Since the partial government shutdown began most of the park rangers and service people who maintain the park have been out of work but the park itself has remained open. Today, that changed when the Park Service announced that, because of some illegal activity, the park would be closed starting Thursday:
Joshua Tree National Park will temporarily close effective 8 am on Thursday, January 10, to allow park staff to address sanitation, safety, and resource protection issues in the park that have arisen during the lapse in appropriations. Park officials plan to restore accessibility to the park in addition to limited basic services in the coming days…
While the vast majority of those who visit Joshua Tree National Park do so in a responsible manner, there have been incidents of new roads being created by motorists and the destruction of Joshua trees in recent days that have precipitated the closure. Law enforcement rangers will continue to patrol the park and enforce the closure until park staff complete the necessary cleanup and park protection measures.
As it happens, I was off part of last week and spent 3 days in Joshua Tree with my family. There were still plenty of people there viewing the various sites within the park, but I didn’t witness any mounds of trash or messes in the bathrooms, some of which were left open despite the shutdown. Yesterday someone writing for Adventure Sports Network described her visit to the park over the weekend. It seems she also didn’t see any signs of destructive behavior: