CRATER LAKE, Ore. — After a deal was reached late Wednesday night in Washington D.C. to end the government shutdown and reopen national parks, Crater Lake opened Thursday to more than 300 visitors enjoying a beautiful day and a great view of Wizard Island.
Paul and Michelle Nelson came from southern California and had Crater Lake circled on their vacation’s itinerary but had to scramble to make last minute changes once the shutdown began.
“So we only had about a week to replan because the shutdown was on the 1st and we were leaving on the 8th, so it’s kind of like ‘Um.. now what?’” said Michelle Nelson.
Their plans shifted to only include state parks in Oregon and California, but late Wednesday night, they got the news they were hoping for.
“Before we came up here, we wanted to really make sure, so we did call the visitor’s center and they said ‘Yes, come on up we’re open,’ so we drove up from northern California near Redding where we stayed last night,” said Paul Nelson.
The park’s staff also kept a close eye on Washington. 78 park employees were furloughed during the shutdown and around 9 p.m. Wednesday night, the word came down the park would reopen in the morning. While the gates are now open, park officials said it was a busy day and there is some catching up to do clearing snow off Rim Drive.
“There was some that accumulated and we didn’t have the crews to go out and clear that because we were very, very short staffed, only 10 people stayed on throughout the shutdown,” said Crater Lake National Park Public Information Officer, Marsha McCabe.
McCabe said they hope to reopen the west Rim Drive on Friday.