It’s all up in the air on how the new administration’s environmental policies and hiring freezes will affect tourism to U.S. national parks.
In late January, Badlands National Park took to Twitter by posting and then deleting several facts about climate change that contradict the Trump administration’s stance; and Redwood and State Parks did the same. Death Valley National Park shared a photo of a Japanese-American who interned at the park during World War II in regard to Trump’s immigration ban.
The White House responded by ordering a communications blackout of the National Parks Service (NPS), and called for studies or data from the Environmental Protection Agency to be reviewed by political appointees before being released to the public. The Badlands National Park was also ordered to take down the tweets. This move quickly led to the creation of an unofficial Twitter account for NPS, dubbed “AltUSNatParkService,” which already has 87,700 followers.
Although the NPS hiring freeze will still allow the organization to fill seasonal national park jobs that open up during summertime, several national parks are already feeling the effects. Add in the latest: talks about opening up federal lands for drilling, and there’s no doubt that it’s a prime time to visit some of our national parks, while the gettin’s good.
Joshua Tree National Park
More than 2.5 million people visited Joshua Tree National Park in 2016, a 60 percent increase from just two years before, and officials are working twice to three times as hard to maintain the park. For now, groups can visit the park easily from Palm Springs, Calif. In less than an hour, attendees will be hiking in this national park that straddles both the Mojave and Colorado deserts.
Independence National Historical Park
Because of severe staffing shortages, seven historic sites—Franklin Printing Office, Declaration House, Fragment Museum, New Hall Military Museum, Todd House, Bishop White House and Thaddeus Kosciuszko House—in Philadelphia’s Independence National Historic Park will shutdown in the coming months. Luckily, groups can still visit the historic park’s famous Independence Hall and Liberty Bell and take the Constitutional Walking Tour to explore what is dubbed “America’s most historic square mile.”
Yellowstone National Park
The state of Wyoming is said to be the one most affected by the Trump administration’s new fracking rules. As such, now’s the time more than ever to visit the nation’s first national park, located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Attendees can visit famous sites such as Old Faithful Geyser and Yellowstone Lake, one of the largest high-elevation lakes in North America.