CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK, Ore. -- Crater Lake National Park is now open for visitors for the first time in more than a month and staff couldn’t be happier to be back at work. It was a long 35 days for many Crater Lake staff.
“We are very excited to be back and doing the jobs that we love and serving the American public. It means a lot to us," said the Park’s Public Information Officer Marsha McCabe. "[During a shutdown] certainly you're concerned about… your park and the resources you usually take care of."
Staff spent Saturday and Sunday getting the park clean and in working order for today's opening. While the government was shutdown, visitors were allowed to get to the lake early on but the changed shortly after the shutdown started.
"We had some concerns not long after the shutdown occurred. We were trying to keep a part of the park open but we had to close it at Highway 62 because of trash issues and issues with there not being restrooms available for folks," added McCabe.
And there is still some work that needs to get done. Once the snow melts, there may be more cleaning to do. Answering the phone poses another challenge. Employees said they won't be picking that up at all Monday. They're too busy checking all 300 or so voicemails and returning those calls first. So if you do have a question and you're not in that queue, you may just need to pop into the visitor's center.
Sheri and David Hopson are from Florida, visiting family in Klamath Falls. They've been dying to get to Crater Lake in the winter. They were among some of the first to visit since the shutdown ended.
"We had heard from so many people that you've got to do that and we did," the Hopson’s said.
They thought since the government reopened Friday, the next day would be the day to go.
"Folks were able to jump on things this weekend and our plow operators were able to make good progress in getting the road to Rim Village open and the parking lots up there and the restrooms operating," McCabe added.
But those two days were reserved for cleaning and getting the park back in shape.
"We were blocked out, barricaded out and so then we said that Monday we'd made the effort to come back again and here we are," David Hopson said.
After waiting a few days, they finally go to see the lake Monday.
"Astounding, it's gorgeous. Absolutely beautiful. Everybody should come. It is well worth it. I would recommend everybody to come. I would recommend this to anyone, to whomever," the Hopson’s said.
McCabe advises if you do decide to go to Crater Lake that you’re prepared to deal with snowy roads.