Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- and others -- close amid coronavirus shutdown
Just yesterday, The Points Guy reported that the National Park Service would waive park fees at its parks that remained open. But, today, in response to conditions on the ground, some popular national parks, like Great Smoky Mountains National Park, are closing to the public. This is not a nationwide closure of all National Parks at the same time, but some parks are now closed, while others are attempting to operate on a partial closure basis.
At this time, officials from the Centers for Disease Control recommend social distancing and that means it's a bad idea to travel anywhere non-essential. Visiting a nearby national park that was within an easy driving distance seemed like a good idea -- but if everyone descends on the parks at the same time, it makes it difficult to maintain social distance in the most popular spaces and trails.
Here's what to expect as of today at 10 of the nation's most popular national parks:
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park: closed
- Grand Canyon National Park: Visitors centers, museums and other buildings are closed but most outdoor spaces are open. Park Ranger programs are canceled.
- Rocky Mountain National Park: closed
- Zion National Park: Angels Landing chains section is closed but the West Rim Trail remains open. On March 25, all park campgrounds will close.
- Yellowstone National Park: Albright Visitor Center and Boiling River swimming/soaking area is closed. The North Entrance road at Gardiner, Montana, through the park to Cooke City, Montana, remains open.
- Yosemite National Park: closed
- Acadia National Park: All in-person visitor services are closed. Some public spaces open.
- Grand Teton National Park: outdoor areas are open
- Olympic National Park: All park visitor centers and campgrounds, as well as most park entrance roads, are closed. Services are limited. All park lodges, shops, and restaurants are closed.
- Glacier National Park: The Apgar Visitor Center and Bookstore are closed but public spaces are still open.
If you live very close to other national parks, don't make the drive before checking to see if it's open. You'll find closure across the lower 48 and even as further afield as Hawaii. And of course, this list is subject to change at anytime. If you do visit an open national park, practice safe social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other visitors.