No government pay means no bathroom breaks for visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are tangible impacts of the partial government shutdown in the North Carolina mountains.
WLOS reported that major sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway are closed. And, as of Wednesday, the three visitor centers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, are closed.
Many people Wednesday were caught off guard.
“This is outrageous. I don’t understand why this president decides to shut down all government systems, including bathrooms, knowing that Mexico will not pay for this wall. They have said that multiple times,” said Eric Bynes, who was visiting from Georgia.
“When politicians clash with each other, actually, it’s people who pay the price, usually, not them,” said Mohammed Fayed, who was visiting with his family from Florida.
Visitors can get into the park. Trails and roads that are seasonally open remain accessible, but emergency and rescue services are limited. Campgrounds at Cades Cove and Smokemont are not staffed.
One man, about to begin a job in the park this weekend, isn’t worried. He said the shutdown will be over soon.
“To all the people who work for the park systems, just chill out and enjoy yourself for right now and it will be over with,” said Shelton Corbin.
But, in the meantime, there’s no trash collection, including along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“I think it’s really up to private citizens at this point to clean up,” said Lara Christy, who is volunteering to clean up litter.
Restrooms and visitor centers in the park are closed, but nature is open.
“At least the elk are out,” said Emmanuel Shakov, of New York.
Shakov and others are practicing patience.
“It’s just going to take time. You’re just going to have to wait,” said Bynes.