In light of the spread of COVID-19, trying to find out what is open and closed in our national parks is a moving target these days. The National Park Service is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health authorities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make its decisions on what to keep open or to close on a daily basis.
On Feb. 2, 2021, the National Park Service announced an across-the-board mask requirement for all parks and federal buildings, commenting that the mandate is to “protect the health of those who live, work and visit our national parks and facilities,” in a statement.
“Wearing a mask around others, physical distancing, and washing your hands are the simplest and most effective public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said NPS Office of Public Health Director Captain Sara Newman.
Under the order released Feb.2, face masks are required at all times in all National Park Service buildings and facilities. Masks are also required on park service-managed lands when physical distancing cannot be maintained, including narrow or busy trails. Additional public health measures may be in place at individual parks.
How to Be an Informed and Mindful Traveler
While the national parks reopening have made us cautiously optimistic about summer travel, we’ve identified 5 essential factors you should consider before you hit the road. And one last thing. Throw your propensity to assume out the window. As we’ve seen during this spring, there are no guarantees that businesses will stay open, virus cases will go down or stay-at-home orders will be a thing of the past.
1. Every state has its own rules that vary dramatically.
Each state has different quarantine orders that vary dramatically from state to state. Within states, orders can even vary from county to county or town to town. For instance, on the Olympic Peninsula, the Quileute Tribe has closed the Quileute Reservation to the general public until further notice. The Makah Tribe closed the Shi Shi Beach Trailhead to the general public until further notice. There will be no access to Shi Shi Beach from the north.
2. Not everything in the park will be open.
Just because a national park reopens does not mean everything within the park is open. For instance, not all Olympic’s hotels have opening dates. Tours and rentals in Olympic will most likely will not open. And the park may not open its full-service restaurants other than takeout menus. Be sure to check each park website to ensure that the services you need are available. Lastly, avoiding crowds and practicing Leave No Trace principles in the park are more essential now than ever with reduced park staff. We’ve teamed up with organizations and brands across the outdoor industry to help you make smart decisions on recreating to keep yourself and others healthy and to keep access to our beloved public places open. You can read more about how to #RecreateResponsibly.
3. Every town and local business is operating differently in this new normal.
Do advance research on what hotels and restaurants are open and what they are doing to keep customers and employees safe. Some restaurants may only offer take out. Others might have a long waiting list because they have fewer tables to keep people physically distanced. Some rafting companies may not offer trips this summer while others may be doing business as usual, with added safety measures. If you have a choice between local businesses and a national chain, consider supporting the local business.
4. Be mindful that you’re a visitor in someone’s hometown.
While you may feel footloose and fancy free after being cooped up for two months, don’t throw caution to the wind. Yes, wearing masks is awkward. No, you cannot throw yours out. People live in the towns you’re traveling through and they want to feel safe as they open up their economies. Many have tiny medical centers and are miles from the nearest full-service hospital. If a store posts a sign asking all customers to wear face masks, put on your face mask. Be the traveler you’d want to see visiting your town.
5. If you’re sick, stay home.
We’ve all done too much work staying at home and following health and safety precautions to have a COVID-19 resurgence take foot in our country. No one wants to get sick, so if you’re not feeling well or have signs of COVID-19, stay at home or if you’re on the road, head home immediately. Travel when you’re healthy.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is doing a phased reopening of the park. The Lake Crescent area is open for day use recreation. This includes the Barnes Point area with access to the Marymere Falls and Moments in Time trailheads and the Storm King boat launch. Bovee’s Meadow, La Poel and East Beach picnic areas are also accessible. The Spruce Railroad Trail is under construction and closed until the project is complete in fall 2020.
September 29, 2020 Update
Here is what is open:
The Hurricane Ridge area is open. Hurricane Ridge Road is currently open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm for access to restrooms only from the upper level. Rangers are available during Visitor Center hours. Note: The Hurricane Ridge Mountain View Café and Gift Shop closed for the season as of September 27, 2020.
Obstruction Point Road is open.
The Hoh Rain Forest area is open. Park Rangers are available outside the Visitor Center from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (except Wednesdays) through October. The Hoh Campground is open.
The Mora area including Rialto Beach is now open. Mora Campground is open and is now first-come, first-served until peak season 2021. All campsites are reservable during peak season and may be reserved online 6 months in advance at www.recreation.gov.
The Ozette area is open. Ozette Campground is open. The coastal wilderness area north of Cape Alava, including the Ozette reservation and Shi Shi Beach, remains closed to all park visitors until further notice.
The Kalaloch area is open. This includes Ruby Beach and Beaches 1-6. Park Rangers are available outside the Kalaloch Ranger Station from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm daily. Kalaloch Ranger Station will close for the season after September 28. Kalaloch Campground is open. South Beach Campground is now closed for the season as of September 28.
The Kalaloch Lodge and The Mercantile are open. Please see concessioner website for specific information on available services and operating hours.
The Lake Crescent area is open. This includes the Barnes Point area with access to the Marymere Falls and Moments in Time trailheads and the Storm King and Fairholme boat launches. East Beach, Bovee’s Meadow, La Poel and North Shore picnic areas are also open. Fairholme Campground is open. Fairholme Camprgound will close for the season November 2.
Note: The Spruce Railroad Trail is currently under construction and closed to all use for public safety until the project is complete in November 2020.
Lake Crescent Lodge – 2020 Season: May 29 – Oct. 25, 2020. Updates are available on their website. All dining at the lodge is open to lodging guests but offering takeout services only. Kayak, Canoe and Paddleboard rentals are available. Boat tours are not being offered this season. Visitors should reach out to the lodging concessioners for questions related to their level of operations.
The Sol Duc area is open. (Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort as well as the Sol Duc RV Park and Campground are closed for the season. Fairholme Campground at Lake Crescent is remaining open longer this year as an alternative.)
Heart O’ the Hills area is open. This includes the Heart O’ the Forest trailhead (parking and restroom available near the campground amphitheater) and Lake Angeles/Heather Park trailheads. Heart O’ the Hills Campground is open.
Elwha: Although the Elwha/Olympic Hot Springs Road is closed to vehicles at the Madison Falls parking area due to a road washout, the road is open to pedestrians, stock, bicyclists, and pets on leash. A toilet is open at the Madison Falls Trailhead.
The Quinault Rain Forest is open including area trails and the July Creek Picnic Area. North Fork Road and North Fork Campground (primitive) are open. Graves Creek Road and Graves Creek Campground (primitive) are open. The Ranger Station on North Shore Road remains closed .
The Staircase area and Staircase Campground are open as of September 25. Staircase Campground is currently primitive with vault toilets and no potable water.
Lower Queets Road and Upper Queets Road are open. Queets Campground (primitive) is open.
Deer Park Road and Deer Park Campground are open.
Park Rangers are available on the front porch at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles from 9 am to 4 pm daily. A table on the front porch is staffed with a Discover Your Northwest sales area. Staff are also available to answer phones and emails.
The Quileute Tribe has closed the Quileute Reservation to the general public until further notice. The Third Beach Trailhead is outside of this closure and remains open. If you have made a reservation for Second Beach and would like to make changes or cancel it, please contact the Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100 (Option 4) or email using the form at https://www.nps.gov/olym/contacts.htm.
The Makah Tribe closed the Shi Shi Beach Trailhead to the general public until further notice. There will be no access to Shi Shi Beach from the north. For more information on the closure, please visit the website for the Makah Tribe (https://makah.com/). If you have made a reservation for Shi Shi Beach and would like to make changes or cancel it, please contact the Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100 (Option 4) or email using the form at https://www.nps.gov/olym/contacts.htm.
Visitors can call the information line at (360) 565-3130 with general park questions or email the park on the popup form at www.nps.gov/olym/contacts.htm. Wilderness Information Center staff are available by phone at (360)565-3100 for questions about backpacking permits and reservations. Current road, campground, and weather information is also available by calling the park’s recorded line at (360) 565-3131, which is updated daily.
For information and updates on park lodges and restaurants, please check the website for Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, Sol Duc Hot Springs RV & Campground, Lake Crescent Lodge and Log Cabin Resort at www.olympicnationalparks.com/alerts/2020/covid-19-guest-updates as well as Kalaloch Lodge at www.thekalalochlodge.com/covid-19-updates.
For up-to-date information on Olympic National Park, visit www.nps.gov/olym/learn/news/index.htm
For campground alerts, reservations and more for Mora, Kalaloch Sol Duc Hot Springs campgrounds, go to www.recreation.gov/camping/gateways/2881
Follow Olympic National Park on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OlympicNPS/
Olympic National Forest
The Olympic National Forest is mostly open. Most day use sites and trailheads are open. As of Oct. 8, 2020, most campgrounds are closed for the season. Dispersed camping is allowed.
The latest updates and information can be found online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/olympic/home. Forest Service offices are currently providing virtual services and staff are available to answer questions by phone or email, during business hours which can be found here.
Mount Rainier National Park
- Park visitor centers. Look for rangers at outdoor information stations near the visitor centers.
- The Paradise Inn; visit mtrainierguestservices.com for updates on Inn operations.
- Sunrise Day Lodge closed for the winter season.
- Restrooms and trailheads throughout open road corridors.
- Most park roads. See Road Status for details. Some park roads are closed for maintenance or due to normal winter season closures.
- The park backcountry is accessible for dispersed recreation such as hiking and backcountry camping. Wilderness permits are required for all overnight use. Permit reservations, which cover through October 10, have closed for the season. Trips starting after October 10 will be by self registration only. Backpackers can self register at Longmire, Paradise, White River, and Carbon River.
- Cougar Rock & Ohanapecosh Campgrounds are open until October 12. White River Campground has closed for the season. Campground operations may change at any time throughout the summer due to required COVID-19 mitigations. See campground page for more information.
- The National Park Inn in Longmire for overnight guests. Hot grab and go food is available through the dining room. Visit mtrainierguestservices.com for updates on Inn operations.
- Longmire General Store providing gifts and grab-and-go food options.
- Climbing and upper mountain recreation to the summit. Check the climbing page for more information.
Updates to this temporary closure will be posted here and on Twitter @MountRainierNPS.
Learn more updates here at www.nps.gov/mora/learn/news/
Follow @MountRainierNPS on Twitter (twitter.com/MountRainierNPS) for winter access updates.
For Cougar Rock Campground, Cougar Rock Group Campground, Ohanapecosh Campground and Ohanapecosh Group Campground alerts, reservations and more for campgrounds, go to www.recreation.gov/camping/gateways/2835
Follow Mount Rainier National Park on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MountRainierNPS/
Other National Park Sites
The National Park Service has been updating its COVID-19 page daily with information about individual parks. You can visit it here: www.nps.gov/aboutus/news/public-health-update.htm
Updates about nationwide NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.
National Park Service to Temporarily Suspend Park Entrance Fees: www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/national-park-service-to-temporarily-suspend-park-entrance-fees.htm
National Park Service Is Modifying Operations to Implement Latest Health Guidance www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/statmentonparkopscovid19.htm