Some National Parks Are Still Open — What to Know Before Heading Out

Because social distancing can be done with a side of fresh air. 

During the time of coronavirus, the terms social distancing and isolation have become a norm, but that doesn’t mean you need to hole up in your home for the duration. The outdoors are still yours for the taking — with some precaution of course — as getting some fresh air may be the key to a happy quarantine.

If you’re thinking about heading to a nearby national park, there are a few things you should know.

Popular parks around the country that are now closed include: Joshua Tree, Yellowstone, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Yosemite.

Many of the country’s national parks that remain open during the COVID-19 outbreak, have cut services, canceled programs and closed visitor centers with park shuttles, restaurants and ranger-guided programs also on hold. A good rule of thumb is that most services that require employee-visitor close interaction have been suspended. Many parks have also temporarily closed their camping sites. Check your park’s status before visiting.

While Washington state national parks are still open, with the request that visitors follow their newly implemented guidelines, while parks and monuments like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island in New York have closed.

The Grand Canyon has also closed entirely after many calls from locals to do so, according to a press release.

California closed all camping grounds at its state parks, although trails and beaches remain open, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The National Park Service (NPS) has suspended entry fees at all open parks, until further notice.

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park. Getty Images

“This small step makes it a little easier for the American public to enjoy the outdoors in our incredible National Parks.” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement.

The measure also reduces the amount of NPS employees who are exposed to potential health risks.

The NPS recommends that all visitors to parks across the country practice good hand-washing behavior, cover their mouth when sneezing or coughing and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. Be sure to continue practicing social distancing (stay about six feet away from other people) to reduce your chances of falling ill. And, most importantly, stay home if you are feeling sick.

Click here for the most recent updates on coronavirus from Travel + Leisure.

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