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Yellowstone National Park Is Currently Closed, But You Can Live-Stream Old Faithful Right Now

Good Housekeeping logo Good Housekeeping 3/25/2020 Lyndsey Matthews
a group of clouds in the sky © Westend61 - Getty Images

Last week, the National Park Service decided to waive entrance fees to allow people to get fresh air and exercise in an effort to support social distancing as the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the United States.

“I’ve directed the National Park Service to waive entrance fees at parks that remain open,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said on March 18. “This small step makes it a little easier for the American public to enjoy the outdoors in our incredible National Parks.”

However, following guidance from the CDC and from state and local public health officials, the NPS is modifying operations at many parks — including closing public buildings including visitor centers and toilets — as well as popular trails in some places as it becomes too difficult to practice social distancing.

Where it is possible to avoid crowded areas, outdoor spaces will remain entrance-fee free and open to the public. Because services are extremely limited in most parks right now, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles — like pack-in and pack-out — in order to keep the parks that are open clean and safe for everyone.

Of the 62 national parks operated by the National Park Service in the United States, these are the ones currently experiencing closures of some sort, organized by state.

Alaska

a snow covered mountain: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. © urbanglimpses - Getty Images Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

Of the eight national parks in Alaska, three are currently affected by coronavirus closures. Gates of the Arctic, Katmai, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks have yet to make any announcements about closures, but many public buildings in these remote areas don’t open for the season anyway until later in the spring.

Denali National Park

While Denali’s Visitor Centers are closed until further notice—including the Winter Visitor Center, Sled Dog Kennels, and Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station—public spaces throughout the park remain open including trails. However, on March 20, the park suspended all permits for climbing Denali or Mount Foraker during the 2020 mountaineering season and will be automatically issuing refunds to climbers who had already paid the fees.

“High alpine mountaineering typically requires transport in small aircraft, and shared tents, climbing equipment, and other camp infrastructure,” the park service said in a statement. “In light of these and other factors, such as the difficulty maintaining recommended hygiene protocols in a mountain environment, park officials have determined it is not feasible to adequately protect the health of mountaineering rangers, other emergency responders, pilots, and the climbing public at this time.”

Glacier Bay National Park

At Glacier Bay, backcountry permit issuance will begin on its normal date of May 1, 2020, but its visitor services season is being delayed from Memorial Day weekend until July 1, 2020, affecting the opening of the park visitor center and day boat trips into the bay. For now, the park’s Yakutat Ranger Station/Visitor Center is temporarily closed. Glacier Bay Lodge is unlikely open this season due to the shortened season, cancellations, and lack of new bookings. However, Philip Hooge, the Superintendent of Glacier Bay National Park, says that the lodge will invest in repairs and renovations while it remains closed to guests.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Public spaces at Kenai Fjords remain open, but as of March 23, 2020, many of the park’s public buildings including its headquarters, Exit Glacier area winter public use cabins, and Exit Glacier area vault toilets are all closed to the public until further notice.

Arizona

Arizona’s popular national parks are open, but are operating with extremely limited facilities at the moment.

Grand Canyon National Park

As of Tuesday, March 24, Grand Canyon National Park is open and entrance fees have been temporarily suspended at the Desert View and South Entrance Stations. However there are limited services within the park. All shuttle bus service on the South Rim has been suspended and all 12 Grand Canyon National Park Lodges have been closed until further notice. River rafting trips are suspended until May 21, 2020.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park is open and entrance fees have been waived. While the park’s visitor center is closed, restrooms are open but the park is asking that people respect social distancing measures when interacting with employees and other visitors.

Saguaro National Park

The trail system at Saguaro National Park in Tucson remains open and camping permits are still being issued online currently. However, on March 24, the park announced on its official Facebook page that both visitor centers as well as the front country restrooms and comfort stations are closing temporarily. Fee collection operations are being suspended and all public programs are being canceled until further notice.

Since the park experienced significant crowding in parking lots last weekend, it is asking if people plan on hiking that they consider a lesser used area of the park, arrive early or take a sunset hike to avoid crowds as the park is busiest between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Arkansas

Arkansas’s single national park remains open with limited facilities until further notice.

Hot Springs National Park

From March 18 until further notice, Hot Springs National Park’s Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center and Museum is closed. As long as social distancing can be maintained, the park says that all trails, the Grand Promenade, and the park campground will remain open to the public.

Park superintendent Laura Miller also noted in a statement that the park is developing online content to allow our visitors to enjoy the park from the comfort of their own home.

California

a close up of a pond of water with a mountain in the background: Yosemite National Park. © Bartfett - Getty Images Yosemite National Park.

With some of the strictest shelter-in-place orders in the country California’s national parks are similarly restricted.

Channel Islands National Park

From March 16 until further notice, the park’s mainland visitor center in Ventura Harbor is closed and Island Packers, the park’s boat transportation concessioner, has also halted its public transportation services to the islands for two weeks.

However, the five islands that make up the national park located directly south of Santa Barbara will remain open to the public via private vessels. If you’d like to visit the park remotely, the Channel Islands Live webcams allow you to experience the park’s kelp forest, as well as several bald eagle nests.

Death Valley National Park

While the park itself is open, all facilities including restrooms, campgrounds, and visitor centers are closed until further notice. To discourage groups from congregating, the parking lots at Badwater, Zabriskie Point, and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes have also been closed.

Joshua Tree National Park

As of March 21, 2020, campgrounds are closed and vehicles are restricted from all park roads until further notice. However, Joshua Tree remains open to both bicycle and hiker access. For more information about access to wilderness and urban trails, visit nps.gov.

Lassen Volcano National Park

Winter road snow clearing is taking place and Lassen Volcanic National Park is open to visitors currently. While the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center is closed, bathrooms inside its 24-hour vestibule are open, along with ones at Loomis Plaza.

Pinnacles National Park

Located about 50 miles inland from Monterey, Pinnacles National Park closed its west entrance (its east gate remains open), in addition to all nature centers and visitor centers. Shuttles are also not operating and the Bear Gulch Caves, Balconies Caves, and High Peaks Steep and Narrow trails are closed from March 19 until further notice.

Redwood National and State Parks

While some of Redwood National Park’s facilities including many visitor centers and restrooms, its space remains open to the public as of March 24, to enjoy over hundred miles of trails throughout its 130,000 acre partnership of redwood trees near the Oregon border.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

As of March 24, all public facilities within both national parks are temporarily closed. That includes all visitor centers, restrooms, lodges, and restaurants. Nearly all the park roads are also closed, except for the Big Stump entrance to Kings Canyon National Park on Highway 180, which provides access to national forest lands and park areas that remain open, including Redwood Canyon in Kings Canyon and Mineral King Road, South Fork and North Fork areas of Sequoia National Park.

To enjoy the park during these closures, you can download the park's free official app virtual tours of famous sites including the General Sherman Tree and General Grant Tree.

Yosemite National Park

In one of the most extensive park closures yet, Yosemite’s superintendent closed the entirety of the national park from March 20 until further notice to all but residents and authorized employees of the National Park Service, park concessioners, and partners. For more information and a map of the closed areas, visit nps.gov.

Colorado

Facilities are limited at most of Colorado’s NPS sites, but Rocky Mountain National Park is completely closed to visitors until further notice.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the south rim campground and visitor center are both closed until further notice, but the rest of the park remains open.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

As of March 17, the visitor center at Great Sand Dunes is closed until further notice, but public restrooms in the visitor center lobby will be available to guests between 9:00a.m. and 4:30p.m. All trails, parking areas, and picnic areas remain open currently.

Mesa Verde National Park

The open space and trails at Mesa Verde National Park remain open to visitors, but all public facilities including the Visitor and Research Center and Store, Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, and the Spruce Tree Terrace Café are closed until May 1, 2020.

Rocky Mountain National Park

As of March 20, Rocky Mountain National Park is closed to all park visitors with no access permitted to any areas until further notice. However, you can enjoy the park’s spectacular mountain views through its various webcams that are still operational.

Florida

Technically, all three of Florida’s national parks are open, but access and facilities are extremely limited until further notice.

Biscayne National Park

Located at the northern tip of the Florida Keys, Biscayne National Park’s park waters remain open to visitors but land facilities are temporarily closed at Convoy Point, Boca Chita, Elliott, and Adams Keys. All tours are suspended until further notice.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Known for its marine life and 19th century fort located off the far end of the Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas National Park is closing all visitor contact stations and campgrounds until further notice. Ranger-led programs and concession tours are also cancelled.

Everglades National Park

While park waters remain open for access from outside Everglades National Park, access in Miami-Dade County is not available to the public until further notice, including Shark Valley, East Everglades area, and the main park road from the Homestead entrance to the Flamingo area.

Hawaii

In addition to requiring all people arriving from outside of Hawaii to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, the state’s national parks are also enacting strict regulations and closing entirely to guests for the foreseeable future.

Haleakala National Park

After closing its visitor centers and backcountry access on March 17, Haleakalā National Park decided to temporarily close all access—including to the Kīpahulu District and Summit District—from March 21 until further notice.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

As of Sunday, March 22, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park closed to all public areas to park visitors until further notice. That includes trails, roads, campgrounds, the backcountry, and public restrooms. You can enjoy live webcams via U.S. Geological Survey of the park’s volcanoes from the comfort of your own home at nps.gov.

Indiana

In early 2019, Indiana got its first national park. The lakeshore park remains mostly open for people to use currently.

Indiana Dunes National Park

The buildings and restrooms are temporarily closed at Indiana’s first national park until further notice for the safety of staff and visitors.

Kentucky

The namesake of Kentucky’s national park is off limits for now, but people enjoy its open spaces.

Mammoth Cave National Park

All cave tours and the visitor center closed earlier in March and on March 24, all campgrounds in the park were also shuttered. Surface trails are still open to the public for hiking and biking.

Maine

a view of a body of water with a mountain in the background: Acadia National Park. © PictureLake - Getty Images Acadia National Park.

Shoulder season service is already limited at Maine’s Acadia National Park, but further restrictions have been put in order.

Acadia National Park

All campgrounds and restrooms are currently closed to public access. If you do decide to visit the outdoor spaces that are open to the public, the park asks visitors to seek out less-visited areas and if you encounter a crowded trailhead to go elsewhere.

Michigan

Michigan’s one national park is essentially closed until later in the spring due to weather—it’s unclear if its opening day will be postponed right now.

Isle Royale National Park

While the Houghton Visitor Center is closed to all non-essential visitors due to coronavirus concerns, Isle Royale and its surrounding islands are closed to all visitors from November 1 to April 15 annually, anyway.

Minnesota

Located at the northern extremity of the state near the Canadian border, Voyageurs National Park is still welcoming visitors.

Voyageurs National Park

The Rainy Lake Visitor Center closed until further notice on March 19, but the park remains open.

Missouri

One of the few national parks located directly in a major U.S. city, the Gateway Arch and other associated sites, are closed to the public for the foreseeable future.

Gateway Arch National Park

As of March 18, the Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse are temporarily closed until further notice. The grounds at the Arch will remain open for walking and biking in St. Louis. Those who have pre-purchased tram ride tickets will be given automatic refunds.

Montana

All non-essential businesses are closed in Montana through April 10, but only parts of Glacier National Park are off limits.

Glacier National Park

As of  March 21, the Apgar Visitor Center and Bookstore closed until further notice. While the rest of the park is technically open to visitors, many of its roads are still closed for the winter.

Nevada

Even though the Las Vegas strip has gone silent, outdoor space about 300 miles north at Great Basin National Park is open.

Great Basin National Park

At noon on March 25, Great Basin National Park will close its Lower Lehman Creek Campground. Outdoor spaces will remain accessible to the public—yet the park notes that medical care is at least an hour away.

New Mexico

Home to the newest national park in the NPS system, New Mexico has closed White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns' namesake until further notice.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

As of March 21, the cavern and visitor center are temporarily closed. However, park roads, desert trails, and picnic areas remain open to the public.

White Sands National Park

White Sands—the newest national park in the U.S. after it was re-designated from a national monument in December 2019—is temporarily closed until further notice following guidance from the CDC.

North Carolina/Tennessee

a tree with a mountain in the background: Great Smoky Mountains National Park. © WerksMedia - Getty Images Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

America’s most visited national park borders two states and drew 12.5 million guests in 2019, which the NPS is trying to limit right now in 2020.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Because of the crowds Great Smoky Mountains is known to draw, all park areas—excluding the Foothills Parkway and the Spur—closed on Tuesday, March 24 to slow the spread of COVID-19. Currently the park is set to reopen on Tuesday, April 7.

North Dakota

So far, there are only a few dozen confirmed coronavirus cases in North Dakota.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

As of March 18, visitor centers at the park are temporarily closed, but the rest of the park remains open to guests.

Ohio

A shelter-in-place order went into effect in Ohio on March 24, but outdoor activity is still allowed in the state, so its one national park is open for people to use for exercise.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Park trails, parking lots, and some restrooms are open in the park, but the Boston Mill Visitor Center is closed until further notice.

Oregon

A majority of the state’s COVID-19 cases are in the northwestern part of the state near the Portland area, however, Oregon’s one national park located closer to the southern border is closed indefinitely.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is completely closed to all park visitors until further notice.

South Carolina

South Carolina’s sole national park isn’t closed, but facilities are restricted making visits difficult.

Congaree National Park

Congaree’s Harry Hampton Visitor Center and all restrooms are temporarily closed from March 22 onward. The Longleaf and Bluff Campgrounds closed on March 20 until further notice.

South Dakota

While the state’s famous Mount Rushmore National Memorial will continue to be illuminated every night from sunset until 11:00 p.m., many facilities at its two national parks are being closed for the time being.

Badlands National Park

From March 18 onward, the visitor centers and entrance stations will remain closed at Badlands National Park, though roads, trails, and campgrounds will remain open.

Wind Cave National Park

While the park visitor center is closed now through April 15, park roads, hiking trails, and the Elk Mountain campground are currently open. Cave tours had already been suspended due to pending elevator repairs.

Texas

Both of Texas’s national parks are open to day use, but have closed facilities and are not allowing people to spend the night within the parks.

Big Bend National Park

As of March 23, Big Bend National Park remains open to day use but all of its campgrounds and lodges are closed and river trips are canceled.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

As of March 18, Guadalupe Mountains National Park remains open to the public and trails are accessible for day use only. The visitor center and all contact stations are temporarily closed.

Utah

None of Utah’s five national parks have closed entirely, but you’ll want to check before you visit to see if certain trails are open and if there will be access to restrooms.

Arches National Park

While the park remains open, its facilities are restricted. Arches Visitor Center and its park bookstore are both closed temporarily. There is no entry into the Fiery Furnace currently and the Devils Garden Campground is closed through April 18. Backpacking permits are also not being offered at this time.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The park is open and restrooms are currently available at several locations, but the north campground is open to reservations only and the visitor center is closed. If you’d like to shop the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association Bookstore, it is still open online (purchases over $10 will be shipped for free).

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands also remains open, but several visitor centers and campgrounds are closed through April, as are private and commercial river trips.

Capitol Reef National Park

The visitor center, bookstore, and the Fruita campground are all closed until further notice but the public can still access trails inside the park.

Zion National Park

As of March 24, Zion National Park closed its popular Angels Landing Trail from Scout Lookout to the end of the trail (the West Rim Trail will remain open). Park campgrounds will close from March 25 onward, while all Zion Lodge operations closed on March 20 and will remain that way through May 21, 2020.

Virginia

Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park remains open to the public. However, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is urging people to stay away from the Appalachian Trail.

Shenandoah National Park

One hundred miles of the Appalachian Trail runs through Shenandoah national parklands. All hiking huts and cabins are closed currently in the park, but it is physically impossible to block access to the trailheads.

“With crowding from day hikers reaching unmanageable levels and the lack of any staff or volunteers to manage this traffic, it is necessary that all hikers avoid accessing the trail,” the Appalachian Trail Conservancy said in a statement.

Washington

Washington state’s three national parks haven’t closed entirely per se, but because most of them are closing all park entrance roads, access will be essentially off limits to most of the public.

Mount Rainier National Park

In addition to visitor centers, restrooms, and the Mount Rainier National Park Inn and gift shop, the roads are currently closed to all vehicle access (including bikes) until further notice. The Nisqually Entrance is also closed to pedestrian traffic. The only part of the park that is open to the public is the backcountry, as it allows for dispersed hiking and winter camping.

North Cascades National Park

As of March 25, North Cascades National Park is suspending all services including restrooms, collecting trash, campgrounds, boat ramps, and visitor information and services.

Olympic National Park

All park campgrounds and visitor centers at Olympic National Park are closed as of March 22. Access to park wilderness is limited due to the closure of most park entrance roads. For backcountry permit questions, contact the Wilderness Information Center.

Wyoming

a group of clouds in the sky: Castle Geyser erupting in Yellowstone. © Riishede - Getty Images Castle Geyser erupting in Yellowstone.

Effective March 24, two of America’s most iconic national parks—Yellowstone and Grand Teton—are both closed to all visitors until further notice.

Grand Teton National Park

Even though Grand Teton will be off limits to all visitors, armchair travelers can check out a live webcam of the park and take virtual tours through the park’s famous sites including summiting the peak of Grand Teton. The nearby town of Jackson Hole also has a series of live webcams, including a view of its Elk Refuge.

Yellowstone National Park

Same goes for Yellowstone. Even though it’s unclear when the park will reopen its gates you can still “visit” virtually and see a livestream of Old Faithful. If you lack the time to wait around and see if the famous geyser will go off, you can also explore other park sites on virtual tours.

U.S. Territories

Two of America’s national parks are located outside of the 50 states, in U.S. territories including the island of St. John in the Caribbean and over in the South Pacific in American Samoa. Access is also restricted at these parks, despite their remote locations.

National Park of American Samoa

The American Samoan Government issued a travel restriction to anyone arriving from a U.S. state with confirmed coronavirus cases, which prevents most U.S. citizens from entering the South Pacific territory anyway. For those who live in American Samoa, all trails are open at the national park except for the Mt. Alava Adventure Trail. The visitor center in Pago Pago is also closed.

Virgin Islands National Park

As of March 23, trails and beaches at this Caribbean national park remain open. However, the Cruz Bay Visitor Center is closed as well as all restrooms. Food service and watersports rental at Trunk Bay are also not available until further notice.

This is a developing story. Check the National Parks Active Alerts page for updates on individual park closures, as well as information about other national park service sites including monuments and historic sites. For details about local state park closures, check with local authorities before visiting.

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