Stephanie Johnson of San Francisco and two friends from high school, who now live out of the area, drove to Point Reyes National Seashore on Thursday hoping to take a hike to one of the park's many secluded beaches.
But the group encountered a barricade in front of the Bear Valley Visitor Center and two rangers directing traffic.
"Are the beaches this way?" Johnson asked.
"Yes, but the beaches are closed," replied John Dell'Osso, chief of interpretation with the National Park Service. "In fact, our whole national seashore is closed."
The ranger handed the group a map of the area's state and regional parks, which remain open. Disappointed, Johnson turned the car around.
"It's upsetting," she said. "Point Reyes is beautiful. This is what we wanted to do."
Her friend, Kaylee Platt, who is visiting from Boston, said the trio would probably find a local brewery and drink the day away.
"I have some choice words for the government right now," she said.
On day three of the federal government shutdown, rangers in the 401 national parks removed the last campers and locked the gates. Dejected visitors from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite were turned away from vacations that many had planned months in advance.
Mendocino National Forest, Muir Woods National Monument and recreation facilities at Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino that are run by the Army Corps of Engineers were all shut.
Near Point Reyes National Seashore, which sees 8,000 visitors a day in a typical October, the closure was starting to worry small business owners in west Marin County communities such as Olema and Point Reyes Station, who survive on the tourism dollars that the world-renowned park attracts.
Tourists spend $90 million a year in communities around Point Reyes National Seashore, including west Sonoma County, according to the National Park Service.
The closure canceled all park programs and special events including six school field trips and a wedding.
Newlyweds Bowen and Emily Posner from New York had planned their honeymoon to Point Reyes months ago. They were in good spirits when rangers turned them away at the entrance.
"When we heard about the shutdown, we were disappointed, but we thought we'd drive out anyway and take a chance," said Emily Posner, adding that they would spend the day at Tomales Bay State Park.
Dell'Osso said most tourists have left the park in an orderly fashion, even as a steady stream of hopeful visitors continued to try to enter the park Thursday. About 25 rangers will stay on, unpaid, to patrol the park and control access, he said. Ninety employees were sent home on furlough because of the shutdown.
During the closure, most people found inside the park will be given a warning and asked to leave, Dell'Osso said.
"We're trying to be polite to people because it's a tough situation," he said. "We can cite people for trespassing. It's hard to miss the signs."
The closure was already having an impact on businesses around Point Reyes as tourists canceled plans to visit the park known for its 150 miles of hiking trails, backcountry campsites, hidden beaches and an iconic lighthouse. Frank Borodic, president of the West Marin Chamber of Commerce, said his organization is scrambling to produce materials promoting the region's other attractions.