they will put to use just as soon as the shutdown comes to an end.
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