U.S. national parks around the country are closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yosemite National Park closed last Friday, March 20, and so did Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Denali National Park is closing all visitor centers and public spaces, but keeping trails open for the time being.
It’s a hard decision for park officials, but they believe it is their best attempt at preventing further spread of the coronavirus. Rocky Mountain National Park officials released a statement last Friday saying:
“As of 7 pm on Friday, March 20, 2020, Rocky Mountain National Park is closed to all park visitors until further notice. This closure will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and there will be no access permitted to Rocky Mountain National Park.”
“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Rocky Mountain National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on this site and our social media channels.”
At this trying time, many of the now-closed national parks are offering virtual tours while public access remains restricted. Visitors can go to the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River in New York and Pennsylvania, and Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, all from the comfort and safety of home, CBS News says. Dozens of other spots can also be found by searching the National Park Service’s website.
This is the current list of national parks closed because of COVID-19 according to the National Parks Traveller:
- Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, Pennsylvania.
- Cabrillo National Monument, California.
- Canaveral National Seashore, Florida.
- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Arizona.
- El Morro and El Malpais National Monuments, New Mexico.
- Flight 93 National Memorial, Pennsylvania.
- Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, South Carolina.
- Friendship Hill National Historic Site, Pennsylvania.
- Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Pennsylvania.
- Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii.
- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, to close Sunday.
- Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Arizona.
- Independence Hall National Historical Park, Pennsylvania: All buildings on Independence Square, the Independence Visitor Center, Liberty Bell Center, Benjamin Franklin Museum and print shop, the Second Bank Portrait Gallery, Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, the Merchants’ Exchange Building, and the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site are closed.
- Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Pennsylvania.
- Montezuma Well, Arizona.
- Muir Woods National Monument, California.
- New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, Massachusetts.
- Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Hawaii.
- Pu`uhonua o Hōnaunau and Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Parks, Hawaii.
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
- Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Massachusetts.
- Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, New Mexico, will close Sunday, March 22.
- San Juan National Historic Site, Puerto Rico.
- Saratoga National Historical Park, New York.
- Thomas Edison National Historical Park, New Jersey.
- Tonto National Monument, Arizona.
- Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona.
- White Sands National Park, New Mexico, will close Sunday, March 22.
- Yosemite National Park, California.
The National Park Service is taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and strongly encourages individuals to practice strong social distancing measures. The parks are closed indefinitely but will reopen eventually once deemed safe to do so.