October 17, 2013
Shenandoah National Park has been reopened to visitors. The park has been closed since October 1 because of the government shutdown.
Employees returned to work to usher in visitors and tourists happy to see the gates to the park were lifted.
"We got lucky that the park's back open," said visitor Diane Oyler.
Oyler and her husband made the trip from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, to celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary.
The trip was scheduled well before the shutdown, so the park's temporary closure threw their plans for a loop.
"We were sort of up in the air with what we were going to do exactly because we didn't know," said Oyler. "But it worked out. We were hoping they would come around."
Shaked Paz also spent Thursday taking in the fall foliage at the park following a trip to Monticello.
"It's beautiful, perfect, utopia," said Paz.
Paz, a Brooklyn, New York, resident, brought to guests from his native Israel to soak up the autumn sights.
"We don't have anything like this [in Israel]. We don't have the fall, we don't have the colors, we don't have the scenery, the mountains -- nothing like that," said Paz.
The fact the country limited access to its own countryside doesn't sit well with him.
"It's a shame. This is part of the country," said Paz. "We just came from Jefferson's house where we saw that the country belongs to the people and the government belongs to the people…it doesn't belong to Congress, the democrats or the republicans. It belongs to us, the citizens of this country, and you can't just shut it down."
Park rangers say October is typically the park's most-visited month, drawing in about half of its annual revenue on a normal year.