When will national parks reopen? Many are opening in phases

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SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, CALIF. -- WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2015: Anthony Ambrose climbs up a Sequoia tree after properly rigging it with a rope to conduct drought research in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Aug. 5, 2015. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
The big trees at Sequoia National Park in the western Sierra. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

National parks in the West are opening 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.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in the western Sierra will reopen trails, restrooms and picnic areas Friday. Campgrounds, lodgings and visitor centers will remain shut, but hikers holding wilderness permits to the back-country will be allowed access.

Lassen Volcanic National Park reopened hiking trails (except Bumpass Hell) as well as the park's 30-mile park highway, and Butte Lake and Warner Valley roads. Permitted backcountry camping resumed too.

Manzanita Lake and Southwest walk-in campgrounds will opened. Seasonal campgrounds will open on previously scheduled dates; check dates at Lassen's website. The Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and Loomis Museum remain closed.

Joshua Tree National Park east of Los Angeles partially reopened May 17. Campgrounds as well as most restrooms have reopened. Visitor centers and group campsites remain closed. The park closed April 1 over coronavirus fears.

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona will open the South Rim entrance daily, all hours, starting June 5, and the South Rim’s Mather campground will be open for campers with reservations. The park’s remote North Rim opens June 5 for day use. Its campground is expected to open July 1. Beginning June 14, the park will phase in commercial and noncommercial Colorado River trips.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which straddles Utah and Arizona, is open. . Boat rentals and ramps at Bullfrog and Wahweap for houseboats, power boats and personal watercraft are open daily for overnight visitors. Also, the Bullfrog RV Park and Campground is open. Most of Glen Canyon’s 1.25 million acres of lakeside shoreline and hiking trails will be accessible to the public. Boat ramps and most visitor services at Antelope Point Marina and the Lees Ferry Campground remain closed.

Yellowstone reopened five park entrances in Wyoming and Montana, providing access to Lake, Grant and Canyon villages as well as Old Faithful and West Thumb. Other openings include restrooms, self-service gas stations, trails, boardwalks, some stores, medical clinics and approved tours, boating and fishing and takeout food service. No resumption of sit-down dining in the park is scheduled yet.

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming also will partially reopened 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.

Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California reopened trail heads and parking lots as well as restrooms, though guests are advices to grind their own soap and hand sanitizer. Visitor centers and campgrounds remain closed.

However, other California national parks remain closed. Temporary closures in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument and Fort Point National Historic Site will remain in place.

Parking restrictions continue at places such as Muir, Stinson and Rodeo beaches. Alcatraz Island, the Presidio Visitor Center, Fort Point National Historic Site, Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, Muir Woods and other areas have not yet reopened.

Some parks never officially closed (like Channel Islands). Some, like Yosemite, are such magnets for visitors that superintendents felt obliged to close them relatively early. At other parks, it’s harder to be sure what’s happening when. But in hopes of reopening soon, the Oasis at Death Valley, a privately owned lodging inside that park, is taking reservations for June 15 and beyond.

The move to begin reopening parks brought complaints from the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, a group representing 1,800 current, former, and retired employees and volunteers of the National Park Service. The group contends the decision was premature.

Meanwhile, Utah has started to reopen its big parks. Arches and Canyonlands national parks opened park roads, trails and restrooms starting. Back-country permits for Canyonlands and climbing or canyoneering trips in Arches are available, an announcement said.

However, visitor centers and park stores will remain closed. Camping in the back-country and at Fiery Furnace and Devils Garden campgrounds in Arches as well as Willow Flat and Needles camping areas are still shut.

Zion National Park opened selected areas. Capitol Reef National Park opened to day-use in Cathedral Valley and Waterpocket Fold. Overnight stays are allowed in Cedar Mesa and Cathedral Valley campgrounds.

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah opened trails around the red-rock spires of the Bryce Amphitheater, its most visited area. The main park road and viewpoints along the way will be open from the entrance to Rainbow Point. However, the visitor center, campgrounds, backcountry trails and restrooms remain closed (except for one at Sunset Point), a park announcement said.

Dinosaur National Monument in Jensen, Utah, reopened roads and trails, but visitor centers and campgrounds remain closed. Also, visitors are asked to bring their own drinking water as there won’t be access to water.

Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments in Utah will reopen roads, trails and restrooms. Visitor centers and other facilities will remain shut.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii reopened Mauna Loa Road to Kipukapuaulu for vehicles, bicyclists and hikers. The road past Kipukapuaulu is open for hikers and bicyclists to the Mauna Loa Overlook at 6,662 feet in elevation.

The park also opened the Footprints Trail from Highway 11 to the Kau Desert Trail and Mauna Iki Trail junction and Escape Road, for bicycling, horseback riding and hiking to the Mauna Ulu junction.

In Denali National Park, rangers have opened a portion of Denali Park Road, allowing the public into the park again, and NPS officials have said the shortage of cruise visitors this summer could open more room for visitors by car. Several lodges at the end of the park road in the Denali community of Kantishna are making plans to open this summer, an NPS notice said, noting the spring plowing operations “are on schedule to get the road open for summer.”

The CDC has dedicated a web page for visitors on how to stay safe in park settings.

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