Central VA's Fall Visitors Change Plans After Shutdown
It's one of the best scenic drives in the country, especially in the fall months, but the shutdown in Washington means Skyline Drive is closed. Tourists don't get to see fall colors and the shuttered park means closed coffers for the businesses that rely on that tourist traffic -including one in Greene County that's seen the federal shutdown change wedding plans.
Greene County's tourism office says the national park's shutdown is sending visitors to other communities to find places to stay and sites to see. The shutdown is forcing some fall foliage guests to scramble.
The Smiths, a Maryland couple, are settling in to their log cabin at Lydia Mountain Monday.
"Just want to take some time to decompress and enjoy the scenery," said Angel Smith.
The Smiths are celebrating their second anniversary and a baby on the way at the 122-acre Greene County retreat neighboring Shenandoah National Park.
"Anytime we're in the area, we tend to head up that way to take a short little trip. Looks like that might not be happening," said Matthew Smith.
The federal government shutdown is forcing Lydia Mountain's peak-season guests to find something else to do.
"Many of our guests come here to go hiking on the park and enjoy the drive a lot," said Tina Deane, Lydia Mountain property manager.
A wedding scheduled along Skyline Drive even found an alternative outdoor chapel at Lydia Mountain.
"We did host a wedding, kind of impromptu, on Saturday," said Tina Deane, Lydia Mountain manager.
October is Lydia Mountain's busiest month of the year. Its 24 cabins are booked by June. Deane says only one group of guests called to cancel because of the shutdown.
Deane rescheduled their stay for later this month to hopefully catch some of the fall foliage.
"We really look forward to this time of year. It's really our shot in the arm as far as business goes. To have that closed down is really disappointing to us," said Deane.
The Smiths aren't letting Congress ruin their escape.
"There's so much beauty all around the area. You don't necessarily need to go to a National Park to see it," said Angel.
But they have a message for lawmakers responsible for shutting out the scenery.
"Get it together," said Angel.
Lydia Mountain echoes that, hoping Congress ends the shutdown before it's too late for fall tourists. The Greene County visitor's center reports a noticeable drop in the number of people stopping through this past week.
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