FRONT ROYAL — At the Front Royal entrance to Shenandoah National Park, a sign warns that visitor centers and visitor services are closed due to a government shutdown.
Inside the park on Thursday morning, though, a number of people were enjoying the mountains and the free admission. While facilities inside the park were closed, the trails have remained open.
Awais Paracha, who was at the park with his friend, Sahil Gangele, said that he wasn't disappointed to see that the facilities at Skyline National Park were closed.
"We got a freebie out of it!" Paracha said.
Meanwhile, Julia Sullivan, of Falls Church, said that she appreciated at least having trails open at the park. She added that she had recently gone to Great Falls Park with a friend, with a similar result.
"Everything was closed up there, too," Sullivan said.
While Sullivan was just traveling to the park for a day, two visitors from England, Poppy Elliott and Xander Richards, were in the middle of a trip from Toronto, Ontario to Tennessee and were hoping to be able to use facilities at Shenandoah National Park.
The last few days for the two have been full of government shutdown stories.
On Wednesday, the two went to Washington, D.C. to find everything closed. (The Smithsonian was among the attractions that was forced to shut down that day after period during which it had managed to stay open.)
"Not the best day," Elliott said.
The two also visited the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests recently.
"All of the campsites were closed off and everything, so we just had to set up in an open car park and hope that no park rangers came along to move us on," Richards said.
Like the Shenandoah National Park, facilities at the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are closed during the shutdown.
A voicemail message at the forests' Lee Ranger District station in Edinburg states that "all district recreation areas are closed, including campgrounds and OHV trails."
Visiting from England, the two have a van with a bed in the back, unsure of where they can and can't park it for the night. (Campgrounds are closed at the park.)
"We don't want to set up at one of the viewpoints for the night or something and then have the park ranger come along at 10 p.m. and say you can't be here," Richards said.
Still, despite the confusion surrounding camping at national park sites, the two said that a significant number of people have been visiting and enjoying the parks.