UPDATED: COVID-19 and the National Parks

Last updated: March 29, 2019

News about the national parks is changing daily. Below you’ll find the latest information on some of the most frequently asked questions, as well as links to additional information and resources.

Latest updates and related stories:

Are the parks closed? 

Yes and no. On March 17th, the National Park Service began widespread closures of visitor centers, campgrounds, restaurants, and lodges throughout the country. On March 20, several parks began shutting down completely – this trend is continuing throughout the park system. At this point, assume all the most popular parks are closed.

Before you visit any parks, be sure to check the latest status at the individual park page at the National Park Service website: www.nps.gov.

Should I still visit a national park? 

Depends. If you live close to a park that has trails –  yes! Getting outside is a great way to remove the feeling of isolation and help boost your spirits – while still practicing social distancing. However, if you need to travel long distances to reach the park, you should reconsider.

Where can I get more details about a particular park? 

Visit nps.gov. Each park can post alerts and many of them are being updated daily. This is the best location for the latest information on individual parks. Also, consider visiting our friends at National Parks Traveler for in-depth reporting on all things national parks.

Are the parks still collecting entrance fees?

No. On March 18th, the National Park Service announced a temporary suspension of entrance fees.

What if I have reservations for this summer?

Don’t change your plans…yet. If you have reservations at one of the parks for this summer, you should wait and see what the situation is closer to the date.

Help! I’m stuck at home dreaming about national parks!

Check out our complete list of suggestions on ways to virtual visit a national park in our “Top 10 Ways to Virtually Visit a National Park” blog post.

Is the National Mall open?

NOTE: The National Park Service is discouraging people from visiting the Tidal Basin area to view the cherry blossoms. The outside areas of the Mall are open however several of the facilities and memorials have shutdown. For a complete list, visit the individual park’s website here.

Is the Appalachian Trail open? Yes and no. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is asking thru-hikers to postpone or cancel their 2020 thru-hikes. For locals near the trail, it’s still a great place to practice social distancing. Similar advisors are being issued for Continental Divide Trail and Pacific Crest Trail.

 

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