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Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Dinosaur National Monument is increasing recreational access to camping and river use. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
Beginning Sunday, June 7, 2020, Dinosaur will reopen access to campgrounds, backcountry, and river use:
• River Trips including permitted daily trips through Split Mountain Canyon and multi day trips on the Green and Yampa rivers will resume. Most launch dates have already been assigned for the 2020 season. Any remaining river permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis through Recreation.gov.
• Developed campgrounds at Split Mountain, Green River, Echo Park, Deerlodge Park, and Gates of Lodore will be open for camping and have drinking water and restrooms available. Rainbow Park Campground will also reopen, with vault toilets and no drinking water. Camping fees will be charged.
• Backcountry camping will resume, free permits are required and will be issued starting June 7. Campers need to be familiar with the monument’s backcountry regulations and know where they will enter, exit, and camp prior to requesting a permit. All backcountry permits will be issued by phone (435) 781-7700 x0 from 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. Permits will then be emailed to requester.
• All monument roads and trails are open.
• Restrooms are available in all developed campgrounds; along the Harpers Corner Road at most scenic overlooks, and at the Canyon Visitor Center front patio in Colorado; and along the Cub Creek Road at Josie’s Cabin, Split Mountain Boat Ramp, and at the top of the Fossil Discovery Trail near the Quarry Exhibit Hall parking lot in Utah.
• Drinking water is available in all developed campgrounds except Rainbow Park; at the Canyon Visitor Center front patio in Colorado; and at the Quarry Visitor Center back patio and top of the Fossil Discovery Trail near the Quarry Exhibit Hall parking lot in Utah.
With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:
• All monument visitor centers, and the Quarry Exhibit Hall remain closed.
• All ranger-guided programs including night sky programs are suspended until further notice.
“The camping and river recreation at Dinosaur are outstanding – I and the employees of the monument are excited that access to these spectacular places will resume,” said monument superintendent Paul Scolari. “We commend our local communities and visitors for their continuing patience as we increase access to the park in phases and thank local public health and elected officials for their support as we have navigated management of the monument through the COVID response.”
The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Dinosaur National Monument, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers. While many areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We 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. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders: Best practice precautions include the practice of social distancing, avoiding crowds, wearing face coverings if appropriate, and avoiding high-risk outdoor activities.
We will notify the public of changing conditions, access, and activities by providing updates on our website www.nps.gov/dino and social media channels @DinosaurNPS on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Updates about overall NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.
Special to the Herald Times