Are National Parks Open during the Covid-19 Crisis?

The Watchman and the Virgin River as seen from the Pa’Rus Trail.

WordPress is running daily prompts during the month of April to help with the cabin fever of bloggers under quarantine everywhere. Today’s prompt is ‘Open.’ So in the midst of statewide lock-downs, are the National Parks Open?

Pa’Rus Trail

The NPS is taking extraordinary steps to implement the latest guidance from state and local public health authorities, which support the CDC’s efforts to promote social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19. The NPS is modifying operations, until further notice, for facilities and programs that cannot adhere to this guidance. Where it is possible to adhere to this guidance, outdoor spaces will remain open to the public and entrance-fee free

—NPS Public Health Page

View of the valley from Scout Lookout Trail

Long story short, some sites, like Zion National Park are open on a limited basis which means no visitor centers, shuttles, stores, public restrooms or trails where people cannot reasonably expected to keep six feet apart. Rangers are still patrolling the parks that are open and there is some controversy in this that may soon see the complete closure of the parks until the pandemic has passed.

View of the valley from Hidden Canyon Trail, which is currently closed.

Until life resumes as normal, there are virtual parks visits on Google Earth and on You Tube. To amuse myself in the long hours at home, I’ve been turning some of my photos into digital paintings.

Kolob Canyon


33 thoughts on “Are National Parks Open during the Covid-19 Crisis?

    1. Thanks Rebecca! I tried fooling around in photoshop, then fotosketcher and then settled on Topaz Studio. Topaz is fairly easy to use with a wide variety of options and lots of tools to customize. And the software was free to download

    1. Thanks so much! You’d think that, but I think they are afraid of the mayhem that happened during the government shutdown…people still went into the parks and did damage since there was no one there to enforce the rules. They killed some of the ancient Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree NP. If rangers don’t patrol, law enforcement would have to and I think they are overwhelmed at the moment

      1. True. I think the people who work there will still need to go to work, but they don’t need to be open to the public. Sort of the opposite of a government shutdown scenario.

    1. We are trying! Unlike the shutdown we are still on duty. At my park we are each in once a week and do a full patrol of the park in order to monitor visitor use patterns in areas that are both open and closed to make sure they are in accordance with both CDC guidelines and park policy and goals. Everything is reported to those higher up in pay grade. But we are doing the best we can. Honestly, my main concern is for friends at other parks who lack the access to medical care that I am fortunate to have at mine. If a park in a remote area opens to soon, there is a very real risk of an infection spreading, well, like wildfire among staff and volunteers as well as public.

  1. I’m pretty sure Yosemite is closed to the public. That particular park is so crowded I don’t know how anyone could possibly manage social distancing there.
    My husband has turned photos into paintings before. We used to have a nice one of Carmel beach. I think he used Photoshop. I will check out Topaz. Thanks for the tip! 😊
    Happy sheltering in place!

      1. Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon are both technically still open, at least in part. (Not coincidentally, they are the two most remote).

  2. I love that you’ve included art in this post — what fun to see how artists represent the parks and how we can get a new perspective. Thanks for participating in the daily prompts and for liking my posts. Stay safe out there.

  3. Good to see that the national parks are looking at individual park situations. I wish my state and county would do the same and go on a park by park basis to determine in each instance if it will help or hurt the cause. I don’t live near any national parks, but the county where I live does whatever the state does, which was to close all state parks so they closed all county parks. The county parks near me are just acres of forest trails so now when people in my area go out for walks they are all forced onto a paved trail that is not a park rather than spread out among the parks as well as that trail. I used to see mostly deer, birds, and squirrels and none or very few people when I took my dog out to one of the parks every morning. Now I see lots of people on the paved trail so these closures had the opposite effect of what they want. Here opening trails only to people who live nearby each park and keeping all other amenities like restrooms and picnic tables closed so nobody lingers too long or touches anything touched by others would make more sense, though that is not the solution everywhere which is why taking each park individually is the ideal solution.

    1. Same here. I have to find creative ways to walk my dogs so as not to get trampled by all the people who have suddenly taken up jogging. We have one town park still open. County and state all closed. So everyone is in the town park. Today I walked the dogs around the schools and only encountered a few people.

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