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Wed, June 03

Grand Canyon National Park begins phased reopening May 15

Grand Canyon National Park announced a phased re-opening of the park will begin May 15 with limited day use access to viewpoints, picnic areas and some restroom facilities. The East Entrance and North Rim will remain closed. Additional access is planned for visitors over Memorial Day weekend. (Loretta McKenney/WGCN)

Grand Canyon National Park announced a phased re-opening of the park will begin May 15 with limited day use access to viewpoints, picnic areas and some restroom facilities. The East Entrance and North Rim will remain closed. Additional access is planned for visitors over Memorial Day weekend. (Loretta McKenney/WGCN)

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — Grand Canyon National Park has announced it is increasing visitor access to some viewpoints on the South Rim starting May 15.

This is part of a phased reopening the park is implementing to begin allowing visitors to the park and at the same time trying to protect the health of those living and working at the Canyon.

“This initial reopening phase will increase access to our public lands in a responsible way by offering the main feature of the park for the public, the view of the canyon, while reducing the potential exposure of COVID-19 to our nearly 2,500 residents,” Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Ed Keable said in a statement.

What’s open?

The park’s South Entrance will reopen May 15-18 for incoming traffic from 6-10 a.m. with limited day use access to viewpoints at Pipe Creek Vista, Shoshone Point, Twin Overlooks, Duck on a Rock, Thor's Hammer, No Name Point and Navajo Point along East Desert View Drive. Vehicles will be directed to turn around at Navajo Point. Additionally, picnic areas near Shoshone Point Pavilion, east of Yaki Road, Thor's Hammer and Buggeln Picnic area will have limited access. Restroom facilities located by the South Entrance and picnic areas east of Yaki Road, Shoshone Point and Buggeln picnic area will also have limited access.

What’s closed?

The east entrance to the South Rim and Desert View area will remain closed. The North Rim, which closes every winter is closed. Additionally, the Rim Trail, Greenway Trail system, inner canyon and all hiking trails are closed.

Grand Canyon Village including Center Road west from the South Entrance Road intersection, South Entrance Road north of Desert View Drive intersection, Yaki Point Road, Rowe Well Road and the USFS 310 Road are closed. The Colorado River, North Rim and Tuweep area are closed. All commercial services within the park remain closed.

Visitors are instructed to be self-sufficient, bringing food, water and hand sanitizer. There are no overnight accommodations available.

The park stated that an operational approach is being implemented to examine each facility function and service in order to ensure operations comply with current public health guidance. These operations will be regularly monitored.

“We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and work spaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers,” the park said.

A return to full operations

The park stated that a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited.

Additional access is planned for visitors over Memorial Day weekend, which includes extending entrance station hours and access to more roads, hiking trails and viewpoints.

For visitors driving on U.S. Route 89 between Flagstaff or northern Arizona and Cameron will be travelling through the Navajo Nation, which requires face masks to be worn at public facilities and businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. Also, the Havasupai reservation remains closed for tourism, indefinitely.

“We 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. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities,” the park stated.

The National Park Service is working with federal, state and local public health authorities to closely monitor the coronavirus pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

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