Estes Park, Colorado, is at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park. Typically, it’s been the sort of town buoyed, economically speaking, by summer tourist rushes. But in recent years, it’s emerged as a year-round destination as more people discover the beauty and joy of the Rockies in winter, and spend money in Estes Park’s motels, restaurants, and grocery stores. The shutdown, however, is threatening the toehold the town has on a sustainable tourism-based economy.
Climber and writer Kelly Cordes recently spent time in Estes Park chatting with locals about what the shutdown has meant for them, and wrote a beautiful op-ed piece for the New York Times about his experience. As you’d imagine, it’s been a shocking blow. It’s not just the absence of tourists, either. Park service employees aren’t there to spend money, so businesses that have come to rely on a healthy and functioning federal presence in the park are suffering. If feels as if the place is returning to what it was like decades ago, when the town seemed to board itself up to wait out the winter. All because of political squabbling that has nothing whatsoever to do with Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, or the people who live there.
Cordes’ essay can be read here.