Visitors return to Zion National Park, neighboring businesses
Kansas City residents Barry Kindsfather and Amy Nash said Utah should be commended for stepping up to reopen the parks as they rode the shuttle up Zion Canyon in the early morning darkness.
The couple arrived in Springdale last Wednesday and was planning to leave until they heard rumors about the gates opening at Zion. They walked through the park Friday afternoon and were delighted with the sights and sounds of elk along a trail. When they returned Saturday for more hiking, a flock of wild turkeys greeted them.
Kindsfather called closing the parks a "little overly dramatic. It seems like it was just mostly a political play to make it more obvious that the government's shutdown."
The politics of it all wasn't lost on John and Pat Collins, who traveled from England to visit several national parks in the West.
"It doesn't look good for your government, really, does it, whether you're Republican or Democrat," said Pat Collins while stopping for a photo on the Emerald Pools trail.
The cheerful seniors didn't dwell on that, though they were disappointed to find out a couple of days before leaving England that the national parks were closed. Like many travelers who couldn't change their itineraries at the last minute, they made the best of it by visiting state parks.
"They all have a wow factor," Pat Collins said.
Now that the tourists are back, Springdale's business community is trying to piece together its tattered economy.
Since the government shutdown Oct. 1, tourist-dependent shops and restaurants were just hanging on.
Gubler estimates sales at Canyon Market plummeted as much as 40 percent.
"We will not get back what we've lost because of this shutdown," he said. "It will be busier, but not as busy as it would have been because there are too many people who have canceled and were scared off."
Though a lot of those plans will stay canceled, some motels now can add "no" to their "vacancy" signs. Blondie's Diner had a decent night Friday for the first time all month.
"It was drastic here. It was a ghost town," said owner Shelley Cox.
Cox said her business was a tenth of what it usually is for this time of year, and she blames the 535 members of Congress who still draw a paycheck.
"We can't make that up," she said of her losses. "We can't send them a bill."
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