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National Parks Are Reopening: What To Know Before Visiting This Holiday

by | Sep 15, 2020

As national parks reopen following COVID-19 closures, access can change from day to day. Plan your visit with our comprehensive guide to the reopening status of all 62 national parks.

Summer may be synonymous with National Park visits, but autumn has its own quieter, and more colorful, appeal. 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—whether due to new COVID-19 concerns arise, weather conditions, or fires. Be sure to reserve ahead, wherever possible, on Recreation.gov to ensure you get to experience your chosen park, when you want to. Finally, if you plan to visit more than two parks in the next calendar year, buy an America the Beautiful pass ahead of time for contactless access at park.

Need inspiration? See our top parks for fall; best parks for social distancing; and uncrowded alternatives to popular parks. Plus: RVing has become a popular way to visit this year; if you’re new to this kind of travel, see our ultimate guide to RVing the National Parks to make the most of your visit.

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. Western Mountain Roads north of Seal Cove Road are closed to motor vehicles, but remain open to hiking and biking. The main visitor center is closed, but Information stations are staffed outside. Campgrounds will not reopen this season. Out-of-state visitors don’t need 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. Big Bend’s website bills the park as “partially” open following its summer re-closure due to a case of COVID-19 within the park. However, most paved roads are open, as are most trails that start from open roads (except Hot Springs Historic District and associated trails), and private and commercial Rio Grande River trips have also resumed. Chisos Campground has reopened and backcountry camping is available—both by reservation. Rio Grande Village RV Campground is operating at 50% capacity; Chisos Mountain Lodge has limited availability (reservations are required for both.) Select park stores and gas stations are also open daily. 

Biscayne National Park, Florida

Closed. As of Sunday, November 8th tourism services are temporarily closed due to Tropical Storm Eta. Boats may anchor for purposes of safe harbor at Boca Chita and Elliot Keys.

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. While park roads, desert trails, and picnic areas remain open, the following areas are currently closed, cavern and visitor center, including the gift shop, restaurant, and bookstore.

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. Crater Lake Lodge, Mazama Village Cabins, and Mazama Campground are open. Most concessions, including Rim Village Gift Shop, are 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. The road Park Headquarters leading to Rim Village has been closed. Although the North Entrance and Rim Drive are closed, the West and South Entrances are open. Ranger-guided snowshoe walks will not happen this season.

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. The park registered 128 degrees Fahrenheit on July 12—the hottest temperature recorded on earth since 2017. If temperatures soar again this season, 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 year; sled dog kennels will also stay closed to visitors this fall and winter. 

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Closed. As of Sunday, November 8th, one of the least-visited parks in the system is temporarily closed due to Tropical Storm Eta. Boats may seek harbor within the one nautical mile anchoring zone around Garden Kay, including Bird Key Harbor. 

Everglades National Park, Florida

Closed. As of Sunday, November 8th, tourism services are temporarily closed due to Tropical Storm Eta. Boats may anchor for purposes of safe harbor at Ponce De Leon Bay, the Little Shark River between marker 1 and marker 69, and the main tributary of the Shark River. The Flamingo Marina is closed.  

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 in 2020 on Monday, July 13. The road is currently open 24/7 between West Glacier and Rising Sun. 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. Loop B of the Apgar Campground opened for first-come, first served primitive camping on on September 25. Loop B will remain open for primitive camping through the winter. Lodges and concessions have closed for the season. Check Glacier’s Twitter account before you go, especially 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). As of October 15, 2020, visitors to Hawaii will no longer need to quarantine on arrival, if they meet pre-travel COVID tests and screening requirements. 

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. As of October 15, 2020, visitors to Hawaii will no longer need to quarantine on arrival, if they meet pre-travel COVID tests and screening requirements. 

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. All park visitor centers closed for the season as of September 26, 2020, including the Houghton, Rock Harbor, & Windigo Visitor Centers. No visitor ferry or lodge service is offered for the 2020 season due to COVID-19 restrictions. 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. Call (906) 482-0984 to discuss trip planning, obtain permits, and pay fees.

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. Manzanita Lake has closed to river otter dangers. There is no gas available in the park, so fill up your tank before entering. Camping is open at Southwest Campground only. Vehicle access is restricted to the Loomis Plaza and to the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and the remaining 28 miles of the park highway is closed.

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. Campgrounds, trails, and scenic drives are open, including Tall Tree Grove. Visitor centers remain closed in both the national and state park. Howland Hill Road is open to emergency evacuation traffic only. Highway 199 is open with intermittent closures due to fire activity. Open fires are prohibited. Check air quality before you go. 

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Open. Many areas on the east side reopened, including roads, parking areas and trails in Wild Basin, Longs Peak, Lily Lake, Twin Sisters, Lumpy Ridge and US 34 through the Fall River Entrance to Many Parks Curve as well as the Endovalley Road. Beaver Meadows Visitor Center to Deer Ridge Junction has reopened, including the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. The west side remains closed due to the impact of East Troublesome Fire and ongoing safety assessments. Construction between Beaver Meadows Entrance Station and Deer Ridge Junction continues. Expect up to 20-minute delays from 7 am to 5 pm in this area.  

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. The Mineral King area, South Fork area, and some wilderness areas in Sequoia remain closed due to wildfire concerns. Entrance stations, roads and parking lots throughout both parks, many trails, restrooms, and picnic areas are all open, however. The Sequoia Shuttle will not operate in 2020. Camping reservations are required (no walk-ins_. Visitor centers, bookstores, ranger stations and wilderness permit stations remain closed. Air quality warnings are in effect in both parks. 

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Open. The park is 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 all reopened at full capacity, some by reservation, others on a first-come-first-served basis. The backcountry, including shelters and huts, is open for overnight camping. Masks are required for entry into all facilities.

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. 

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: November 9, 2020 to reflect Rocky Mountain National Park partial reopening and Florida National Parks closure due to Tropical Storm Eta.