Government Shutdown Is Filling TN State Parks - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Government Shutdown Is Filling TN State Parks

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by Adam Ghassemi

BURNS, Tenn. Boyce Howell and his family spent Friday morning packing up. They've been camping at Montgomery Bell State Park since Tuesday, but despite checking daily for a cancellation every spot, this weekend is reserved.

"We've got to get out of here before noon," Howell said. "We wanted to stay tonight and maybe Saturday night and go back Sunday and there's no room in this inn."

Their neighbor, Trent Langton, has to have his family out tomorrow even after booking ahead online.

"There were only three parks in the state where we could find a spot for three nights in a row," Langton said.

What's happening here is echoing across Tennessee and it's not just the normal October rush to enjoy the outdoors.

The government shutdown closed national parks, like the Smoky Mountains, immediately. Last week campgrounds run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shutdown. That means campers have to either cancel their plans or shift to state parks.

"We are not the federal park system. We are Tennessee State Parks and we're not impacted by the federal closures," said Tennessee State Parks Director of Park Operations Michael Robertson.

Campers who can't use federally run parks are ending up in ones run by the state. Traffic on the state's online reservation system is exploding.

"It's almost doubled the number of viewers from this time last month as to October," he said.

Robertson said people who want to camp, still can, they just may need to be flexible. They should try lesser known parks and be willing to consider 3 or 4 days instead of an entire week. Weekends are obviously a premium.

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