SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The partial shutdown of the federal government has shuttered Utah's five national parks, but the closures have brought floods of visitors to state parks, officials said.
Utah's 43 state parks often are overshadowed by their national counterparts, including the iconic Arches National Park.
"We have trouble sometimes dragging people away from the national parks," Utah State Parks director Fred Hayes said. "They seem to think that is all there is to see."
But tourists wanting to take in the state's natural beauty this week are now flocking to places like Dead Horse Point State Park, and park officials are reporting record numbers of visitors.
Hayes told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1a4250R ) that the record numbers of visitors will not last, but officials hope it helps raise the profile of state parks and will lead to more visitors in the long run.
"Folks will go back and talk about their vacation with friends, and people will expect them to say 'our trip was ruined'," he said. "We hope they respond and say 'we saw some really cool stuff and you should include it on your Utah itinerary when you go'. We know their trip this week was memorable, but we hope state parks made it a positive memory."
Dead Horse Point State Park normally is busy this time of year, and park officials were expecting a bump because of a shutdown. But the increase in visitors was "pretty overwhelming," said park manager Megan Blackwelder.
Blackwelder said Dead Horse Point State Park, which is adjacent to Canyonlands National Park, saw a record number of cars and tourist buses in its parking lot this week.
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