Yellowstone National Park will now require visitors ages 2 and older to wear face masks at its indoor facilities, citing an increase incase. Several other parks have similar restrictions, and the National Park Service has implemented a mask mandate on public transportation in all of its parks.
Of the 10 most visited national parks in 2021, four now require indoor masks: Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and the Grand Tetons. All visitors must wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status.
The National Park Service says masking requirements vary depending on the park and its local COVID conditions. If an area is designated as having a high community level of COVID by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the park must enact restrictions. The community level is based on the number of hospital beds used, hospital admissions and the total number of new cases, the CDC says.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Teton County, where the Grand Tetons and parts of Yellowstone are located, has the highest COVID rate in Wyoming. It reports an average of 16 cases a day and there are 70 infections per 100,000 people. Yellowstone spans three states and five counties, three of which have a high COVID community level, according to the CDC.
Mariposa County, California, home to Yosemite, has one of the highest COVID rates in the state, with 53.8 cases per 100,000 population. And Coconino County, where the Grand Canyon is located, is reporting 38.8 cases per 100,000 people, according to data from the Mayo Clinic.
Acadia National Park in Maine says face masks are optional, and Rocky Mountain National Park has advised visitors to mask up on its public transportation and at indoor facilities, but there are no of requirement. The Colorado park spans three counties, one of which has a high COVID community level.
Zion, the Great Smoky Mountains, Indiana Dunes, and Glacier round out the top 10 most-visited national parks in the United States — and they, as of yet, have no COVID restrictions in place. However, Zion and Glacier span counties that the CDC says are at an average COVID community level, suggesting that mask mandates could be issued if COVID cases continue to rise there.
If you’re planning to visit a national park this summer, the NPS suggests you visit the park’s website to learn about any COVID requirements.
Yellowstone’s announcement comes after a rocky start to the summer and tourist season. Last month, the park temporarily closed afterdamaged , and other structures in the park. Most park entrances have , but parts of the North Loop are still closed. In addition, three park visitors were since May, with the last two incidents occurring less than three days apart.
Yellowstone celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.