The effects of the government shutdown will be wide-ranging if an interim solution isn’t reached today, but Hot Springs tourism officials have emphasized most everything in the national park, such as Oaklawn Park, will operate as usual today.

“Although it is unclear how the government shutdown will affect the national park here in the city, the rest of our many attractions are up and running as usual and ready for our thousands of visitors,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs.

“There is a full Saturday card of live racing at Oaklawn, and the other things to see and do in Hot Springs are operating as normal. Oaklawn Gaming is open for business as usual.”

Also: The Clinton National Airport advises no impact on airport. TSA and other federal employees will be at work.

According to guidance distributed Friday, some national park operations in Hot Springs and everywhere else will be affected. Employees at the Clinton Presidential Library, under the National Archives, were told last week it would be closed in the event of a shutdown. Here’s that National Park guidance.

Dear colleague,

While we fully expect the government to remain open, in the event of a shutdown national parks will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures. For example, roads already open will remain open, and vault toilets/wilderness type restrooms will remain open. However, services that require staffing and maintenance such as campgrounds and full service restrooms will not be operating. Monuments and memorials in Washington DC will remain open.

Examples of services that could be open include free-standing gift shops, lodges, restaurants, or gas stations that require no assistance from park staff to operate. Assistance could include but is not limited to snow removal, unlocking gates, or other operational functions. However, if a private concessioner has arranged in advance to remove snow, trash, etc. without the assistance of park staff, they may continue operations.

Examples of services that would not be open include visitor centers, gift shops located inside visitor centers, and gas stations located on roads inside parks that are impassable due to snow accumulation, if snow removal relies on park staff.

Examples of areas that may see restricted access include some public lands, trails, and sites that are typically monitored and patrolled by staff for purposes of visitor safety and resource protection. For example, park staff may restrict access to ski or snowshoe areas if there is an avalanche risk. Additionally, sensitive cultural areas on all public lands may have restricted access to protect artifacts and objects.

We are prioritizing access to the most iconic and typically accessible areas of parks and public lands. Each park will have different plans in place. To learn more about a specific park’s plans, please check the park’s webpages at NPS.gov as well as their social media feeds. You may contact a park directly as well. Contact information is available on park webpages.

-Donald Leadbetter
Tourism Program Manager
National Park Service