Grand Canyon to reopen to tourists for Memorial Day

The Grand Canyon in May 2012. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

(The Center Square) – The National Park Service will reopen the Grand Canyon to tourists for Memorial Day weekend but there will be additional restrictions in place, and many popular viewing locations will likely remain closed, officials said.

The canyon hosted tourists last weekend as Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home orders had expired. The inner canyon and hiking trails all remained closed, as were commercial services. Officials advised visitors to bring food and hand sanitizer.

“Visitors exploring the South Rim should plan to be self-sufficient, bringing enough food and water during their trip as well as hand sanitizer,” they said. “Once visitors enter the park, they can stay throughout the day; however, there are not overnight accommodations available.”

The tourist spot had been closed since April 1. Park officials said the holiday weekend would see better access and extended hours.

Like last weekend, park officials will be policing visitors to ensure they’re adhering to federal guidelines intended to discourage the spread of COVID-19.

“We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health,” NPS said in a release. “When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.”

There’s planning required for the trip as well – Route 89 crosses through the Navajo Nation, which has enacted strict mask requirements. The state and federal governments have sent additional assistance there due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Health officials there announced Saturday 3,912 people who have tested positive for the virus. They attribute 140 deaths to COVID-19. The park’s east entrance to the South Rim, which lies within Navajo borders, is closed to the public.

Annually, the canyon hosts about 6 million people.

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