Government shutdown 2013: Shenandoah National Park closed
WARREN COUNTY, Va, (WJLA) - Taking photos in front of the Front Royal sign is about as close as you can get to the Shenandoah National Park nowadays.
The 80,000-acre facility and its most prominent attraction - Skyline Drive - are closed because of the government shutdown.
“It makes me pretty angry with our officials,” says tourist Sandra West.
The Wests are turning their camper around and are heading home to Pennsylvania, but not before sounding off on the government crisis that's impacting their trip to a Virginia landmark.
“We own these parks,” West says. “We pay taxes and we should be allowed to actually have access to everything that is national.”
Twenty-three percent of the park's annual visitors visit it in the fall. That translates to 250,000 people leaf-peeping and spending money at places like the Apple House.
Apple House owner George McIntyre says this is the make or break time of the year for tourism related businesses in the area.
He anticipates taking as much as a 20 percent hit to his bottom line.
“Tourism is the largest industry in Warren County and it will affect every shop owner, very family, every grocery store,” McIntye says.
At the county tourism center, they're dealing with a lot of disappoint from tourists from both the U.S. and overseas.
“It's just like a few years ago when we had a hurricane that came at this time of year and it just ruined the incentive for people to come visit us,” says tourism volunteer Don LaFever.
And it’s not just the Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive that are impacted. The 700-mile Appalachian Trail is also shutdown, leaving hikers from Maine to Georgia out in the cold.