U.S. National Parks are Reopening to Visitors: What You Need to Know
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U.S. National Parks are Reopening to Visitors: What You Need to Know

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As travelers try to plan summer travel, road trips and visits to U.S. National Parks are at the top of the list for many. One problem? Most national parks remained closed throughout May.

But June is bringing good news: Phased reopenings for many of these beloved parks. Those timelines vary park-by-park, based on their location and home state. Yet nearly every major park in the U.S. is taking steps toward a phased reopening, making these parks an option for your summer travel.

Thrifty Tip: Thinking of taking a road trip this summer? Read our guides to planning the perfect road trip, how to book the cheapest rental car, and the best ways to use points and miles on a road trip.

Wondering which parks are open and what it will look like when you get there? Here’s a look at some of the most popular national parks in the country, organized alphabetically.

 

Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks began opening back up on May 29. With their phased reopening approach, the two parks in eastern Utah have opened all park roads, trails, and restrooms. Backcountry and climbing permits are available again as well.

Visitor centers, park stores, a few campgrounds, and visitor attractions like the Fiery Furnace remain closed. They’ve also suspended entrance fee collection at both Arches and Canyonlands until further notice.

More info on Arches and Canyonlands here.

 

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon in Utah is already open, but expect limited services. Most roads, viewpoints, trails, parking, restrooms, and shuttles have resumed. According to their website, a few more services will open up throughout the early summer:

  • On June 15, private horse use reservations will resume
  • By July 1, backcountry trails and permits for backcountry camping will be permitted

There are no plans to reopen park food service or the park lodge. The National Park Service recommends visiting early to avoid crowds and driving through some of the scenic areas.
 

 

More info on Bryce Canyon here.

 

Glacier National Park

After closing down to visitors starting March 24, Glacier National Park began a limited opening on June 8.

The park is putting up protective barriers, encouraging the use of masks when social distancing is not possible, requiring more frequent cleaning of facilities, and adding signage in public spaces.

East entrances from the Blackfeet Reservation are still not possible.

More info on Glacier here.

 

Grand Canyon National Park

The National Park Service has provided the following information on what is currently closed and open in one of the nation’s most popular national parks.

Currently closed:

  • The East Entrance to the park at Desert View and the Desert View Watchtower area is closed. Use the South Entrance near the town of Tusayan to enter and exit the park.
  • South Rim shuttle buses are not in operation.
  • All visitor centers and museums are closed.
  • Hermit Road is closed to cars. Access by foot or bicycle is permitted.

Currently open:

  • The South Rim’s South Entrance is now open 24 hours/day.
  • Day hiking on inner canyon trails and existing backcountry permits for hikers camping overnight is permitted. No new overnight camping permits for the inner canyon are currently available.
  • The Canyon Rim Trail and the GreenwayTrail system are open.
  • Mather Campground is open, but only for existing reservations.
  • Trailer Village is open.

You’ll have to pay entrance fees at automated fee machines or by purchasing a pass in advance online.

More info on the Grand Canyon here.

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is opening with a phased approach.

Many roads, visitor centers, concession stands, and restrooms are now open. For the full list of which are currently open and closed, visit the Great Smoky Mountains page below.

More info on the Great Smoky Mountains here.

 

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks roads, trails, restrooms, and picnic areas opened June 4. But most facilities (including visitor centers, restaurants permit stations, and more) remain closed until further notice.

According to the NSP Sequoia site, these are the key changes for the summer season:

  • The Sequoia Shuttle will not be running.
  • Camping reservations will be required. No walk-up campsites will be available.
  • Reservations for overnight wilderness permits will be required.
  • Lodgepole Visitor Center will not be open.
  • Crystal Cave will not be open for tours.

More info on Sequoia here.

 

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park opened its Wyoming entrances on May 18, and the Montana entrances were opened June 1. Now, all entrances are open.

As of June 1, restrooms, self-service gas stations, trails, boardwalks, entrance stations, medical clinics, approved tours, takeout food service, and some recreation including boating and fishing are open for visitors.
 

 

The park is currently only open for day use, but some limited overnight lodging is expected to reopen in late June. Campgrounds, visitor centers, and other facilities will remain closed.

More info on Yellowstone here.

 

Yosemite National Park

 

Zion National Park

Limited operations began in Zion on May 22. The park is open for day use only, and parking is limited to control how many visitors can enter the park.

The Kolob Canyons are closed, and shuttle buses are not in operation.

More info on Zion here.

 

Don’t see the national park you’re hoping to visit on this list? Use the “Find a Park” tool on the National Park Service website to find more information on any U.S. national park.

 

Bottom Line

If you’re ready for some fresh air and stunning natural scenery, add a road trip to some of the best U.S. National Parks to your bucket list this summer.

Although most are not yet back to full normal, many are slowly reopening to welcome visitors in a limited capacity this summer. Just be sure you read up on the National Parks Service updates before heading out so you know what to expect before arriving.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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