Shutdown Is Bad News for Leaf Peepers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The federal government shutdown could not have come at a worse time for leaf peepers. Some of the country's national parks -- now closed indefinitely -- are considered the best places for viewing fall foliage.

Visitors looking for updates on the parks' foliage cannot even access the websites of the National Park Service.

In Maine, state park rangers are reporting that fall colors are already reaching peak conditions. This weekend is perfect for leaf peeping, and weather is expected to cooperate, with temperatures in the high 60s. But Acadia National Park, which offers the most spectacular views of the foliage from the top of Cadillac Mountain, will not be the place to be.

As an alternative, Maine's Office of Tourism is offering visitors the option of enjoying fall colors through water-based cruises, kayak tours and scenic air tours.

Acadia National Park, Maine

One of the bests spots in the Midwest for leaf peepers is Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, where fall foliage is approaching its most colorful time. Each day in October, the park's Towpath Trail alone hosts an average of 1,650 visitors, and many visitors have long made plans to travel through the park on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad -- but trains are not running because of the shutdown.

Against the background of the Grand Teton mountain range in northwestern Wyoming, aspens and cottonwoods are also gradually reaching their peak colors, but there are no current pictures to view. Grand Teton National Park's Facebook page, which has stopped giving updates and posting photos of the park's foliage, are inundated with comments from disappointed leaf peepers.

In Virginia, where forests are still mostly green, leaf peepers are hopeful the government shutdown will end soon enough to make viewing of fall colors possible in Shenandoah National Park. The park is expected to show peak colors during mid- to late October. Until the park reopens, however, visitors will be unable to drive along Virginia's popular Skyline Drive to take in the fall scenes overlooking the mountains at the park.

Although national parks are closed and vehicles cannot go through the gates, visitors may be able to find ways to enter either by foot or bike. But Andrew Young, Travelzoo's ( TZOO) editorial director for North America, advises against it.

"It is not a good idea to plan an excursion inside a national park at the moment," Young says. "Facilities such as restrooms are closed and there are no park rangers to come to your aid should anything go wrong."

Young suggests using major roads or highways to get a peek at fall foliage within national parks. New Hampshire's Kancamangus Highway, for example, is a scenic road that winds 26.5 miles through the White Mountain National Forest.

"This stretch of N.H. Route 112 is dotted with some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Northeast, including towering mountains and cascading waterfalls," Young says. "So even if the facilities at White Mountain National Forest are not accessible, visitors can still enjoy the fall colors." State parks, which were not affected by the shutdown, are another option.

The government shutdown is costing the national parks all over the country approximately $450,000 per day in lost revenue from fees collected at entry stations and fees paid for in-park activities such as cave tours, boat rides and camping. The National Park System hosts more than 282 million visitors per year and more than 715,000 people per day in October.

-- Written by Marilen Cawad in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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