As occurred in 1995, when the government shuts down, most of its recreation areas have to close, from the national parks to the Washington Monument to the Smithsonian museums.
But when most Federal recreation is closed, potentially during a busy spring break week next week, one set of government parks will be open — US Forest Service recreation areas operated by private companies under concession contract. Because private operators collect all the gate fees and pay all the expenses themselves without any government appropriations or labor, these concession campgrounds and day use areas do not have to close when the Treasury runs out of money.
This is something to think about with state parks in nearly all 50 states facing closures during local budget battles. Privatization of park operation shields the public from budget shenanigans and the usual game of chicken legislators play with parks during the appropriations process.