How the government shutdown will affect St. Louis area national parks, monuments

ST. LOUIS - If Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill can't make up their minds on a spending bill, the gates at the Arch will remain locked for a while.

The last tram rides went up at 5:15 p.m. Friday and there were some out-of-town riders thankful they made it in time.

"I turned to my friend and said, 'I'm glad we picked today to come because it might not be open tomorrow' with the government possibly shutting down at midnight," visitor Michelle Weber said.

Weber is in St. Louis with her friends from Chicago for the weekend. She's one of the lucky ones who caught the last tram going to the top on Friday.

"I'm really happy we came," she said. "It's beautiful. Wonderful tour; great experience and I'm happy I got the chance to do."

But not everyone was so lucky.

Kaleb Dienelt, a Fort Wayne native visiting St. Louis for the first time, said tickets were sold out Friday. His hopes of getting a bird's eye view of downtown could be dashed entirely if the government shuts down.

"It puts a damper on what I wanted to do, but it happens," Dienelt said.

Rhonda Schier, a spokesman with Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which oversees the Gateway Arch, released this statement:

In the event of a shutdown, national parks will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures.

Visitors will have access to the park grounds, but the Visitor Center at the Arch and the Old Courthouse will not be open.

Hearing word of that, visitors hoped elected officials could get the deal done before it's too late.

"It's annoying," Dienelt said. "I'll be the first to say that! I really wish they would be able to come up with a budget deal to keep the government running."

"It's upsetting that families come out of town to do these things," Weber said. "They go out of town to visit history and learn about and to come all this way and not be able to do it just because some people can't decide on something, it's sad."