Colorado's national parks have diverse and unexpected landscapes. Rocky Mountain National Park spans the Continental Divide with alpine lakes and waterfalls, the headwaters of the Colorado River and dozens of mountain peaks. Mesa Verde National Park showcases human history at ancient cliff dwellings from 1,400 years ago. Sled or hike a spectacular array of dunes trapped by mountains at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and watch birds take a deep dive between the vertical canyon walls of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
As of Aug. 15, 2021, following the latest science and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and to promote staff and visitors’ safety, the National Park Service is requiring visitors, employees and contractors to wear a mask inside all NPS buildings and in crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels.
Individuals looking to get COVID-19 vaccine can visit vaccines.gov or text their ZIP code to 438829 to find a location close to them and make an appointment.
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, Gunnison County is currently under Public Health Orders that restrict travel to “essential” and visitors to Gunnison County are prohibited, even though Black Canyon of the Gunnsion National Park has reopened.
2. Not everything in the parks will be open.
Just because a national park reopens does not mean everything within the park is open. For instance, Great Sand Dunes’ visitor center is closed. Zion is not running its shuttle service. Yellowstone may not open its full-service restaurants. 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.