Parks officials answer crowding with closures to fight virus

FILE - In this May 21, 2011 file photo, tourists photograph Old Faithful erupting on schedule late in the afternoon in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. On Tuesday, March 24, 2020 the National Park Service announced that Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks would be closed until further notice, and no visitor access will be permitted to either park..(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
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CHEYENNE, Wyoming (AP/KMVT/KSVT) — Three of America's best-known national parks — Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Great Smoky Mountains  — closed their gates Tuesday as parks struggle to keep popular recreation areas open while struggling to prevent spreading the coronavirus at congested sites. 

They join a growing list of national parks that have closed from New York to California, including the Statue of Liberty and Alcatraz.

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and Yosemite National Park in California have also closed.

In Idaho, Craters of the Moon National Monument announced it was closing visitor facilities starting March 18.

Idaho State Parks and Recreation also provided guidance on closing campgrounds starting Friday. The closure is expected to last until May 15.

In Oregon, Crater Lake National Park, Mount Rainier also temporarily closed to the public because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Crater Lake made the announcement Tuesday morning, while Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks announced their closures Tuesday afternoon.

Park officials said rangers will remain at the parks to enforce the closure and protect the parks.

Other park closures in Oregon include the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and John Day Fossil Beds.

In Washington, North Cascades National Park shut campgrounds and facilities, as well as some trailheads and access roads.

Washington state officials also temporarily closed all state-managed parks, wildlife areas, and water access areas for at least two weeks.

Other parks that remain open have closed shuttles, campgrounds, visitor centers and some trails to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

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