NPS Public Health Update

The National Park Service works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state, tribal, and local public health authorities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure the safety of park visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners. When we are responding to an ongoing public health incident, this page will provide timely updates about our response activities and links to specific information about parks that may be involved.

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a CDC graphic illustrating the coronavirus

Image: CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the National Park Service monitors and responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, we work closely with the doctors and public health professionals in the NPS Office of Public Health to use the latest science to guide our decision making.

The CDC recommends all individuals wear a mask indoors in public in areas of substantial or high transmission. However, visitors to national parks travel from all over the country and the world. Because of this and recognizing that most of the United States is currently in substantial or high transmission categories, and in consultation with doctors and public health professionals, we’ve implemented a nationwide mask requirement. To best protect our staff and visitors, masks are required inside all NPS buildings and in crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status or location.

The NPS expects everyone to follow the mask requirement. Individuals who violate this requirement may be subject to citations as appropriate.

Keep in mind, even in the outdoors, some park areas, overlooks, or trails may be crowded or narrow and physical distancing may not be possible. Be prepared with a mask if you cannot keep six feet from others and always hike smart.

Individuals who are interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine can visit vaccines.gov or text their ZIP code to 438829 to find a location close to them and make an appointment.

Staying Safe in Parks and Recreating Responsibly

This summer is especially busy for many national parks. Make sure you’re ready for your visit by checking the park website to begin planning your trip. Public health measures are in place across the National Park System including capacity limits, entrance reservations, one-way trails and/or temporary closures in response to local conditions. While most of the 423 national parks are available to visitors, some may not have the ability to offer the level of service available before the pandemic. Check with individual park websites or download the NPS App for specific details about their operations.

Graphic of mountains and an elk with the text Recreate Responsibly

NPS / Matt Turner

The CDC has noted that being physically active is one of the best ways to keep the mind and body healthy. In most areas, people can visit parks, trails, and open spaces as a way to relieve stress, get some fresh air and vitamin D, stay active, and safely connect with members of their household. Research the park you want to visit in advance to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience. Park rangers are on duty to uphold normal rules and regulations and assist visitors as needed.

For the health and safety of others, please choose another time to visit a park if: 

  • You are experiencing COVID-like symptoms such as a dry cough, fever, difficulty breathing, and/or loss of taste or smell.

  • You had close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

  • You are self-isolating or self-quarantining because you may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 or are worried that you may be sick with COVID-19.

Whether seeking wide-open spaces or exploring a historic urban neighborhood, visitors should follow CDC guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and recreate responsibly.

Protecting Our Employees

Employees, volunteers, partners, and contractors are required to wear face masks while inside federal buildings and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained, regardless of location or vaccination status. When required, the NPS issues protective equipment to employees performing critical functions like visitor and resource protection, EMS, and facility maintenance, among others. Following CDC guidance, park staff clean and maintain facilities to safeguard employee and public health and safety. We follow the latest CDC guidance for risk assessment, disease prevention, and protection of public spaces and workplaces.

We track confirmed employee cases of COVID-19 and recovery. However, we will only provide public information where an employee presented an exposure risk to the public based on CDC guidance. In addition, where employees may have exposed any of their colleagues, the NPS Office of Public Health will work with state, tribal, or local authorities and the impacted employees to follow proper public health procedures to keep one another safe.

Changes in Park, Facility, and Program Operations

Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations.

Some NPS programs may have changed their operations as well (e.g., extended due dates for reporting or applications, shortened hours of operation, changed contact information, etc.). Please check with the program for details. If you are an operational partner of the NPS (e.g., concessioner, cooperating association, or philanthropic organization), visit the Public Health Information for the Park Partner Community page.

Digital Resources

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Find Your Virtual Park

Stay connected with national parks across the country with online resources and virtual experiences.

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Health and Safety

Learn more about what the NPS and our partners do to encourage health and safety in parks.

News Releases

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    Other Federal Resources and Information

    Coronavirus.gov

    This is the primary portal for public information maintained by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force at the White House, working in conjunction with CDC, HHS and other agency stakeholders.

    Leading the Federal Response

    The US Department of Health and Human Services is the lead federal agency with responsibility for public health.

    What the U.S. Government Is Doing

    GSA has created a landing page on USA.gov (Español) for government-wide information related to COVID-19 activities.