Government Shutdown Forces Joshua Tree National Park to Close Campgrounds & Access to Yosemite National Park is Limited

Shutdown causing human waste to pile up at National Parks resulting in limited access and campsite closures

Photo from a pull out in Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley before the government shutdown. Photo Matt Niswonger

Some national parks may remain accessible to visitors during the federal government shutdown. However, access may change without notice. Please note that some parks are completely shut down. For parks that have visitor services provided by concessioners or other entities, parks may remain partially open. That said, most parks will have no restrooms, trash collection, road maintenance, etc.

Though this is a beautiful time to visit our National Parks, please plan to follow #leavenotrace and carry-it-in, carry-it-out practices. Also be respectful of trails and habitats, Emergency and rescue services will be limited or not available at all, so please understand you are entering at your own your risk.

  • Check out Friends of Joshua Tree for updates on how you might best be able to help during this time.
  • Iif you  want to help pick up trash at Yosemite, please look for the Yosemite Climbing Association red truck and white covered trailer at the Village Store parking lot to borrow grabbers, gloves, bags, and orange safety vests. Please contact us through them through their website ( if needed.

Here are updates from Joshua Tree and Yosemite National Park for the week of Jan. 1, 2019. 

Photo of trash collected at Yosemite Facelift

Trash collected during this summer’s Yosemite Facelift. Reach out to Yosemite Climbing Association for info on how you can help the park during the shutdown. Photo by Matt Niswonger

JOSHUA TREE // Park Campgrounds Closed During Government Shutdown

Photo of climber on Headstone, Joshua Tree

Climber at Joshua Tree. Photo by Bruce Willey


Park officials announced earlier this week that all campgrounds in the park will be closed effective noon on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. The park is being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity. In addition to human waste in public areas, driving off road and other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem.

Indian Cove and Black Rock campgrounds will be open for day-use only, sunrise to sunset. Additional closures include Lost Horse Mine Road due to illegal activity and Rattlesnake Canyon in order to reduce the number of search and rescue events for rangers already spread thin due to the government shutdown. Keys View Road is also closed, effective immediately.

Superintendent David Smith said, “I want to extend a sincere thanks to local businesses, volunteer groups, and tribal members who have done their best to assist in picking up litter and helping maintain campgrounds. This is no reflection on their efforts and the park is very fortunate to have a community that exhibits the kind of care and concern witnessed over the last week.” Smith also noted that most visitors are respectful of the park and the facilities within.


Access to Yosemite National Park will be Limited Along the Highway 41 Corridor Due to the Lapse in Federal Appropriations

Photo from the road in Yosemite Valley, August 2018

Yosemite Valley. Photo: Matt Niswonger

Yosemite National Park remains open, however there will be limited access to the park along the Highway 41 corridor from the South Entrance to the Badger Pass Road during the hours of highest visitation due to continuing issues with human waste and resource damage.

Park Rangers will staff a check point at the South Entrance to Yosemite National Park from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, anyone arriving at the checkpoint with a reservation for lodging or camping inside the park will be allowed to proceed. All other visitors will be asked to enter Yosemite using the Highway 140 entrance and enter the park via the El Portal Road. Local residents and guests staying in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite West, and Wawona will be permitted access to drive along Highway 41, the Wawona Road.

Visitors planning to visit the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area will be asked to enter the park via Highway 140.

Visitor services are limited due to the lapse in federal appropriations. During the government shutdown, national parks are working to remain as open and accessible to the American people as possible.

Unfortunately, the following facilities and areas inside Yosemite National Park are closed due to impacts from human waste and public safety concerns: Wawona Campground, Hodgdon Meadow Campground, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Crane Flat Snow Play Area, and Goat Meadow Snow Play Area, located just outside the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park. All park visitor centers remain closed.

All normal park rules and regulations still apply and violators will be cited. Dogs are not permitted on park trails. Dogs must be on a leash at all times and are permitted in developed areas, on sidewalks, and on bicycle paths. For more information on pet regulations, please visit

Restroom facilities are very limited throughout the park, especially along Wawona Road (Highway 41), El Portal Road (Highway 140), and Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120 West). Visitors are encouraged to stop and use restroom facilities in the gateway communities before entering the park. Visitors are also encouraged to practice leave no trace principles and please pack in and pack out all trash. Custodial services are very limited at this time.

All roads within the park are subject to chain control or temporary closures due to hazardous winter driving conditions. All motorists are required to carry tire chains, even if their car is equipped with four-wheel drive, while driving in the park during the winter months.

Additional facilities and areas may close within Yosemite National Park at any time for the health and safety of park visitors.