Big Bend National Park planning phased reopening

Published: May. 27, 2020 at 5:03 PM CDT
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The public may be able to return to Big Bend National Park sooner than later.

Park officials announced Wednesday that they are working on a reopening plan to ensure the safety of employees, visitors and the local community.

"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.

According to a release, the plan could begin with the following facilities and operations opening 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.

Park officials say that this phased reopening could begin as early as June 1.

“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."

The park has been closed for 10 weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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