Updated 3/31: The National Park Service announced that Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments will be closed to all park visitors until further notice beginning on April 1. The parks join Arches, Canyonlands, Yellowstone and more parks in closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Arches and Canyonlands national parks are closed, after Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus, Moab Regional Hospital officials and the Southeast Utah Health Department all urged local National Parks to shutter to stop the spread of coronavirus in the area.

“Effective Saturday, March 28, 2020, Arches and Canyonlands national parks will be closed to all park visitors until further notice,” a statement from park public affairs official Lynn Mcaloon, clarifying that to order is a total closure to all recreational use of the park including “vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians…including campgrounds, trails, backcountry, and roads.” 

Canyonlands and Arches National Park now join several National Parks—including Yosemite, Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain national parks—that have closed their gates altogether until further notice after crowds of visitors gave rise to concerns about proper social distancing. 

A March 26 letter signed by Moab Regional Hospital CEO Jen Sadoff and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dylan Cole spoke directly of the risks they believed the parks presented.

“Tourists from areas with community spread of COVID-19 are using our grocery stores, interacting with the local community while picking up to-go food from restaurants, and staying illegally in nightly rental lodging in spite of the health department’s mandate,” the medical professionals wrote. 

Read Moab Regional Hospital’s full letter to the National Park Service

In a letter dated March 25 from SEUHD Director Bradon C. Bradford, the health department official expressed “particular concern that the normal crowds that are drawn to the parks are coming from areas that we have little information about. Their interaction with park staff and the local community increases risk of disease transmission.”

Read the full letter urging the closure of Arches and Canyonlands national parks here

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