As a United States Government shutdown looms large, plans are now in place to close all National Parks across the country on October 1, 2013. The closures will impact all recreational opportunities at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona, including the cancellation of all river trips.
According to Grand Canyon National Park officials, river runners who have already launched downstream into Grand Canyon National Park will be able to complete their river trip.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area officials, who operate Lee’s Ferry, note that should the government shutdown go into effect, the closure of Lee’s Ferry will start with a “soft closure” beginning at 8:00 am, with a hard closure from noon on, after which no river trips will be allowed to launch.
Kansas river runner Hilary Esry won the river permit lottery last year for an October 7, 2013 launch date after first becoming interested in running Grand Canyon twenty years ago. “We have friends flying in from as far away as Alaska on non-refundable tickets and have spent over $17,000 so far in NPS fees, food and equipment rental. I have a contract with the Federal Government allowing me to launch, and so far, I have not been contacted from the National Park Service at all about a pending closure of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon” she said. “We expect to be on our own and except for the mandatory orientation at Lee’s Ferry, we do not expect to interface with anyone from the NPS. I can’t tell you how nerve wracking this is for our trip.”
The Grand Canyon National Park web site states there are sixteen river trips scheduled to launch in the first seven days of October. Thirteen of those trips are public trips while three are concession guided river trips. There are sixty-one river trips scheduled for the month of October, twelve of which are concessions trips and forty-nine are public trips.
Officials at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area state that roadwork on the Lee’s Ferry road will continue, as the funds for that project are non-appropriated funds. River runners who have parked their vehicles at the long term parking lot at Lee’s Ferry will be allowed to retrieve their vehicles but this will require a law enforcement escort.
Fishing at Lee’s Ferry, including from the bank and by boat, both public and guided, will not be allowed. The smooth water concessions river trips from the base of Glen Canyon Dam downstream to Lee’s Ferry will also cease operation.