National parks in the West are starting to open their gates, and more are likely to follow as the National Park Service boosts access and services in a "phased approach across all units" of the system. Each park said it has worked with federal as well as local public health officials in crafting reopening plans.
In many cases, parks will reopen as they closed -- by varying timetables, depending on the park and its region. The agency said decisions would follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as regional and local health authorities.
The CDC has dedicated a web page for visitors on how to stay safe in park settings.
Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona will open for a limited time this weekend and plans to increase access later this month. "Currently, additional access is planned for visitors over Memorial Day weekend, which includes extending entrance station hours and access to more roads, hiking trails and viewpoints," a Wednesday announcement said.
The popular summer destination will begin a limited reopening at the South Rim entrance 6 to 10 a.m. Friday to Monday. Travelers will be allowed to drive to Shoshone Point, Pipe Creek Vista and other viewpoints before turning around at Navajo Point. Some picnic areas and restrooms will reopen too.
Visitors should bring food, water and hand sanitizer because stores and restaurants will not be open. Also, the east entrance, Desert View area, Rim Trail and all hiking trails in the canyon, Grand Canyon Village and the Colorado River area remain closed.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which straddles Utah and Arizona, is opening in phases. On May 8, Wahweap Campground opened, and major boat ramps for popular Lake Powell opened for day use Fridays through Sundays. On Friday, boat rentals and ramps for houseboats, power boats and personal watercraft will open daily for overnight visitors. On May 21, Lake Powell Resort and Defiance House Lodge are due to open. By May 22, most of Glen Canyon's 1.25 million acres of lakeside shoreline and hiking trails will be accessible to the public.
Yellowstone has a phased plan to start reopening Monday, starting with the south and east entrances (in Wyoming), limiting visitors to the park's lower loop, which allows access to Lake, Grant and Canyon villages as well as Old Faithful and West Thumb. Montana entrances, back-country trails, campgrounds and lodgings remain closed.
Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming also will partially reopen May 18. Primary roads, some restrooms and hiking trails will be open but campgrounds and overnight lodgings remain shut. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado plans to allow back-country camping permits starting May 27 and will open two campgrounds, Moraine Park and Glacier Basin, starting June 4.
However, California national parks pretty much remain closed. Temporary closures in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument and Fort Point National Historic Site will remain in place because stay-at-home orders for six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area have been extended through May.