After two months of closure due to COVID-19, Joshua Tree National Park reopened to the public on Sunday. The rugged landscape and bristled trees can once again be enjoyed by Angelenos itching to get out, but there are some changes and restrictions to note.
Hannah Schwalbe, a spokeswoman for the popular park, confirmed roads, gates parking lots, trails, family campsites, and most restrooms are open again. Visitor centers and group campsites, however, are temporarily closed. While family campsites are open, only members of the same household will be allowed to camp together, officials stated. The 520 available campsites will be given to those who manage to book first.
The park has worked closely with health officials in the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside to ensure the reopening is “in line with current health advisories,” according to Joshua Tree Superintendent David Smith.
The approach will be a phased reopening for the health and safety of all staff and visitors. Access and parking will be increased as and when it is safe to do so and the necessary measures and resources are in place.
According to Schwalbe, Sunday saw a fair amount of visitors but it wasn’t overcrowded. One of the new measures in place is to keep loop trails as one-ways only, this includes Barker Dam and Hidden Valley.
As expected, all programs and special-use activities are closed through May 31, according to the park’s website.
Payments can be made as usual, but while staff will be manning entrances they will not be collecting payment. If you plan to visit, it’s advisable to check the park’s website for updates—including weather forecasts.
The following steps have been recommended by park officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep parks open:
- Only visit with members of your household.
- Maintaining 6 feet of distance between you and anyone outside of your household.
- Avoid crowded areas.
- Bring hand sanitizer, a mask and other cleaning supplies. There are no hand sanitizing stations in the park and most restrooms have no running water.
- Maintain space while passing others on a trail. Loop trails, like Barker Dam and Hidden Valley, will be one-way only.
- Family campsites are open, but it is recommended that only members of the same household camp together. All 520 sites are first-come, first-served.
- Backcountry camping is open, but park officials request people camp in small groups with only members from your household.
- Drive slowly to protect the wildlife that is more active due to a lack of vehicles and human activity in recent weeks.
- Bring water and avoid the hottest parts of the day.
- Let people know where you are.