Update Oct. 14, 2013: The Grand Canyon South Rim, Zion and limited areas of other parks have re-opened. Read more here.
Las Vegas is a fantasy land, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune from the realities of the government shutdown. In fact, Vegas is home to several federal parks and recreation offerings, including Red Rock National Conservation Area, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. We’re also very close to the Grand Canyon, Zion and more.
Some tours are being cancelled as a direct result of federal employees being sent home. Others remain open because they are state-run parks or are funded through alternative sources. If you have a question about any tour you have purchased or are planning to purchase, contact the company you purchased the tickets from.
If you purchased your tour from VEGAS.com, call (866) 983-4279 to check on your tour status.
While the situation is fluid and could change at any minute, this is how things stand as of right now:
Hoover Dam (Open)
The Hoover Dam Visitor’s Center is open since it is funded by customer ticket sales rather than the federal budget. The 30-minute guided Powerplant Tours are still operating, but other tours are not.
Grand Canyon (West Rim open, South Rim closed)
Although the South Rim is closed, aerial tours above the canyon are still operating.
“Despite the National Park closure at the South Rim, guests can still view Grand Canyon South Rim from above via helicopter,” said Bryan Kroten, vice president of marketing for Maverick Airlines. “The shutdown only affects the National Park and does not affect flights above the canyon.”
The West Rim remains open since it is managed by the Hualapai Tribe and is not federal land. “That means you can still explore the breathtaking Skywalk, saddle up for a horseback ride at Hualapai Ranch or take any available tour of the West Rim.
“It is business as usual [at the West Rim],” explains Kroten, adding, “We have been working with our guests to move them from South Rim experiences to Grand Canyon West experiences.”
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (Closed)
Although you could technically drive along Interstate 159 between Blue Diamond and Charleston and enjoy some beautiful scenery, you won’t be able to enter and drive along the 13-mile scenic loop that leads you to the Visitor’s Center, recreation areas or trails.
Valley of Fire (Open)
If you’re really in need of a red rock fix, I suggest Valley of Fire, which is a state park and therefore remains open. Located 50 miles north of the city, Valley of Fire features fiery red sandstone rock formations, Native American sketches, springs and some of the southwest’s most amazing scenery.
Mount Charleston (Visitor’s center closed; lodge and hotel are open)
The Visitor’s Center in Kyle Canyon was already closed today for inventory. Updated details on federal closures for visitors to the Spring Mountains will be made once they are available.
Lake Mead (Closed)
The marinas and Visitor’s Center at Lake Mead are closed. Lake Mead Cruises will continue to run their Desert Princess tours today, but the company doesn’t know about future dates at this time.
Death Valley (Closed)
Death Valley, including Scotty’s Castle and Furnace Creek, are closed but you can still drive through Death Valley and take photos at scenic points on your way to California. However, since Death Valley is closed, facilities are closed as well. Make sure your car is well stocked.
Zion National Park is closed. Guests, including tours, are being turned around at the entrance gate.