Two Of US’s Most Popular National Parks To Reopen From COVID Closures

Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks will begin reopening to the public next week after they were closed due to concerns officials had related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The parks will open to the public on May 18 after officials closed them to visitors March 24 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the National Park Service said in a pair of press statements Wednesday. The NPS noted that the reopening was done with guidance from the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 83,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., which originated in China before spreading worldwide.

Grand Teton National Park Deputy Acting Deputy Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cameron Sholly worked with Wyoming Republican Gov. Mark Gordon to make the decision to reopen the two parks.

“These are incredible places that are special to the American public. I appreciate Superintendent Sholly and Acting Superintendent Noojibail for working with Governor Gordon and health officials to make the parks accessible to the public,” Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt wrote in the statement. The NPS is an agency of the Department of the Interior.

(RELATED: National Park Quietly Removed Warning That Glaciers ‘Will All Be Gone’ By 2020 After Years Of Heavy Snowfall)

Former energy lobbyist David Bernhardt testifies before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on his nomination of to be Interior secretary, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Former energy lobbyist David Bernhardt testifies before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on his nomination of to be Interior secretary, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Yellowstone is working on a three-phase plan to open the South and East entrances of the park, and will limit visitor travel to the southern area of the park. Visitors will have access to Lake Canyon, Old Faithful, and other select areas. The NPS said Montana’s entrances will remain closed after Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock raised concerns about reopening.

Grand Teton will also have limited public access, with road access and some public restroom areas open, day-use hiking on some trails, lakeshore fishing, and limited biking and wildlife tours, according to the statement. Other areas will remain unavailable to the public due to health concerns.

“This plan is designed to protect employees, visitors and community members. Spring in Teton County would just not be the same without the opportunity to appreciate Grand Teton National Park up close,” Gordon said in the statement.

Yellowstone is the country’s sixth-most popular national park, with 4 million visitors in 2019. Grand Teton, meanwhile, is the eighth-most popular national park, with 3.4 million visitors in 2019. Yellowstone is located in three states — Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

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