Sunrise from Yavapai Point on the morning of Wednesday, April 1, 2020 | NPS photo
The National Park Service received a letter today from the Health and Human Services Director and Chief Health Officer for Coconino County recommending the full closure of Grand Canyon National Park, and acting Superintendent Mary Risser, with the support of the NPS Deputy Director, Operations, David Vela and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, made the decision to immediately close the park until further notice.
“The Department of the Interior and the National Park Service will continue to follow the guidance of state and local health officials in making determinations about our operations,” Secretary Bernhardt said. “As soon as we received the letter from the Health and Human Services Director and Chief Health Officer for Coconino County recommending the closure of Grand Canyon National Park, we closed the park.”
The statement went on to read that “the health and safety of park visitors, employees, residents, volunteers, and partners at Grand Canyon National Park is the Service’s number one priority. The NPS has consistently assessed its park units and made modifications to its operations in accordance with CDC, state and local public health guidance, and the NPS will continue to follow the guidance of public health officials in making determinations about our operations to address this pandemic.”
The Grand Canyon was slow to close after many calls by local officials and even the park’s own leadership. The letter that spurred the closure was hardly the first alarm raised. The closure follows other major U.S. national parks Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Acadia, Glacier, Arches and more.
Updates about NPS operations are posted at www.nps.gov/coronavirus, and a full list of closed National Parks can be found on National Parks Traveler’s website.