Sleeping Bear Dunes - Photo from 1995 in the Detroit Free Press
MARQUETTE, Mich. (Ellen Creager, Detroit Free Press travel writer) - Michigan's tourist gems will be shuttered tomorrow if Congress can't approve a federal budget today.
"I'm sure some visitors will be disappointed," said Tom Ulrich, deputy superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula. If forced to close Tuesday, the park will be reduced to a skeleton staff and the popular Pierce Stocking scenic drive swept of visitors, then padlocked.
Isle Royale National Park, which still has visitors hiking and camping in the far reaches of remote park in the middle of Lake Superior, was due to close Oct. 20. A federal shutdown tomorrow would speed that up, said Betsy Rossini, assistant superintendent.
"We hoped it would not really happen, but it looks like it's going to," she said this morning.
Pictured Rocks in Munising also would close to visitors just as fall color hits its peak, a spokeswoman confirmed today. It also still has visitors camping and hiking in the far reaches of the park along Lake Superior.
For travelers, a government shutdown would bring headaches and worries. For now, passport applications will still be processed by the Department of State, and airport security and operations will remain staffed.
But a shutdown means that tomorrow every federal park and federal tourist attraction from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon to Smithsonian museums would be closed.
Ulrich hoped Congress could still find a way to avoid a shutdown.
"We are still hopeful," he said Monday. "We want to keep the place open."