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How U.S. National Parks are Handling COVID-19

| Updated Mar 30, 2020

The U.S. National Park Service said it is “taking extraordinary steps” that include taking guidance from state and local public health authorities to protect public safety. 

The details are laid out in the “NPS Public Health Update” web page that can be found at

In the interest of our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers' (and anyone they might come in contact with) health, I'm posting the information below.

Additionally, I invite you to check out how we're staying “Hunkered down in Florida” as well as how COVID-19 is affecting the RV Lifestyle.

From NPS:

The NPS Office of Public Health, Office of Risk Management, and the Division of Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Services, in conjunction with the Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Occupational Safety and Health and Office of Emergency Management (OEM), are responsible for managing and supporting activities to prevent, protect against, mitigate, and respond to such hazards. Over the last couple of weeks, they have been actively engaged and coordinating efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • The NPS taking extraordinary steps to implement the latest guidance from state and local public health authorities, which support the CDC's efforts to promote social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19. The NPS is modifying operations, until further notice, for facilities and programs that cannot adhere to this guidance. Where it is possible to adhere to this guidance, outdoor spaces will remain open to the public and entrance-fee free. See more below.
  • The NPS Office of Public Health and the US Public Health Service officers assigned to the NPS are closely monitoring the situation and keeping staff informed, relying on the most updated data and information from the CDC, Office of Personnel Management (OPM), OEM, and state and local public health authorities.
  • The NPS is focused on ensuring employees, their families, volunteers, and visitors are safe by following the most current guidance from the CDC, OPM, OEM, and other federal, state, and local public health authorities.

Public Health Preparation and Response

Visitor services, other than those of public and resource protection (such as law enforcement and trash removal), will be limited or suspended. The NPS urges visitors to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.

When contemplating a visit to a national park, the NPS asks people to act responsibly with regards to CDC and state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Slowing the spread of novel coronavirus is everyone's responsibility.

For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra precautions and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.

Following CDC guidance, NPS Public Health Service officers recommend that everyone should take the following routine precautions:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
    • Wash with soap and water to destroy the virus. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    • While an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol can be used, it’s best to reserve those resources for work locations where soap and water are not readily available.
    • If your hands are visibly dirty, soap and water should be used rather than hand sanitizer.
  • As always, it is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Regular household cleaners will destroy the virus.
  • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Most importantly, stay home when you are sick in order to avoid exposing others.

Changes in Park and Facility Operations

Read a statement on NPS modifications to operations. Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations.

Opportunities to Find Your Park Virtually

You don’t have to be in a national park to experience a national park! NPS parks and programs are sharing virtual content on their websites and social media. There are countless ways to #FindYourPark from home, here are just a few:

Mike Wendland

Published on 2020-03-30

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

2 Responses to “How U.S. National Parks are Handling COVID-19”

April 21, 2020at4:15 pm, Gail said:

Thank you Mike and Jen! After buying our dream camper at Thanksgiving, going on one camping trip at a park 5 miles away, we cannot wait to get this over with. Your videos are a wonderful escape from it all. FYI, next time you’re in Key West there is a little sandal shop by Duval that makes the best leather sandals for men and women, by hand for under $20. Hopefully they will still be there next time. Be Safe Be Well!

April 13, 2020at10:24 am, SamG said:

Thank you for all the entertainment you 3 provide during this crisis! Hope you had a Great Easter! Stay Healthy and safe.

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