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Shutdown leaves Rocky Mountain Park roads unplowed or closed

Posted at 1:51 PM, Dec 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-22 19:29:45-05

ESTES PARK, Colo. — Visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park are very limited this weekend. Many people were faced with road closures and limited park access visiting the park on Saturday as the federal government shutdown continues.

The park's gates were open on Saturday but staffing was cut back and roads were not being cleared of new snow.

Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson says roads that were passable at the time of the shutdown would remain open unless conditions worsened.

“I would say it’s a little frustrating coming up here,” said park visitor Nichol Wolverton. “But I think it’s important that everyone still does their part and still lives their lives and doesn’t let these issues slow us down.”

Wolverton is one of the many visitors that parked their car on the side of the road and made the most of their visit.

“It’s not so bad because I do live very close, I have a lot of access to it,” said park visitor Ben Lerner. “But I can totally imagine some people going out of their way to come here after preparing and being excited and they’re probably very frustrated.”

That frustration being felt by families who made the trip from across the county.

“It is a little bit frustrating,” said park visitor Rohan Janwadkar. “We came all the way out here from Florida just to see the park itself and to hear that it was closed down was a little like I said a bummer but we tried to make the most of what we could.”

Many of the visitors centers were closed with locked doors and no park staff working inside. Rangers stood at various road blocks, turning people around with no end in sight yet on how long the government shutdown will last.

“This is the park of the people. It should always be open, always,” said Lerner.

Rocky Mountain National Park is the fourth most popular national park in the country, drawing 4.4 million visitors in 2017. It lies 65 miles (105 kilometers) from downtown Denver.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.