List of National Parks that are Open During the Shutdown

As most people are well aware at this point, the vast majority of the parks within the national park system are closed due to the government shutdown. A few states have worked with the government and they have decided to reopened a few parks with state funds. It’s important to note that just because a state has decided to reopen some parks within their state, that doesn’t mean that all of the national parks sites within their state are open. The number of sites open is still only a small percentage of the 401 sites that make up the national park system. Below is the current list of sites that are currently open, along with the dates that they are scheduled to remain open:


grand canyon national park arizona

Grand Canyon National Park (currently scheduled to be open from October 12 to 18)


rocky mountain national park

Rocky Mountain National Park (currently scheduled to be open from October 11 to 20)

New York

statue of liberty

Statue of Liberty National Monument (currently scheduled to be open from October 12 to 18)

North Carolina / Tennessee

national park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (currently scheduled to be open from October 16 to 20)

South Dakota

mount rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial (currently scheduled to be open from October 14 to 23)


Arches National Park

All Utah parks are currently scheduled to be open from October 11 – 20

Arches National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Natural Bridges National Monument
Zion National Park

Sex in National Parks: Where People Are Having It Most

It seems that nature lovers are doing more than admiring nature at our national parks, at least according to a press release survey from which claims that 1 in 5 travelers have enjoyed sex on America’s public lands. Zion National Park was crowned the top place where couples have done more than explore nature based on the survey of 8,500 traveling singles.

Brandon Wade, Founder & CEO of the website that conducted the survey notes in the press release that “Mother Nature inspires people to shed their inhibitions and give in to their primal urges. At a National Park, there are lots of secluded areas off the beaten path, and it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a quiet, romantic spot for two people to be alone together.”

While the one in five number may at first appear rather high, it’s important to remember that there are some national parks that have hotel lodging and camping within the park. Below are the top 10 parks where people are having sex according to the survey:

Number 1: Zion (Utah)

Zion national park
Photo: Jeffrey Strain

Number 2: Dry Tortugas (Florida)

Dry Tortugas national park
Photo: Richard Lopez

Number 3: Redwood (California)

redwood national park
Photo: Jeffrey Strain

Number 4: Mammoth Cave (Kentucky)

Mammoth Cave national park
Photo: Jeff Kubina

Number 5: Arches (Utah)

Arches national park
Photo: Jeffrey Strain

Number 6: American Samoa (American Samoa)

American Samoa national park
Photo: eutrophication&hypoxia

Number 7: Biscayne (Florida)

Biscayne national park
Photo: Bruce Tuten

Number 8:Big Bend (Texas)

Big Bend national park
Photo: Robert Hensley

Number 9: Congaree (South Carolina)

Congaree national park
Photo: Hunter Desportes

Number 10: Great Smoky Mountains (Tennessee)

Great Smoky Mountains national park
Photo: Carl Wycoff

Canyon Overlook Trail Zion National Park

One of my favorite (relatively) easy hikes (there is some steepness at the beginning and those really scared of heights won’t like the bridge — sections of the trail have rails to keep you from accidentally wandering too close to the steep edges) at Zion National Park is one that too many people miss due to its location. The Canyon Overlook trailhead is at the east end of the tunnel after leaving Zion Valley (there is a small parking lot at the end of the tunnel where you can park). Since it isn’t in Zion Valley where most people instinctively head and spend all their time, they miss this little gem which definitely is worth making the time to do.

The Canyon Overlook hike is only 1 mile round trip and gives a wonderful view of Zion Valley. For those who want to see a grand view of part of Zion Valley, but don’t want to (or can’t) tackle the more rigorous hikes like Observation Point, this will give a spectacular view. The trail winds along Pine Canyon Creek with the Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel on the opposite side. The hike ends at a railed observation overlook with lower Zion Canyon below (with the famous Zion road switchbacks) and the Beehives, West Temple, East Temple, Towers of the Virgin and the Streaked Wall across the valley. Here are a few photo so you can judge for yourself:

canyon overlook trail

canyon overlook trail railing

canyon overlook trail bridge

canyon overlook trail cove

canyon overlook trail hike zion

canyon overlook trail hike

canyon overlook trail zion national park

canyon overlook trail zion valley

Visiting Zion National Park

Submitted by: sylvia

Impressions: It felt like we had traveled to the bottom of the Grand Canyon as we weaved in and out to the bottom!

Tips: Be prepared to be WOW’d!

Must-sees: Definitely experience the whole drive through Zion National Park.

Sylvia also had this to say: It was my first time out west ( virginian here) and the one thing that I had not counted on was how fast the elevations changed. I knew it was high elevations, I did not know you could go from 2,000 to 8,000 in a few minutes!

Best Day Hike in Zion National Park: Observation Point Trail

Submitted by: Terry Tyson, A Hiking Fool and his Photo Log

Impressions: The Grand Canyon may touch your heart with its massive grandeur, but Zion National Park touches your soul. Unless you venture beyond the rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s likely to remain as humbling and impressive as the beautiful prom queen you admired, but never dated in high school. But Zion demands a personal connection because there is no other way to experience the canyon other than to be physically immersed in its beauty and wonder.

“Zion” in Hebrew, refers to a place of refuge, a holy sanctuary. It’s easy to understand why this special place was named Zion for it does provide you with a sense of spiritual solace.

There are many “classic” hikes within the canyon, each with their own special characteristics and charms. But for me, the best of the “classic” hikes is to Observation Point. It’s likely the most difficult of the classics, but the payoff for your efforts are many.

Tips: Park your car and take the shuttle. The park shuttle will take you from the front gate to the end of the canyon and back. The cost of the shuttle is included with your entrance fee. It’s handy, comfortable and allows you to enjoy the place without worrying about traffic.

The town shuttle (aka “Springdale Shuttle”) is also handy. It will take you from the front gate to the end of town, dropping you off at convenient locations near eateries, shops and hotels. It’s also a bargain because it’s free.

Both shuttles run from early April to the end of October.

Oh yeah, don’t forget to bring a lot of water on any hike you do in the park. Natural water sources are unreliable and may not be safe to drink.

Must-sees: If you even of moderate stamina, don’t miss Observation Point. The hike is longer and higher than its more well-known cousin, Angels Landing, but provides more incredible visual treats. Echo Canyon, a hanging, hidden canyon about 1/3 of the way up is a stunning surprise. It’s mentioned sometimes only in passing in some guides, but the first time you encounter it will be one of the reasons you’ll want to return.

Because it’s a more challenging hike, you’re likely to see fewer folks on the trail. But be prepared to gain elevation fast as the trail presents not only the entire canyon to view, but also the less seen East Mesa portion of the park.

When you do reach Observation Point, take a moment to look down upon the Big Bend of the Virgin River, Angels Landing and the entrance to The Narrows from this lofty perch. Bring a map so you can identify all of the landmarks within the view.

Echo Canyon; Observation Point Trail

East Mesa from Observation Point Trail

View from the top: Observation Point

Terry Tyson also had this to say: Zion gets busy during the summer, despite the heat. The best time to visit is in the spring or fall. If you’re wanting to hike in The Narrows, it’s best to wait until late summer or early fall when the water level is lowest.

Riverside Walk at Zion National Park

Although a Grand Canyon rafting trip officially begins when you hit the water at Lees Ferry, it unofficially begins when you make your way to Las Vegas. There are options to fly from Las Vagas to Lees Ferry, but I would highly recommend renting a car and driving.

While it’s about a 5 to 6 hour drive from Las Vegas to Lees Ferry, the route allows you to drive through Zion National Park. Planning an extra day or two to explore and play in Zion before a Grand Canyon rafting trip would be an excellent way to begin the entire vacation (while it’s possible to do it after the rafting trip as well, you will have a lot more energy before the trip).

Even if you don’t have the time to give yourself a full day at Zion National Park, it’s still possible to do a short hike while passing through (what we ended up doing). A hike along the Riverside Walk path that takes you to The Narrows (Temple of Sinawava stop) is ideal in this situation since it also requires a trip on the shuttle bus which allows you to see the entire park and gives a quick guided overview of Zion.

The Riverside Walk is a relatively easy 2 mile round trip (about 1.5 hours) on a maintained path that is suitable for wheelchairs and strollers and gives some wonderful views of the North Fork Virgin River:

Riverside Walk in Zion National Park

The end of the Riverside Walk path is at the North Fork Virgin River where the beginning of the The Narrows hike begins. This is a much more strenuous hike through the river and requires water shoes (these can be rented at a number of shops just outside the park’s south entrance). You can hike the first few miles of this without a permit, but the entire 16 mile hike up The Narrows does require a permit.

The Narrows at Zion National Park

Zion National Park Drop-In Volunteer Program

Zion National Park will begin offering its weekly drop-in volunteer program tomorrow, June 10, 2011 and will continue every Friday through the end of November. Volunteers are the unsung heroes of National Parks. If you love visiting National Parks, consider volunteering to help out in any way that you can.

View of Zion National Park

The Zion National Park drop-in volunteer program is open to all. Anyone visiting Zion, as well as local residents, will have the opportunity to help with the many projects which help keep the park clean and beautiful. It’s a wonderful way to show your support for and to help preserve Zion National Park.

Those that are interested in volunteering should gather at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center Shuttle Stop at 9:00 a.m. each Friday. The volunteer projects will last approximately two to three hours and do not require prior knowledge or training. Examples of volunteer projects would include litter removal, minor trail maintenance, and the management of invasive plants. If you decide to volunteer, be sure to bring water, a hat, sunscreen and good walking shoes. You do not need to bring tools. Both gloves and tools will be supplied if necessary.

Everyone is welcome to participate in the Zion drop-in volunteer program. There is no registration required for individuals — just show up on time. For groups larger than 10 people who would like to volunteer, you do need to pre-register. Minors under the age of 18 must be joined by an adult. For any questions, more information or to pre-register a group, contact the Zion volunteer coordinator at 435-772-0184.

You may also be interested in other Zion Volunteer Programs

Zion National Park Photo Contest 2011

If you happen to be travelling to Zion National Park this month (or travelled there earlier this year), don’t forget to submit any photos you took to the Zion National Park photo contest. The 2010 winner was Virgin River Narrows by David Lenhert:

Virgina Rivers Narrows at Zion National Park 2010 Photo winner

The 2011 Zion National Park photo contest is open to amateur photographers with the photos being judged by what “will make us and others want to visit Zion National Park.” The deadline for submitting photos is July 4, 2011. All entries must be print photos with both black and white and color photos acceptable (no photos on disc or through email will be accepted). It’s important to remember to write your name, address and email on the back of each photo submitted. There is no limit to the number of entries as you can submit. Winning photos will be announced on or before July 24, 2011. Photos should be mailed to:

East Zion Tourism Council
Photo Contest
East Zion
Mount Carmel, UT 84755

For more information on this contest, you can visit the photo contest page of the East Zion Tourism Council.