Arches, Canyonlands close to visitors because of coronavirus prevention

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park is silhouetted against the night sky, Moab, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Arches and Canyonlands national parks near Moab, Utah have officially closed to visitors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visitors linger at the bottom of North Window in The Windows, Arches National Park, Utah, March 31, 2018 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

The National Park Service announced the closure on Friday and it will take effect as of Saturday. The closure is until further notice.

The decision was made with guidance from the Southeast Utah Public Health Department, San Juan County Public Health Department and Moab Regional Hospital.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers and partners is our number one priority,” the NPS release said. “The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The release also mentioned that all vehicles, bikes and pedestrians are prohibited from entering any park areas. This includes campgrounds, trails, backcountry areas and roads. Citations may be issued to those violating the closure.

Another NPS recreational area, Glen Canyon, also announced some closures as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Their Lone Rock Beach primitive camping area was closed on Friday.

Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, date of photo not specified. | Image courtesy of National Park Service, St. George News

“Working in coordination with Kane County, Utah and Kane County Sheriff Tracy Glover, the park is temporarily closing the Lone Rock Beach Primitive Camping Area to camping and day use, effective March 27,” another NPS release said. “This closure will be reassessed in two weeks. This temporary closure will address potential health hazards related to congregating in groups with limited ability to practice social distancing, as well as potential resource impacts due to use while restroom servicing and trash removal have been suspended.”

Glen Canyon Park itself continues to be open with no fees being collected upon entrance and other campgrounds in the park remain open.

While visitors services are limited throughout the NPS system, they urge visitors to practice leave no trace principles to help keep the parks and campgrounds clean during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the governor announced his recommendation that people stay home as much as possible on Friday, it also limited the attendance at Utah state parks. State parks will now only be open to residents that live in the same county where that state park lies.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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