Two of the most spectacular landscapes in the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park and Yosemite National Park, closed their gates in response to COVID-19.
If you’re planning to visit a national park, take note. Even though the Interior Department directed the National Park Service to waive entrance fees last week, some parks are instead closing their doors.
Two of America’s most popular parks, Rocky Mountain National Park and Yosemite National Park, locked their gates on Friday.
Update May 22: See which National Parks are reopening here.
Closure Protects Gateway Communities
According to a news release, the Rocky Mountain National Park closure came at the request of the health department in Estes Park. The Denver Post reported that Estes Park Mayor Todd Jirsa had implored the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to close the park.
“A continued influx of visitors at this critical time presents a grave public health concern to Estes Park and surrounding communities,” Jirsa wrote.
Rocky Mountain National Park noted that the closure “will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and there will be no access permitted.” Similarly, the entirety of Yosemite National Park is closed to “all but residents and authorized employees of the National Park Service (NPS), park concessioners, and partners.”
Small towns support their nearby national parks with supplies, lodging, and a workforce for the parks and visitors. But these small towns are facing unprecedented challenges with limited medical facilities.
Thus, leaders have called on visitors to stay away and for parks to shut their gates. The closures of Yosemite and Rocky Mountain national parks are the first large park closures in the United States.
Previously, a handful of smaller parks, such as Ellis Island and Liberty Island in New York, had closed. Dozens of other parks and monuments have either closed or modified operations. As of Sunday, most parks in the country are considering closing facilities like visitor’s centers, overnight camping, and museums, while keeping trails and roads open.
National Parks Coronavirus Closures
The National Park Service recommends that you check with individual parks here before visiting.
These national parks were closed as of April 2. Please check with individual parks to check for new closures or updated operations.
- Rocky Mountain National Park (closed March 20 until further notice)
- Yosemite National Park (closed March 20 until further notice)
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
- Grand Canyon National Park (closed April 2)
- Yellowstone National Park
- Grand Teton National Park
- Haleakala National Park
- Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
- White Sands National Park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park (tentatively reopening April 7)
- Crater Lake National Park