Grand Canyon National Park Reopens To Visitors

Published: Wednesday, May 13, 2020 - 3:40pm
Updated: Saturday, May 16, 2020 - 8:55pm
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Laurel Morales/KJZZ
The Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon National Park is beginning its first phase of reopening Friday. 

The Grand Canyon is reopening seven viewpoints, four picnic areas, and certain restrooms on the South Rim. Park officials said visitors can stay for the day but should plan to bring food, water, and hand sanitizer. There will be no restaurants or overnight accommodations available.

The park’s reopening has been criticized by officials on the Navajo Nation who believe the COVID-19 threat is still far from over.

The following areas remain closed: the east entrance, Grand Canyon Village, the North Rim, the Colorado River, the rim trail, and all inner canyon hiking trails. The neighboring Havasupai and Navajo Nations remain closed.

National Park Service officials said in a statement they’re opening back up on a park-by-park basis in phases. The agency said it’s following guidance from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local public health authorities.

Until May 18, visitors will be able to access viewpoints along East Rim Drive up to Navajo Point. None of the parks services, visitors centers or hiking trails will be available, as park spokesperson Lily Daniels explains.

"What we've done is enable visitors to experience select viewpoints while sectioning off residential areas in the park to reduce our residents exposures to COVID-19," Daniels said. "What we’re offering is kind of a more self sufficient visit for visitors, we’re asking that they bring enough food and water. Visitors can remain in the park to enjoy it throughout the day, and just kind of head out around sunset because there will be no camping or overnight accommodations.”

The gates will only be open for four hours each day, early in the mornings.

"Visitors can come through the south entrance from 6 to 10 a.m.," she said. "At 10 a.m. we're going to be closing the gates, so we want to emphasize people arrive early."

Daniels says park officials are exploring the possibility of opening more services and camping areas for Memorial Day weekend.

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