As our nation gradually reopens after months of Covid-19 quarantine, we are all anxious to travel again. However, it is important to remain cautious and many Americans will be opting for road trips and travel by car versus air travel for health safety reasons. The National Park Service released a statement on May 28, 2020, with information on increasing recreational access for the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and river trips within the park.
Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Grand Canyon National Park is increasing recreational access for the South Rim and river trips. The National Park Service (NPS) is using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis and working with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning May 29, 2020, the South Rim’s south entrance will be open every day from 4 a.m. until 2 p.m for day use with limited commercial services.The entrance will close at 2 p.m. and visitors already inside the park can remain for day use access until sunset. The following areas will be open:
- Tuweep will be open for day-use access.
- Day hiking on inner canyon trails and existing backcountry permits for hikers camping overnight will be honored. No new overnight camping permits for the inner canyon will be issued.
Beginning June 5, 2020, the following areas will be open for visitors every day:
- South Rim’s south entrance will be open 24/7, and Mather Campground will open for existing reservations only.
- The North Rim will be open for day use. The campground is closed for construction until July 1.
Beginning June 14, 2020, Grand Canyon National Park will initiate a phased reopening of Colorado River commercial, noncommercial and administrative trips until further notice.
- Private, non-commercial river trips with current permits will be authorized to launch, and no new permits will be issued until at least the end of June. Noncommercial river trips including administrative trips should contact the Grand Canyon River Permit Office via email at [email protected] for details.
- Commercial river trips will resume with implemented mitigation measures including modified passenger capacities. Customers should contact the commercial river companies for any potential impact on their trip.
Lodging accommodations on the South and North Rims began a phased reopening in June, and visitors should check the reservation sites for their availability.
With public health in mind, the residential areas, east entrance on the South Rim, Desert View Watchtower area, and Desert View campground will remain closed. A complete list of openings and closures and available services are available on the NPS website.
Note that Grand Canyon has a fire restriction in effect that prohibits building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, or wood stove fire, including within a developed recreation site or improved site.
While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding, and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.
As a reminder, visitors driving on U.S. Route 89 in northern Arizona between Flagstaff and the communities of Cameron and Bodaway will be traveling through the Navajo Nation, which requires face masks to be worn at public facilities and businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. The South Rim’s east entrance is accessed by driving on U.S. Route 89, and the entrance remains closed. Public health and operational updates for the Navajo Nation can be found on the Navajo Nation’s website. Also, the neighboring Havasupai reservation remains closed for tourism, and details for operational updates can be found on their website.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The NPS will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.
Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website and social media channels. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.