A government shutdown will impact communities across the country. Without any money to operate, all national parks, including the Blue Ridge Parkway, will be forced to close.
The National Park Service says it will leave all gates along the Parkway open regardless of what happens; however, all visitors centers, campgrounds, stores, and The Peaks of Otter Lodge & Restaurant will have to shut down until the government is funded again.
The Peaks of Otter Lodge is run by a private company called Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, but, because they're considered a concession of the National Park Service, they cannot operate the lodge if NPS is not operating.
The threat of a shutdown could not have come at a worse time for the tourist hot spot. The lodge has only been open since July, after its previous operator closed up shop in 2012, and just last Friday, Delaware North held a grand re-opening celebration there.
October is also one of the busiest times for the Blue Ridge Parkway as visitors come in droves to take in the stunning fall colors and views it offers.
Representatives with Delaware North declined an on-camera interview Monday, but the company released a written statement, saying, "We are still hopeful the situation will be resolved and we are monitoring it closely. The national parks which Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts operate remain fully open today. In the event of closures, we will provide more information regarding our plans."
Dennis East and Ila Arthur made the drive from Danville to Peaks of Otter Monday to walk around and eat lunch at the restaurant. They say it's one of their favorite places to come, and it's unfortunate politicians in Washington would allow it to close down.
"It's the most beautiful time of the year," East said. "The leaves are going to be changing very soon. And now people are going to miss it."
According to a contingency plan released by the U.S. Department of the Interior, hotel and campground guests at all national parks will be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park property if a shutdown occurs.