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National parks in NM mostly closed during shutdown

Park roads, lookouts and trails at Carlsbad Caverns, the only full-fledged national park in New Mexico, are accessible to visitors, according to the park’s website. But the visitor center, the cavern itself, and rest rooms are closed. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

SANTA FE – The partial federal government shutdown means national parks and monuments in New Mexico are mostly closed.

National parks and monuments are managed by the National Park Service, a federal agency that falls under the U.S. Department of the Interior, one of nine federal agencies impacted by the shutdown.

On its website, the National Park Service warns potential visitors not to expect parks and monuments to be fully open. There’s an alert that states that some national parks may remain accessible to visitors. “However, access may change without notice,” it says.

“For most parks, there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance,” the website says.

Park roads, lookouts and trails at Carlsbad Caverns, the only full-fledged national park in New Mexico, are accessible to visitors, according to the park’s website. But the visitor center, the cavern itself, and rest rooms are closed. There is also no trash collection or roads maintenance. Visitors enter at their own risk. “Emergency and rescue services will be limited,” the website says.

The visitor center and rest rooms are also closed at El Malpais National Monument near Grants, but most trails are open. El Morro National Monument headquartered in Ramah is closed, and though the campground remains open without services such as trash collection and rest rooms. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is closed but rest rooms and potable water are still available at the visitor center.

The link to Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque directs viewers to the monument’s Facebook page, which says there are no visitor services available. However, city of Albuquerque’s open space staff is keeping Boca Negra Canyon open, and Piedras Maracadas and Rinconada canyons also are open. And while the vehicle access gate for the Volcanoes Day Use Area is closed, visitors can still park in an overflow parking area and hike into the area. The rest rooms there and at Rinconada Canyon will remain open.

Among the parks closed altogether “for the safety of visitors and park resources” are Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Bandelier National Monument and Pecos National Historical Park.

While White Sands National Monument is closed, that hasn’t stopped some people from taking in the white gypsum sand dunes.

The Alamogordo Daily News reported that earlier this week “hundreds of unauthorized visitors” entered the park by breaching a fence along U.S. 70. The newspaper said that the state Department of Transportation put up flashing “No Parking” signs along the road because people were parking and crossing the highway on foot to get to the sand dunes.

Some state governments have been using their own money to help keep national parks open, including the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty. Leftover funds are keeping the museums that are part of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. open for now, but funding is expected to run out by Jan. 2.

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