Yosemite national park
Yosemite National Park

National Parks Reopen: What You Can Visit Now

Planning a summer or fall trip to a national park? Make sure it’s open.

Our national parks have been closed for more than 3 months, with few details as to when they’d again open for summer vacations, rest, and relaxation.

But as social distancing measures and travel restrictions measures lift, so do restrictions on parks. This month, some of the first national parks reopened for daily use.

Each specific NPS park page lists what is open, what is closed, and the status of nearby state parks to provide visitors/travelers with alternative options.

Read our dos and don’ts for visiting a national park here, then check out the list of parks that are reopening below.

Can I Travel to a National Park?

There is no easy yes or no answer. National parks are opening on a case-by-case, state-by-state basis to comply with local health regulations. If you live in a state that’s still under a stay-at-home or safer-at-home order, you’ll need to wait to visit a national park until after the order lifts.

“We ask the public to please recreate safely and responsibly,” wrote the NPS in its response to COVID-19. “Avoid high-risk outdoor activities, stay in your local area and follow Leave No Trace principles.”

If you live in a state where nonessential travel is allowed, consider visiting parks closest to home first (like state parks). And if you happen to be one of the lucky few to live nearby a national park that has reopened, make sure to follow the CDC and NPS guidelines to stay safe.

Between May 9 and 17, the NPS issued a statement with phased reopening guidelines for a dozen or so national parks. “We are working to increase access to the park in a phased approach,” reads the NPS site update page. “Currently there are closed facilities, limited services, and closures of some areas and roads to vehicles.”

traffic congestion at arches national park

Many national parks are also implementing restrictions on the number of visitors, so be sure to read park information carefully.

Dos and Don’ts: Visiting a National Park in 2020

We’ve rounded up a list of the most common new safety guidelines across U.S. national parks. But be sure to visit each park’s page on NPS.gov to learn more details on what is accessible and when.

  • Do comply with state and local guidance. As tempting as it is, just because a park is open doesn’t mean you should go.
  • Do follow the 6-foot distancing rule.
  • Do pack everything in and out. This LNT rule is one we’re already used to, but during COVID-19, we recommend extra caution. Facilities and resources you usually take for granted may not be available. This includes packing in items like all drinking water, food, and a park map.
  • Do avoid crowded areas. Limitations on trails might mean that once open, a park is more crowded than usual. Avoid peak times and popular areas.
  • Don’t enter closed areas or hike on closed trails. It’s not just campgrounds and playgrounds that are closed for safety, some trails are too. National park staff members are working hard to get all trail maintenance up to date in preparation for reopening.
  • Don’t approach wildlife. With large percentages of city populations at home, both city and wilderness areas have seen an increase in wildlife activity. It puts both you and others in danger. As always, do not approach.
  • Do stay home if you’re sick or caring for someone who is. You can always visit national parks virtually in the meantime.
NPS posters COVID-19
National Park Service posters; courtesy of NPS/Matt Turner

Choose a national park from the list below to learn more about open trails, national park highways, and more.

US National Parks Open Now

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National Parks Scheduled to Open*

*Per NPS, all scheduled opening dates listed are subject to change. Check park updates before you go.

National Parks Closed Until Further Notice**

**We will continue to update this list as more information from NPS becomes available.

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Mary Murphy
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Mary is based out of GearJunkie's Denver, CO office. Her outdoor interests span from climbing to landscape photography to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

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