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Contact: Tom VandenBerg, (432) 477-1107
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TX – Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Public Health Service, and Texas State Health Services, the National Park Service (NPS) may begin the phased reopening of Big Bend as early as June 1st.
The park will remain closed to the public through the month of May. Park managers are planning a cautious and phased increase in access to maintain employee, visitor, and local community safety, and to avoid overwhelming limited and distant regional medical health services. If supported by the recommendations of the public health professionals at federal, state, and local levels, Big Bend’s plan could begin with the following facilities and operations open for day use in early June:
- Scenic driving and bicycling along all paved park roads.
- Selected frontcountry trails for day hiking.
- Rio Grande day float trips from paved road access points.
- Panther Junction Gas Station and camp store.
- Chisos Mountains Lodge restaurant for take-out meals only.
- Fossil Discovery Exhibit.
- Restroom facilities.
"Big Bend National Park is 100 miles from the nearest hospital, and while the park community has fortunately been disease-free, the public health consultants we are working with remain concerned about the vulnerability of employees, residents, and visitors should anyone become symptomatic with COVID-19 while in the park,” said Big Bend National Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker.
“After what will have been 10 weeks of being closed, we look forward eagerly to being able to serve the public once again. Visitors may see some of the improvements that National Park Service staff, volunteers, and partners have been working on while the park has been closed. These include cleanup of the 2019 Castolon Fire debris, painting of the Panther Junction Visitor Center, and extensive clearing of brush in campgrounds and along roadsides. Our re-opening will be gradual, and closely linked to the experts' recommendations on safety and health. We appreciate the patience of everyone who loves Big Bend, and in particular, those whose economic lives have been adversely affected. Re-opening the park safely will be a huge boost to community morale, and to the economy of West Texas."
Please visit www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/big-bend-covid-19-status-updates.htm for specific details and regular updates on Big Bend National Park’s phased return to operations. The NPS will notify the public when additional areas open and more operations resume via the park website and social media channels. Updates about the NPS response to coronavirus will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.
Last updated: May 18, 2020