National Parks Are Reopening: What To Know Before Visiting This Summer
Summer is synonymous with national park visits. This year, however, you can expect closed trails and limited amenities, as park rangers work to maintain social distancing guidelines and keep parks safe for everyone. That said, you can go camping at many of them: Most campgrounds are open, though many are operating with reduced capacity, several now require advance reservations, and those on a first-come-first-served basis are filling up quickly. Wherever you go, be sure to check individual park websites for the most up-to-date information, as access can change by the day—and some parks have closed again altogether as new COVID-19 concerns arise. And do reserve ahead, wherever possible, on Recreation.gov to ensure you get to experience your chosen park, when you want to.
As of July 4th, most parks are again charging entrance fees. Buy an America the Beautiful pass ahead of time for contactless access at park gates. You can also use the pass when registering for day-use entries at the handful of parks requiring those this year—including Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Note: Photocopies or a saved photo of the pass on your smartphone won’t be accepted at the gate. You must bring the physical pass with you.
We’ll be updating this story as new information comes in. Sign-up for our weekly park opening newsletter for the latest news.
Reopening Status of Every National Park from A—Z
Acadia National Park, Maine
Open. Park Loop Road, most hiking trails, Jordan Pond House Restaurant, and most concessions are open. The main visitor center is closed, but Information stations are staffed outside. Campgrounds will not reopen this season. As of June 26, out-of-state visitors not longer needed to quarantine on arrival if they test negative for COVID in their home state, bring proof, and sign a certificate. Visitors from New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania are exempt from these requirements and may now lodge anywhere in Maine without quarantine or prior COVID testing.
Arches National Park, Utah
Open. All park roads, including Scenic Drive, trails, and restrooms, and select commercial operations have reopened. Visitor centers, park stores, The Fiery Furnace, backcountry camping, and Devils Garden Campground remain closed. Tip: Before you go, check Twitter for the latest updates on parking lot capacity, and more.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Open. All roads, trails and campgrounds in the North Unit are open. Ben Reifel Visitor Center has reopened at limited capacity (daily 9am—4pm). South Unit remain closed.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Open. The park reopened for day-use only on August 7, following a month-long closure due to a case of COVID-19 within the park. Most paved roads are open, as are most trails that start from open roads, including those in the Chisos Basin. Campgrounds and dirt roads remain closed.
Biscayne National Park, Florida
Open. Park waters are open to boaters, and the kayak launch and restroom at Convoy Point are open on a limited basis. Boca Chita, Elliott and Adams Keys have reopened on a limited basis, for day use only (no overnight camping). The visitor center remains closed.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Open. Colorado’s least-crowded national park has resumed operations along South Rim Drive, North Rim, and Inner Canyon Routes, all of which are open to day use. South Rim, North Rim, and East Portal campgrounds reopened June 12—with reservations strongly recommended. The South Rim Visitor Center remains closed, but rangers are staffing a desk outside to issue permits and answer questions.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Open. The main road, all viewpoints, visitor center, trails, and restrooms have reopened. Sunset Campground has reopened by reservation only. The General Store, bathrooms, showers and laundry have all resumed operations. The park shuttle is running from 8am—8pm with social-distancing restrictions in place. The Lodge at Bryce Canyon has reopened for overnight lodging and is offering take-out meal service from its restaurant.
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Open. All roads, trails, restrooms, and park stores operated by Canyonlands Natural History Association at Island in the Sky and The Needles are open. Island in the Sky and The Needles campgrounds have reopened and backcountry and river permits are being issued—reserve all of these, online. Visitor centers and Parking lots and trails may be crowded, especially at Island in the Sky. Wait times at the entrance gate may exceed 30 minutes.
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Open. Utah’s least-visited national park has fully reopened, including campgrounds, trails, visitor center, and Fruita Campground. Social distancing measures have been implemented in enclosed public areas and campgrounds. Canyoning in Burro, Cottonwood, FiveMile, and Shinob Canyon (Na-gah, Nighthawk, Timpie) is off limits through August, due to natural resource concerns.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
Open. Cave tours have resumed, with social-distancing restrictions. Entrance tickets are now limited to 575 people per day, on a first-come-first-served basis, via the visitor center only. The first cavern entry is at 8:30 am and the last entry at 2 pm. All entrances will be one-way and elevator passengers will be limited to families or groups traveling together. Arrive early: Tickets have been known to sell out before 9.30am. Outside the cavern, all desert trails and park roads are open. The bat flight amphitheater is closed daily from 5—8pm, but the bat flight can still be viewed from the east parking lot, past the visitor center.
Channel Islands National Park, California
Open. Island Packers and Santa Barbara Adventure Company have both resumed boat and kayaking trips with reduced (40%) capacity. The visitor center remains closed due to construction.
Congaree National Park, South Carolina
Open. The entrance road, parking lots, picnic shelter, Weston Lake Loop Trail, Sims Trail, Bluff Trail, River Trail, and Longleaf Trail have all reopened. The backcountry continues to be open and park rangers have resumed issuing backcountry camping permits. All other campgrounds, the visitor center, Boardwalk, restrooms and vault toilets remain closed.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Open. Trails and roads are reopening as they normally would at this time of year—with snow clearing still in effect in many places. Crater Lake Lodge, Mazama Village Cabins, and Mazama Campground are open. Most concessions, including Rim Village Gift Shop, ae also open, for take-out service. The Backcountry Office is issuing permits. Boat tours have been canceled for the season. Both park visitor centers remain closed.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Open. Most trails, restrooms, and parking lots are open. The visitor center is partially closed but rangers are available at the Boston Mill train boarding station every day.
Death Valley National Park, California / Nevada
Open. All normally open park roads, trails, and overlooks are accessible. Park camping and lodging at nearby Stovepipe Wells have also resumed, along with take-out meals. The Oasis at Death Valley store and gas station has reopened; Panamint Springs Resort has reopened for camping and lodging; its restaurant is keeping limited hours and has outdoor seating. Further re-openings, as part of California’s Phase 3.3, are currently being determined. Summer heat warnings are in effect—and the park registered 128 degrees Fahrenheit on July 12—the hottest temperature recorded on earth since 2017. The heat wave is expected to continue: If you go, go early in the day, and bring lots of water and salty snacks. Or, turn up the a/c and drive along the park’s Scenic Byway instead.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Open. Denali Park Rd is open to mile 30. Most campsites are open; Sanctuary and Igloo (7 sites each) reopened July 1 with camper bus service. Outdoor visitor centers are newly open in front of Denali and Eielson visitors centers; the first narrated bus tours resumed in the park on July 1—Tundra Wilderness Tours, which go about 56 miles into the park, will be the only narrated tours this season. Some driving permits will be available, on a timed-entry basis. The 2020 Denali/Foraker climbing season is suspended, the Murie Science and Learning Center will not open this summer, and sled dog kennels will stay closed this summer. Wonder Lake Campground may also remain closed this season.
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Open. One of the least-visited parks in the system is once again accessible by ferry boat and seaplane. Garden Key, including Fort Jefferson, and Loggerhead Key, are all open from sunrise to sunset. Garden Key Campground has reopened, as have restrooms and the island bookstore.
Everglades National Park, Florida
Open. Royal Palm including the Anhinga Trail, Research Road, Long Pine Key picnic area/trails, West Lake, Guy Bradley Trail, Flamingo Day Use area, and Coastal Prairie Trail are open. You can also rent canoes, kayaks and skiffs at Flamingo.
Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri
Open. Most park grounds are accessible. Visitors now enter the Arch through the west entrance, at Fourth Street and the Old Courthouse. Timed tickets are required to enter the visitor center and museum, which are open. The tram to the top of the arch resumed operations on September 2, with limited capacity (book ahead).
Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
Open. Limited visitor services.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Open. Park and campgrounds open with limited visitor services.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Open. The fabled Going-to-the-Sun Road opened to cars for the first time this season on Monday, July 13. The West side of the park is largely open, including its entrance gates. The east side, from the Continental Divide to the park boundary, is closed. Campground reopened for the season on June 26, by reservation. Lake McDonald Lodge and the Village Inn have also reopened, with take-out service. Other campgrounds are expected to remain closed for the summer season and Glacier National Park Lodges has postponed the reopening of their lodging and food service. Check Glacier’s Twitter account before you go, for Going-to-the-Sun Road closures.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Open. The South Rim Entrance is the only way in for park day trippers—and it’s back to being open 24/7. The North Rim has re-opened for overnight guests only. The East Entrance is closed. Day hiking is possible on Inner Canyon trails, the Rim Trail, Greenway Trail system, and East Desert View Drive. Tuweep and the Tuweep Campground, and most lodging in and around the park, including El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Lodge, are all open. Mathers Campground has reopened to existing reservations only. Existing camping permits will be honored, but no new overnight camping permits will be issued. Heat warnings are in effect, so if you go, go early or late in the day, bring lots of water and salty snacks to stay hydrated. Check Grand Canyon’s Twitter account for timely updates.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Open. Day-use hiking on seasonally-accessible trails are open, as is Riverbank and lakeshore fishing. Public restrooms in some areas are open. Viewpoints on US Highway 89/26/191 are accessible. Campgrounds have opened, along with some cabins. Take-away food services have started at select locations and some stores have reopened.
Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Open: Almost every area of this uncrowded park has re-opened, including scenic drives, trailheads, and most campgrounds. Visitor centers and Wheeler Peak campground remain closed.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Open. Most trails, all picnic areas, the Entrance Station, Main Park Road, Dunes parking area, and Medano Pass Primitive Road opened as part of Phase 1 in early June. Phase 2 reopening began June 17, with access to Pinon Flats Campground Loop 1 and Loop 2, including restroom facilities, and overnight backcountry access, including the dune field and sites along the Sand Ramp Trail. Reservations from June 17—onward will be honored for the Pinon Flats Campground. The visitor center remains closed.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee / North Carolina
Open. Almost every trail and picnic area, plus most restrooms, concessions, and visitors centers have reopened. Cades Cove, Smokemont, and, more recently, Elkmont, campgrounds have also reopened, while the rest of the park’s campgrounds remain closed. LeConte Lodge, Sugarlands Riding Stables, Cades Cove Riding Stables, Cades Cove Campstore, and Smokemont Riding Stables have also reopened; Smoky Mountain Riding Stables remains closed.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
Open. Devil’s Hall Trail, Guadalupe Peak Trail, Smith Springs Trail, and the Frijole Ranch Area have all reopened, with port-a-johns available at trailheads. The visitor center, contact stations, camping, public restrooms, and ranches remain closed.
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
Open. The Summit District of Haleakalā; Hosmer Grove Trail; Supply Trail from Hosmer Grove to Halemauˈu Trail junction; Leleiwi Overlook Trail; Pā Ka’oao (White Hill) Trail; and Headquarters Visitor Center public restrooms are now open daily from 9am-5pm. Park fees are temporarily waived. The park has reopened for sunrise viewing, available by reservation on Recreation.gov up to seven days in advance ($1).
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Open. Most roads have reopened to cars, hikers, and cyclists, including Chain of Craters Road to Kealakomo Overlook. The Kahuku Unit is open on Saturdays and Sundays only (9am—4pm) with no entrance fee.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Open. Trails, scenic drives and overlooks, picnic areas, the Grand Promenade, and Gulpha Gorge Campground are all open. The brand-new, 0.65-mile Pullman Trail also opened on June 24, connecting hikers and mountain bikers from downtown Hot Springs to the Northwoods Trails through a section of Hot Springs National Park. The visitor center is closed, but services are available from the front porch of the Fordyce Bathhouse.
Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
Open. All park trails, most beaches, restrooms, Dunewood Campground, Buell Memorial Visitor Center, and Center for Environmental Education have reopened.
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Open. Most campsites, trails, and docks have reopened, along with visitor centers operating with limited hours. No visitor ferry or lodge service will be offered for the 2020 summer season, however. To get there, you’ll need to fly with Isle Royale Seaplanes or pilot a private boat; you can anchor your boat with an advance permit.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Open: All trails, family campsites, most bathroom facilities, park entrances, roads, and parking lots are open. Visitor centers and group campsites are closed. All campsites will be first-come, first-served until September 4.
Katmai National Park, Alaska
Open. The Brooks Camp Developed Area (BCDA)—the park’s popular bear-watching area—reopened for day-use visits on August 8, following a temporary closure due to positive coronavirus cases within the park. Areas outside the BCDA are also open and the famous bear cam remains operational. The camp will stay closed for the season. The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes Tour will not operate this year.
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Open. Park including the Exit Glacier area are open. Public buildings closed. HQ building, Exit Glacier area winter public use cabin, and Exit Glacier area vault toilets, are closed to the public.
Kubuk Valley National Park, Alaska
Open. Park is open. Northwest Arctic Heritage Center closed.
Lake Clark National Park, Alaska
Open. Public spaces outside of the main areas are open. Port Alsworth Park HQs, visitor center and public cabins are closed.
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Open. Most park activities have returned to normal, including concessions, trails, and camping. The visitor center is closed, but a ranger is outside daily from 10am—4pm. Manzanita Lake has closed to river otter dangers. There is no gas available in the park, so fill up your tank before entering.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Open. Caves are open, on a reduced schedule and with limited space. Advance reservations advised; the tours often sell out. For same day availability, call the park directly ast 270-758-2180. Trails are open for hiking, biking and equestrian use. Backcountry campsites and shelters are open, but with reduced capacity.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Open. Most roads and select hiking trails are open. Cliff Dwellings are closed and tours are canceled until further notice, but there are many viewpoints available. Morefield Campground, Far View Terrace Cafe and Gift Shop, and Far View Lodge are open. Mesa Verde Research & Visitors Center, Archeological Museum Cliff Dwellings, and Wetherill Mesa are closed.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Open Most trails and roads are open—those that aren’t are normally closed at this time of year due to snow. Campgrounds are open for day use; overnight camping is happening in stages due to tree hazards.; backcountry camping is available by permit only (online). The National Park Inn is open for overnight guests; Paradise Inn is still closed. Visitor centers remain closed. The entrance road to the park’s northwest entrance sustained winter damage; visitors can park their cars by the side of the road and walk or bike into the park.
National Park of American Samoa
Open: Visitor center and camping are closed. Anyone transiting via a COVID affected state must quarantine first for 14 days in Hawaii and acquire health clearance 3-days before entry into American Samoa.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
Open. Trails and campgrounds are open; Stehekin marina and public docks have resumed operations; and the wilderness Information Center is open for info and permits. Backcountry campsites and overnight stays are also allowed. Visitor centers and group campsites in Goodell, Colonial, and Newhalem remain closed. The Cascade River Road is seasonally closed. Note: Many trails have yet to be assessed or cleared, so expect closures.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Open. Most of the popular areas have now all reopened for day use, including: Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rainforest, and Rialto Beach. The Ridge Visitor center has reopened, for access to restrooms only—park rangers are stationed outside for information. Hurricane View Café, park lodges and resorts have all reopened and are serving take-out meals. Lake Crescent Kayak and Canoe Rentals has resumed operations. Backpacking permits resumed July 8 for overnight camping in coastal wilderness with the exception of Second Beach and Shi Shi Beach, which remain closed.
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Open. Park road, trails, overlooks, and backcountry are now open. Most facilities remain closed, including campgrounds. Wilderness camping permits aren’t being issued.
Pinnacles National Park, California
Open. East and West entrances are both open to vehicles, through to parking lots. Day-use entry is by foot or bicycle only. Campgrounds are open to those with pre-existing reservations. Park shuttle service remains non-operational. Visitor centers and High Peaks remain closed. Heat warnings are in effect, so if you go, go early or late in the day, bring lots of water and salty snacks to stay hydrated.
Redwood National Park, California
Open. All campgrounds, trails, and scenic drives are open, including Tall Tree Grove. Visitor centers remain closed in both the national and state park.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Open. Anyone who intends to visit must have a timed-entry or campsite reservation via recreation.gov and an entrance pass. Timed tickets are available online through August 31. Visitors may be delayed on entering or asked to return later if visitation and congestion warrants. The popular Alluvial Fan trail is closed to visitors from July 27—September 24 for trail maintenance.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Open. Hiking trails are open, but some roads are subject to delays and closures. Camping, visitor centers, and restrooms remain closed.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California
Open. Entrance stations, roads and parking lots throughout both parks, including in the Cedar Grove and Mineral King areas; trails in developed areas and designated wilderness; restrooms and picnic areas are all open. The Sequoia Shuttle will not be in operation this summer, and camping reservations will be required, at recreation.gov. Visitor centers, bookstores, ranger stations and wilderness permit stations remain closed.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Open. The park is now open 24/7, including all overlooks, Skyline Drive, most trails, and picnic areas, and bathrooms. The Park Store at Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51) is operating Thursday—Monday only (10am—5pm). Campgrounds have also reopened, but at 50 per cent capacity to meet the Forward Virginia guidelines. Pre-existing reservations will be honored but no new reservations can be made. What is available on any given day will be offered on a limited, first-come-first-served basis. A 20-foot separation between campsites is required to encourage social distancing. The backcountry, including shelters and huts, is open for overnight camping.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Open. All trails, picnic areas, backcountry camping and The Elkhorn Ranch Unit are open (and summer is the best time to visit). Visitors can access South Unit Visitor Center, trails, picnic areas, roads, and backpack camping. Painted Canyon and North Unit visitor centers and campgrounds remain closed.
U.S. Virgin Islands National Park, U.S. Virgin Islands
Open. Trails, beaches, parking areas, and waters are open. Visitor Center, programs, and restroom are closed. Only mooring fees are being collected.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Open. Day use and water access, overnight tent camping and houseboat mooring sites are all open. Visitor centers are closed.
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Open. Most areas of the park have reopened for visitors, including Dunes Drive, hiking trails, picnic areas, and restrooms. A walk-up visitor information table has been set up and sleds are available for sale at the gift shop. Sunset Stroll, campgrounds, and all group-use areas remain closed.
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
Open. Loops A and B in the Elk Mountain Campground are accessible. 30 miles of hiking trails are open. Visitor center, cave tours, and campground Loops C and D remain closed.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska
Open. Many trails, including Erie Mine Trail, Root Glacier Trail, Bonanza Mine Trail, and Jumbo Mine Trail are open. Off-road permits are also being issued. Select visitor services have also resumed from 9am—5pm, including Copper Center, Theater & Exhibit Hall (at limited capacity) and restrooms. Interpretative Rangers are available by phone.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming / Montana
Open. The South, East, and North entrances are all open to visitors—but expect delays on the North Side. Visitors can access the Lower Loop, with Lake, Canyon, Norris, Old Faithful, West Thumb, and Grant Village. Bridge Bay campground, Madison campground, Old Faithful cabins, Grant Village campground, and Lake Village cabins have resumed operations, but other park lodging remains closed. Food services are operating on a to-go status only. Tip: Check Yellowstone’s Twitter account for the latest updates and ranger tips.
Yosemite National Park, California
Open. Top attractions are all open. Visitors can only access the park via a new day-use pass system which was instituted in June and which is working well, by all accounts. 1,700 day passes are available per day and an additional 1,900 passes are available for campsite and hotel reservations within the park. Following new COVID concerns in June, campground access was canceled through July 31 at Bridalveil Horse Camp, Crane Flat, Hodgdon Meadow, Lower Pines, North Pines, and Tuolumne Meadows. Capacity at Upper Pines has also been reduced by 50%. Refunds will be issued for anyone with reservations during this time.
Zion National Park, Utah
Open. Multiple trails are open for day use. The popular 1.2-mile Lower Emerald Pools Trail reopened in early July following months of repairs. It’s accessible from the Zion Canyon Lodge.Canyon Trail Rides is open, as are Zion lodge and bookstore, with limited hours and services. Park shuttles resumed July 1, with reduced capacity and tickets required (book ahead through Recreation.gov; $1)—cars are not allowed on Scenic Drive while the shuttle is in operation. Watchman Campground has reopened with reservations; South and Lava Point campgrounds remain closed. Kolob Canyons also remain closed. Tip: Park rangers are closely monitoring park capacity, so be sure to check Twitter for Zion’s latest updates on parking before you go.
We’ll be updating this story as new information comes in. Check back frequently for updates or sign-up for our newsletter to learn how/ which parks are opening near you.
Last updated September 4, 2020.