CHARLOTTE, NC- The scenic views and fall foliage along the Blue Ridge Parkway usually draw more than 70,000 visitors a day in October, but the government shutdown has shut doors and sent people packing.
“Looks to me like there should be a lot more people up here,” said Mike Rohlen, a South Charlotte resident.
The Rohlen family took their chances on a weekend trip to Linville Falls. The parking lots are open, but the attractions are not.
“It’s bound to have an economic affect. The tourism in North Carolina has to be impacted for sure,” said Cathy Rohlen, a South Park resident.
The 252-mile road is still open but visitor centers, attractions, businesses and dozens of campgrounds are closed.
Restrooms are also closed, so Michelle Pournaris had to search miles for an open one.
“Honestly, since it hasn’t effected my life before this, I just forgot about it until I needed it,” said Pournaris.
About 200 national park service employees are furloughed, causing cuts to services like trash pick up. Families say they’ve seen overflowing trash cans all weekend.
According to the national park service, 43 employees are still on duty to provide law enforcement, security and emergency services along the park. But some visitors say they haven’t seen park rangers or emergency personnel all weekend.
It’s an added frustration as congress allows the shutdown to linger.
“They are so far removed from the people that they don’t really understand that the decisions they make directly impact everybody. It’s just time for them to get it together,” said Rohlen.