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Death Valley National Park closes to visitors

Death Valley National Park
A roaming rock at the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park, which closed to visitors Saturday.
(Ben Greenburg / National Park Service)

Death Valley National Park, which earlier had shut campgrounds and services, closed to all visitors Saturday over coronavirus concerns, according to a park statement.

“California State Highway 190 and Daylight Pass will remain open for pass through traffic,” the statement said. “Park rangers remain on duty protecting the parks, and normal rules and regulations continue to apply.”

Death Valley had severely scaled back its operations, closing all lodging, including The Oasis inn and ranch house two weeks ago. The resort hopes to reopen May 22, according to the website. The Stovepipe Wells Resort also closed.

Visitor centers, restrooms at trail heads and view points, parking lots at popular sites such as Zabriskie Point and Badwater, also had closed.

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On Wednesday, the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree national parks shut to all visitors as well, park statements say. Both parks had scaled back services, campgrounds and some trail access, but crowds continued to gather anyway.

Earlier, the Grand Canyon had closed many of its most popular features, including El Tovar Hotel and the Thunderbird, Kachina and Maswik lodges. Hopi House, Lookout Studio, Hermits Rest, Phantom Ranch and the park’s mule rides, bus tours also closed, as did the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel.

The Yavpai Lodge, restaurant and Tavern closed, and shuttle bus service has been discontinued.

Last Saturday, Arches and Canyonlands national parks in Utah closed to all visitors, including hikers and cyclists. Redwood National and State Parks north of San Francisco closed vehicle access to the parks but is allowing hikers and cyclists to enter the park, noting most services and operations are shut.

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Last Friday, Glacier National Park closed to all visitors. Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in the western Sierra did the same Wednesday, according to a park statement. These parks join Yosemite and Yellowstone which earlier announced closures to comply with coronavirus precautions.

Other national parks have scaled back services, closing restrooms, roads and parking lots to try to keep crowds from gathering. Great Basin National Park in Nevada closed (or postponed opening) campgrounds as well as restrooms and the Lehman Caves.

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon also closed Tuesday to all visitors. However, Oregon Highway 62 through the parks southern end will stay open.

Here’s a rundown of what’s open and what’s closed as parks try to balance access to open space with keeping visitors safe.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite shut down to all visitors Friday, according to a park release. The park closed at 3 p.m. “at the request of the local health department” over coronavirus precautions, the statement said. There will be no access permitted into the park until further notice. The closure will be enforced 24/7.

As restrictions get tighter and stir-craziness grows, officials and Californians walk a delicate line on outdoor activity

The landmark Ahwahnee Hotel as well as other lodgings and restaurants closed Tuesday as a precaution over coronavirus concerns. The closure was said to last through March 31. The park earlier this week also closed campgrounds and canceled events and ranger-led activities.

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Other cutbacks in services vary from park to park. Entry fees have been waived to avoid contact between members of National Park Service staff and members of the public.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks

The park closed to visitors and notes these road closures: “California Highway 180 will remain open for pass-through traffic to access Giant Sequoia National Monument and private property. All other roads and parking facilities are temporarily closed.”

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area that stretches from Pacific Palisades to Malibu and Ventura County closed campgrounds and parking lots Tuesday. It earlier had closed the visitor center at King Gillette Ranch and the Satwiwa Native American Culture Center. Hiking, biking and equestrian trails remain open, the website says.

At Channel Islands National Park, the mainland visitor center in Ventura is closed until further notice. The park’s transportation concessioner, Island Packers, has temporarily canceled boat service to the islands. The park’s website noted that the islands remain open for private boater landings.

Rangers at Pinnacles National Park in central California on Thursday closed the Bear Gulch Caves, Balconies Caves, and High Peaks Steep and Narrow trails. The park’s nature and visitor centers and shuttles had already closed. Also the western entrance to the park is closed.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closed all “trails, roads, campgrounds, the backcountry, and public restrooms” on Sunday, a park statement said Saturday. It includes trails and visiting areas for the Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.

Olympic National Park in Washington state, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus, closed park roads, campgrounds, lodgings and most services temporarily. Mount Rainier National Park, also in Washington, closed roads to cars, buses, motorcycles and even bicycles to keep people from entering the park.

Zion National Park in Utah closed to all visitors on April 3. Two roads through the park will remain open for local residents only, a statement said. Also, stopping at pull offs will be prohibited. The park early closed the popular Angels Landing Trail from Scout Lookout to the end of the trail while leaving others open.

Updates:
3:02 PM, Mar. 24, 2020: Story was updated to include new park closures issued Tuesday.

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