Foreign tourists locked in hotel under armed guard thought they were under arrest.
Yellowstone National Park is among a number of popular destination closed by the National Park Service as a result of the scale-back.
Some tourists and a tour guide are complaining about rough handling by park rangers of tourists in the park at the time of closure.
A New Hampshire tourist, along with many foreign tourists, were in Yellowstone National Park when the “shutdown” went into effect, and were met with armed park rangers who detained the group to the extent that the foreign tourists thought they were under arrest. The rangers stopped them from taking photos, and told them they were not allowed to “recreate” while in the park.
Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures.
Instead, the Salisbury resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry and heartbroken for her country. Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1.
For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.
The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.
When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.
When the seniors exited the bus, they were not allowed to take pictures of a herd of bison:
The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos.
Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.”
The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.
“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said….
The Livingston (MT) Enterprise interviewed the Tour Guide:
The tour director, Gordon Hodgson of Utah, learned his group would not be allowed to walk on any of the boardwalks located just outside their hotel, or visit any other geyser basins in the area.
Hodgson said the group was scheduled to spend two nights at the Inn. When they got up on Tuesday morning, they headed out to see Yellowstone for the day, planning to return to the Inn for their second night’s stay later in the day. Hodgson said they headed north out of Old Faithful and pulled over to let passengers out to take photos of bison.
Hodgson said in a phone interview Monday that a ranger pulled up behind the bus and told him he would have to get everyone back on the bus — recreation in Yellowstone was not allowed.
“She told me you need to return to your hotel and stay there,” Hodgson said. “This is just Gestapo tactics. We paid a lot to get in. All these people wanted to do was take some pictures.”
Hodgson said the ranger told him he could be convicted of trespassing if he disobeyed.
I don’t think this was “Gestapo” tactics, but it was rough treatment considering people already were in the park. Since the Park Service knew some scale back in funding was coming, more orderly plans could have been made to deal with people in the park and to ensure their exit in an orderly and respectful manner.