A visit to a national park can offer challenges but the feds and the states are working together to open all parks as rapidly as possible after coronavirus closures.
National park sites across the country continue to open up. Americans, emerging from months of observing safety measures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), are allowed all or partial access to America’s national treasures.
According to a statement issued by the Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt at the end of National Park Week in April, “it is time the American people once again enjoy the incredible benefits of the great outdoors at our national parks, and we will be making that happen while working with our nation’s governors!”
The reopening plan for each national park generally follows a plan to increase access with a phased approach, under the direction of the state’s governor. Prior to traveling, be sure to check the website of each state park of your intended visit for current updates on what is open, partially open or closed. Entrance fees have been waived at a number of parks (check ahead).
Adventure Pro has simplified the search by listing the national parks within and around the perimeter of the Colorado Plateau. For each park we have summarized the current status of its reopening. Because information can change daily, be sure to make timely checks for updates and the latest information, including precautions in place for the coronavirus.
North Rim: The North Rim is open for day use dawn to dusk. The General Store is open. Lodging opens June 15. The North Rim campground opens July 1. Tuweep and the Tuweep Campground are open.
South Rim: The South Rim’s South Entrance is open 24 hours a day. For services, some visitor services and overnight accommodations are available but visitor centers and museums are closed. Day hiking is open on inner canyon trails. Existing backcountry permits for hikers camping overnight will be honored. Shuttle buses are not in operation. Hermit Road is open only to foot and bicycle travel. The Canyon Rim Trail and the Greenway Trail system are open outside of the village residential area. Mather Campground is open for existing reservation only (groups sites are currently not available). Trailer Village is open.
The Museum and Visitor and Research Center remain closed. However, most facilities and services are open, including Morefield Campground, Far View Terrace Café and Gift Shop, Far View Lodge, Spruce Tree Terrace Café and Gift Shop, Chapin Mesa Picnic Area and the public restrooms.
The open roads and recreational areas include the Main Park Road, Far View archeological sites, Mesa Top Loop Road, Cliff Palace/Balcony House Loop Drive, Spruce Tree House Overlook and the Morefield and Chapin Mesa hiking trails.
All of the roads, trails and restrooms are open, including the park store operated by the Canyonlands Natural History Association. Arches Visitor Center, backcountry camping, Devils Garden Campground and Fiery Furnace remain closed. Climbing and canyoneering permits are available.
Similar to Arches National Park. All of the roads, trails and restrooms are open. The visitor centers and park stores, Devils Garden Campground, Fiery Furnace and Willow Flat Campground at Island in the Sky District and Needles Campground in the Needles District remain closed. Backcountry permits are available.
The main road and all viewpoints to Rainbow Point are open. Also open are the Visitor Center and the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association bookstore, the General Store, the restrooms at Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, Farview and Rainbow Points, all trails within the Bryce Amphitheater and Mossy Cave parking. Sunset Campground is open but by reservation only, The free park shuttle has resumed and runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Rainbow Bus Tour is not operating. The Lodge at Bryce Canyon will open June 15. Backcountry trails and permits for backcountry camping will be permitted effective no later than July 1.
The North Campground is closed for paving and is expected to reopen around mid-July.
The park is open for day use during daylight hours only. Trail use is allowed on-trail only for in-and-out hiking from trailheads. The open park roads include Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, Zion-Mountain Carmel Highway and the Mount Carmel Tunnel. Open trails include Pa’rus, Archeology, Grotto, Riverside Walk, Sand Bench, Upper Emerald Pool, Kayenta and West Rim Trail to Scout Lookout. For the open operations, they include outdoor visitor orientation and information centers in the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, Watchman Campground by reservation only, Zion Forever Bookstore, Zion Lodge and the Canyon Trail Rides.
Closed areas and activities include Kolob canyons, South Campground and Lava Point Campground, the museum and theater, Angels Landing Chains Section, wilderness and recreation permits, climbing and canyoneering, overnight backpacking and any through hiking, the Lower Emerald Pools and the Weeping Rock area.
On June 3, the park reopened access to the main park road, the Dunes parking area and dunefield, Medano Pass Primitive Road (including first-come, first-served campsites), all trails and all picnic areas.
Facilities and activities to remain closed until further notice. This includes the visitor center, South Ramada group picnic site in the Mosca Creek Picnic Area, Pinon Flats Campground and overnight backcountry access.
Open travel routes include South Rim Drive, North Rim for day-use only, inner canyon routes for permitted day-use and Red Rock Canyon to permit holders. Open campgrounds include South Rim Campground Loops A and B, North Rim Campground, East Port Road and Campground, and overnight use in the inner canyon with a required wilderness permit.
The South Rim and North Rim campgrounds and the South Rim Visitor Center are closed.
For climbers, the annual closures are in effect through July 15 for protection of nesting raptors. To protect the birds, closed areas and routes include Serpent Point and all walls within a half mile, including the top of walls 50 feet from the rim edge. However, this excludes developed trails and overlooks. Closed climbing routes on the Painted Wall include Southern Arete, Journey Through Mirkwood, Forrest-Walker, Stratosfear, The Serpent, Dragon Route, Climb Bold or Fly (Bever Route) and Northern Arete. The routes on the south rim wall across from the Painted Wall are open.
Closed routes upstream from Echo Canyon include Kill ‘Em All, The Black Buttress, Deadman’s Walk and Me, Myself & My Ego. Hiking within Echo Canyon is allowed.
Capitol Reef National Park is fully open. The visitor center and Gifford House are open daily. However, building occupancies are limited to 20 people at a time. The Fruita Campground is open for campers with a reservation. The Group Site is closed. Program schedules will be posted at the visitor center and campground. Backcountry camping is available with a permit obtained at the visitor center. Canyoneering routes are also open with a permit, except for all routes in Shinbo, Burro, Cottonwood and Five Mile canyons.