Shutdown ruins vacations, hurts local economies

By Felicia Fonseca

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Oct. 4 2013 9:17 a.m. MDT

Julie Jaeger and her friend are leaving California on Friday for what would have been a trip to Zion, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon's North Rim, Canyonlands and Mesa Verde national parks. They've renamed their vacation the "magical mystery tour," as they search for state parks and interesting towns to visit along the way. They still hope the federal government resumes operations and they can salvage part of their original itinerary.

BUSINESSES TAKE HIT

Rafting outfitters, fishing guides, Jeep companies, hotels and restaurants are hurting without the 715,000 people who spend about $76 million a day visiting the national park system.

About 90 percent of the business at Phoenix-based Across Arizona Tours is for the Grand Canyon, says company co-founder Leonardo Gem.

"It's like closing Macy's the day after Thanksgiving," he says.

At Lees Ferry Anglers, which runs fishing trips in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in northern Arizona, employees are busy calling customers to cancel trips scheduled this week.

"It is devastating," says employee Kaila Bruner. "You can't really function normally. We just have to depend on the lodging and the through traffic to stay open."

Greg Bryan, mayor of the tiny town of Tusayan outside the Grand Canyon entrance, manages a hotel in town and says he is downsizing staff as fewer and fewer people come through. The town should be bustling with tourists sharing pictures of sunsets over the South Rim, of mule rides down the park's trails and massive expanses of geology.

It looks more like a ghost town these days.

Associated Press Writers Brian Skoloff in Tusayan, Ariz., Paul Foy in Salt Lake City, Manuel Valdes in Seattle and Tammy Webber in Yosemite National Park, Calif., contributed to this report

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