MISSOULA, Mont. — Two of America's most well-known national parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton, closed their gates Tuesday, giving people shut-in by the coronavirus even fewer options for recreation.
They join a growing list of parks closing despite an announcement last week by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt that they would remain open with free entrance fees.
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Yosemite National Park in California and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee have also closed.
Other parks have closed shuttles, campgrounds, visitor centers and some trails to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The following update was sent out by the National Park Service:
Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are announcing modifications to operations at the request of local county health officers from Park County, WY, Park County, MT, Teton County, WY, and Gallatin County, MT. The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective immediately, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are closed to all park visitors until further notice. There will be no visitor access permitted to either park. State highways and/or roads that transcend park/state boundaries and facilities that support life safety and commerce will remain open. Both parks will cooperate on the implementation of the closures. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.
“The National Park Service listened to the concerns from our local partners and, based on current health guidance, temporarily closed the parks,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly and Grand Teton Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail. “We are committed to continued close coordination with our state and local partners as we progress through this closure period and are prepared when the timing is right to reopen as quickly and safely as possible.”
The parks encourage people to take advantage of various digital tools available to learn about Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.