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Arches and Canyonlands National Parks reopen, share tips on recreating responsibly

Posted at 3:37 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 17:37:20-04

MOAB, Utah — The last two of Utah's five national parks reopened Friday after being closed for more than two months.

Arches and Canyonlands, which were both closed to visitors on March 28 due to coronavirus concerns, are again open to the public, but with limitations.

All roads, trails and restrooms in the parks are open, and "commercial operations as previously permitted" have resumed.

Visitor centers, park stores and certain campgrounds will remain closed for now. Backcountry permits and permits for climbing and canyoneering will be available starting Saturday.

Fee collection is not taking place at either park.

Utah's three other national parks — Zion, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef — reopened 2-3 weeks ago.

The National Park Service shared a video on its website with additional details on what is now open and what will remain closed at the two parks, along with instructions on keeping each other safe while visiting the parks, including:

  • Plan ahead: Research current rules and regulations before leaving. Check the parks' websites and social media pages (Arches reached capacity at about 9 a.m. Friday and had to turn away vehicles)
  • Stay home: Park rangers ask anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus recently to stay home.
  • Know your limits: Stick to low-risk activities, especially as temperatures rise. Injuries and heat-caused illnesses can put strain on the already limited medical resources and staff in the area.
  • Social distance: Avoid crowded areas, try to visit earlier in the day, keep six feet away from and wear a mask while around others, consider only visiting with members of your own household, and only park in designated areas. If the lot is full, do not park on shoulders or off-road.
  • Restrooms: Practice good hygiene including thorough hand-washing, use hand sanitizer before and after use, and keep six feet of social distance.