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Contact: Tom VandenBerg, (432) 477-1107
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TX – The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that: Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Public Health Service, and Texas Department of State Health Services, Big Bend will soon resume visitor access for recreational day use. The park has been closed to visitors since April 3rd, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning 9:00 AM June 1, 2020 Big Bend National Park will resume Day Use Only access for:
Scenic driving and bicycling along all paved park roads.
Selected frontcountry trails for day hiking.
Rio Grande for day-use river trips from paved road access points.
Group size limits apply.
Panther Junction Gas Station and store
Limited selection of food/snacks/drinks.
- Fossil Discovery Exhibit
While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased in and visitor services will be limited. When recreating, the public must practice social distancing and cloth face coverings are strongly encouraged as recommended by the CDC. Visitors should practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding, and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.
“After being closed for two months, it's great to be able to provide the people who love their national park the opportunity to enjoy Big Bend again,” said Superintendent Bob Krumenaker. “We've been in frequent consultation with federal, state, and local public health authorities to develop our plan for a careful and phased reopening. It moves steadily towards increasing access to all park facilities and recreational opportunities, provided that the public health indicators remain positive. Protecting the health of our staff and volunteers, the residents of the Big Bend gateway communities, and of course, the visitors, is paramount, so it's essential that everyone who comes to Big Bend accept the responsibility for their own actions. If you're feeling sick or if you've got underlying health conditions, please come at another time -- or enjoy the park virtually right now.”
Visitors to Big Bend must also be prepared for the extreme summer heat of the Chihuahuan Desert. During the summer months, temperatures in the park’s lower elevations and river areas typically exceed 100 degrees by late morning, and remain at dangerous levels until after sunset. Hikers should stay off trails in the afternoon and carry (and drink) plenty of extra water.
Big Bend’s phased approach is designed to gradually allow increased access, while maintaining employee, visitor, and local community safety, and to avoid overwhelming the area’s limited medical services. The park will actively monitor conditions (in the park and in surrounding counties); and will maintain flexibility to expand, adjust, or contract operations as health conditions warrant.
With public health in mind, the following areas and facilities will remain closed at this time:
- All Visitor Centers.
- Chisos Mountains Lodge overnight accommodations.
- Rio Grande Village and Chisos Basin Camper Stores.
- All campgrounds and backcountry campsites.
- All gravel roads and backcountry roads.
- The Hot Springs Historic Area and associated trails.
- Boquillas Port of Entry.
Big Bend National Park Entrance fees will resume once appropriate safety measures are in place. All transactions will be credit card only.
While many people think coming to Big Bend National Park, is the ultimate in social distancing, the park has many pinch points - scenic overlooks, restrooms, narrow trails, the Chisos Basin restaurant, and the stores and gas stations. Superintendent Krumenaker reminds potential park visitors that, “It is up to each individual, and every group travelling together, to manage themselves so as not to share whatever they may have been exposed to with the other visitors. If everyone cooperates, then all of Big Bend will be accessible soon!”
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Park staff 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.
Please visit www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/big-bend-covid-19-status-updates.htm for specific details of park closures/openings and regular updates of 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 28, 2020