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Tourists face shutdown deadline to leave US parks

US military war veterans visit the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on Oct 1, 2013. Hundreds of tourists staying in landmark US national parks like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon face a deadline Thursday to leave due to th
US military war veterans visit the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on Oct 1, 2013. Hundreds of tourists staying in landmark US national parks like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon face a deadline Thursday to leave due to the government shutdown. -- PHOTO: AFP
US Park Rangers stand at the closed gate to Joshua Tree National Park, in Joshua Tree, California on Oct 2, 2013, the second day of the US government shutdown. Hundreds of tourists staying in landmark US national parks like Yosemite and the Grand Can
US Park Rangers stand at the closed gate to Joshua Tree National Park, in Joshua Tree, California on Oct 2, 2013, the second day of the US government shutdown. Hundreds of tourists staying in landmark US national parks like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon face a deadline Oct 3, 2013 to leave due to the government shutdown. The National Park Service closed its gates on its 401 sites as soon as the shutdown went into effect Tuesday morning, Oct 1, 2013, leaving visitors -- including many from overseas -- frustrated at park entrances across the country. -- PHOTO : AFP 
A sign announces the closure of the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming Oct 2, 2013 in the wake of the government shutdown. US President Barack Obama scaled back a long-planned trip to Asia on Oct 2, 2013 and planned a meeting with Democratic and Re
A sign announces the closure of the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming Oct 2, 2013 in the wake of the government shutdown. US President Barack Obama scaled back a long-planned trip to Asia on Oct 2, 2013 and planned a meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress that both sides said was unlikely to yield an end to the government shutdown. -- PHOTO : REUTERS
The Lincoln Memorial, and most of the federal government, is closed on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013, in Washington. The museums that draw millions of visitors to the National Mall closed their doors Tuesday, memorials were barricaded and trash will go uncoll
The Lincoln Memorial, and most of the federal government, is closed on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013, in Washington. The museums that draw millions of visitors to the National Mall closed their doors Tuesday, memorials were barricaded and trash will go uncollected in the nation's most-visited national park due to the first government shutdown in 17 years. -- PHOTO : AP
People look at a sign informing them that the Statue of Liberty is closed due to the government shutdown in Battery Park on Oct 1, 2013 in New York City. Federal museums and parks across the nation are closed starting today due to a government shutdo
People look at a sign informing them that the Statue of Liberty is closed due to the government shutdown in Battery Park on Oct 1, 2013 in New York City. Federal museums and parks across the nation are closed starting today due to a government shutdown for the first time in nearly two decades. The Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all rose slightly higher in early trading Tuesday morning. -- PHOTO -- AFP
A barricade prevents visitors from entering the interior of the Badlands National Park on Oct 1, 2013 near Wall, South Dakota. All national parks were closed today after congress failed to pass a temporary funding bill, forcing about 800,000 federal
A barricade prevents visitors from entering the interior of the Badlands National Park on Oct 1, 2013 near Wall, South Dakota. All national parks were closed today after congress failed to pass a temporary funding bill, forcing about 800,000 federal workers off the job. A bulletin issued by the Department of Interior states, "Effective immediately upon a lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service will take all necessary steps to close and secure national park facilities and grounds in order to suspend all activities ... Day use visitors will be instructed to leave the park immediately..." -- PHOTO : AFP 
Members of the United States Park Police horse-mounted unit patrol in Crissy Field, which has been closed due to the federal government shutdown, in San Francisco, California Oct 2, 2013. Cancellations and delays caused by the federal government shut
Members of the United States Park Police horse-mounted unit patrol in Crissy Field, which has been closed due to the federal government shutdown, in San Francisco, California Oct 2, 2013. Cancellations and delays caused by the federal government shutdown spread across the United States on Wednesday, ruining dream vacations, upending carefully laid wedding plans and complicating the lives of millions of people. -- PHOTO : REUTERS
This Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013, photo shows a sign on Highway 41 north of Fresno, California, alerting motorists of the closure of Yosemite Park due to the government shutdown. President Barack Obama brought top lawmakers to the White House on Wednesday,
This Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013, photo shows a sign on Highway 41 north of Fresno, California, alerting motorists of the closure of Yosemite Park due to the government shutdown. President Barack Obama brought top lawmakers to the White House on Wednesday, Oct 2, as Republicans rejected Democratic demands to vote on legislation ending a two-day partial government shutdown without changes to the nation's three-year-old health care law. -- PHOTO : AP
This Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013, photo shows a sign alerting motorists of the closure of Yosemite National Park, California, due to the government shutdown as US park ranger Heidi Schlichting directs visitors. President Barack Obama brought top lawmakers t
This Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013, photo shows a sign alerting motorists of the closure of Yosemite National Park, California, due to the government shutdown as US park ranger Heidi Schlichting directs visitors. President Barack Obama brought top lawmakers to the White House on Wednesday, Oct 2, as Republicans rejected Democratic demands to vote on legislation ending a two-day partial government shutdown without changes to the nation's three-year-old health care law.  -- PHOTO : AP
A sign announces the closure of the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming Oct 1, 2013 in the wake of the government shutdown. US President Barack Obama scaled back a long-planned trip to Asia on Oct 2, 2013 and planned a meeting
A sign announces the closure of the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming Oct 1, 2013 in the wake of the government shutdown. US President Barack Obama scaled back a long-planned trip to Asia on Oct 2, 2013 and planned a meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress that both sides said was unlikely to yield an end to the government shutdown. -- PHOTO : REUTERS
Barricades are posted in front of the closed Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013. The political stare-down on Capitol Hill shows no signs of easing, leaving federal government functions  from
Barricades are posted in front of the closed Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013. The political stare-down on Capitol Hill shows no signs of easing, leaving federal government functions  from informational websites, to national parks, to processing veterans' claims in limbo from coast to coast. Lawmakers in both parties ominously suggested the partial shutdown might last for weeks. -- PHOTO : AP
A visitor takes a picture of a sign announcing the closure of the Fort Point National Historic Site due to the partial government shutdown on Oct 1, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Federal museums and parks across the nation are closed starting to
A visitor takes a picture of a sign announcing the closure of the Fort Point National Historic Site due to the partial government shutdown on Oct 1, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Federal museums and parks across the nation are closed starting today due to a government shutdown for the first time in nearly two decades. -- PHOTO : AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Hundreds of tourists staying in landmark US national parks like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon face a deadline on Thursday to leave due to the government shutdown.

The National Park Service closed its gates on its 401 sites as soon as the shutdown went into effect on Tuesday morning, leaving visitors - including many from overseas - frustrated at park entrances across the country.

Tourists who were already staying in hotels, cabins and campgrounds inside national parks like California's world-famous Yosemite were allowed to stay - but only for 48 hours, after which they were told to leave.

"Guests .. who are already checked-in can continue with their vacation plans, but they are required to leave by Oct 3 at 3 pm," said Lisa Cesaro of the company that operates over 1,000 rooms in the park, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite.

"The majority of daily activities operated by DNC will not be available during the shutdown including horseback riding and bike rentals," she told AFP, adding: "We are continuing to provide retail, dining and limited transportation services for overnight guests in the park through Thursday."

"If the shutdown continues, we will try to reschedule those who have upcoming reservations or cancel their booking and provide a refund." Some 715,000 visitors flock daily to National Park Service sites across the country, on average in October, according to CNN.

Other world-famous tourist attractions shuttered until further notice include the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, the Alcatraz prison island in San Francisco Bay.

In the Grand Canyon, visited by 18,000 people a day on average at this time of year, spokesman Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski said the gates were closed from 6:00 am Tuesday.

"All recreational opportunities in the park, including hiking, biking, mule rides, visitor centers, they're all closed," she told AFP, adding that people who were in accommodations in the park on Monday night had been "given 48 hours to make additional arrangements, and then they have to leave the park."

"We're just trying to maintain an orderly shutdown and closure of the park," she said, adding: "Having to turn anyone away is hard."