Parks are open, but you should visit them with caution

Plus, information on how to virtually visit some of the country’s most beautiful parks.

two people looking at waterfall at great falls park
Great Falls National Park (Photo by Renee Sklarew)

National park fees have been waived and taking walks outside is encouraged during the coronavirus pandemic, but visiting parks right now can still put you at risk. Here, find out what you need to know, including information on virtual options.

National Parks

On March 18, the National Park Service (NPS) announced it has temporarily suspended entrance fees at all parks that are remaining open during the coronavirus outbreak. Although some parks, like Yosemite and Rocky Mountain, have closed, many national parks in the region remain open, including Great Falls, Harpers Ferry and Manassas National Battlefield.

Visitor centers and group campgrounds have been closed at all parks (some have closed public bathrooms too), and visitors are being reminded that although it is safe to take walks outside, going to a crowded park can put you at risk of contracting COVID-19. If you decide to visit any park in the region, make sure to practice social distancing while there, staying at least 6 feet apart from other visitors and wash your hands/use hand sanitizer as often as possible. Anyone planning on visiting a park should also monitor updates from NPS and check for announcements from specific parks before going.

Virtual Tours

So, you don’t want to risk it by going to a park right now, but you still need to entertain yourself and your family at home. Visit five national  parks virtually, thanks to Google Arts & Culture’s interactive feature

The virtual tours include Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska; Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico; Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park; and Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park.

Through the tours you can fly over an active volcano, kayak through icebergs, ride horseback through a canyon and more. To see it all, click here.

Stay up to date on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting Northern Virginia’s parks by subscribing to our Parks & Rec newsletter.

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