What's open in Hawaii during the shutdown?

Haleakala National Park on Maui is remaining open with a reduced staff during the partial federal shutdown.
Haleakala National Park on Maui is remaining open with a reduced staff during the partial federal shutdown.

The federal budget impasse and government shutdown have lingered into the new year, and with each passing day more services, facilities and sites are being shuttered.

Hawaii, with numerous military facilities and other federal sites, including multiple national parks, was ranked by consumer site Wallet Hub as the fourth most impacted state by the shutdown based on five metrics including each state's share of federal jobs, federal contract dollars per capita and dependence on federal aid and benefits.

While the shutdown is certainly having an impact on Hawaii, including its tourism infrastructure and attractions, many federal facilities are still open. 

Here's an island-by-island breakdown of what to expect if you are headed to the Aloha State during the shutdown. The status of individual attractions can change from day to day, so it is advised to call ahead or check the website for the most up-to-date information. 


The Hawaii Tourism Authority and a collection of nonprofit organizations joined forces to provide funds to keep the USS Arizona Memorial visitor center open during the shutdown. The sunken battleship serves as a memorial for the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, and thousands of people visit daily. Pacific Historic Parks, a nonprofit that supports the memorial, and three nonprofit museums that operate in the orbit of the memorial have used their own funds to pay salaries and utilities. Note that the actual memorial is under repair through March, and while the visitor center is open, the usual tour has been modified.

The Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge and James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge are all federally operated and, for the most part, will not be staffed during the shutdown. However, the public is still able to enter the wildlife refuges at their own risk where access does not require a park employee to be on hand. The same situation applies to all of Hawaii's national wildlife refuges. 


Unlike during previous federal shutdowns, Maui's most popular attraction, Haleakala National Park, has remained open, albeit with limited services. Sunrise tour reservations are still being taken, and the majority of the park is accessible. The park has minimal staffing, who are working without pay, to maintain order and safety. Emergency response may be delayed or not available due to the shutdown, according to park officials, and camping is allowed only within Hosmer Grove Campground in the Summit District; Kipahulu Campground; and tent campgrounds at Kipahulu and at Holua and Paliku in the crater. The visitor centers are closed, and all park interpretive and educational programs are canceled.


The trail to Kalaupapa National Historical Park is closed until further notice after a landslide took out one of the footbridges on the 3-mile path. Because the park is short-staffed during the partial shutdown, repairs could take longer than normal, according to park officials. 

Island of Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, like Haleakala, is also staying open with a skeleton crew of unpaid workers during the shutdown. Visitor services and programs have been suspended, but many areas remain open including Kiiauea Visitor Center exhibits, picnic tables and restrooms, the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association store at the visitor center, the Crater Rim Trail between Volcano House and Kilauea Military Camp, Volcano House lodging, gift stores and restaurants, the Kilauea Military Camp and Theatre, the Volcano Art Center Gallery, and the Kau Desert Trail to the Footprints shelter and exhibit. Other areas of the park, such as Chain of Craters Road, Escape Road, all campgrounds, all backcountry areas, and the Kahuku unit will remain closed. No entry fee is being charged during the shutdown.

Elsewhere on Hawaii Island, the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park and The Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park are accessible to the public but their respective visitor centers are closed and all programs are suspended. The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail is not currently being serviced by federal staff but many access points to the 175-mile coastal trail remain open. 


Two of Kauai's more popular attractions, Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast, are part of state parks and spared from the federal furloughs. However, Napali Coast State Wilderness Park was impacted by the record rainfall in April 2018 and the popular Kalalau Trail remains closed. Haena State Park was also damaged during the storm and subsequent flooding and remains closed.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI