National parks, forests take precautions during coronavirus pandemic


Lehman Caves. (Courtesy: National Park Service)

(KLAS) — National parks and forests are taking precautions against the coronavirus, including Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Great Basin National Park and Kaibab National Forest.

The Lake Mead Visitor Center, park headquarters lobby and entrance station fee collection operations are closed or canceled until further notice. The park remains open.

Lake Mead is closing the following areas with campgrounds at midnight, March 20:

  • Temple Bar Campground and restroom
  • Nevada Telephone Cove
  • Six Mile Cove
  • Nine Mile Cove

Lake Mead is also closing the following trails and hot springs at midnight, March 20:

  • Arizona Hot Spring
  • White Rock Canyon
  • Goldstrike Canyon

Kaibab, located in northern Arizona, is asking guests and other members of the public to take the following steps to prevent potential spread:

  • Minimize personal contact by calling forest offices for assistance instead of coming in person
  • Postponing non-critical business with the Forest Service
  • Practicing social distancing when encountering Forest Service employees in the field

“Health and human safety for the public, as well as our employees, are the highest priority during this rapidly evolving situation. We want to support our communities while continuing the Forest Service mission with minimum exposure to any health risk,” said Kaibab Supervisor Heather Provencio in a press release.

In eastern Nevada, the Lehman Caves Visitor Center at Great Basin National Park will close from March 17 to April 6. Cave tours will be canceled starting March 18 and ending at 1 p.m. on April 6.

Despite the visitor center closure, Great Basin park rangers will be available during the above dates to answer questions and offer maps outside of the building. A park spokesperson says trails are open but “may be muddy at lower elevations and will have snow at higher elevations.” Visitors are asked to use snowshoes and practice social distancing.

Utah’s Zion National Park will temporarily suspend shuttle operations starting March 17. Visitors can still drive up Zion Canyon Scenic Drive in their own vehicles until parking is at capacity. The drive will close and reopen intermittently based on the availability of parking spaces. The closure is until further notice.

Additional safety measures at Zion include virtual visitors centers online wilderness permits. According to a news release, rangers will be available via phone and email to help answer guests’ questions.

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