If you are planning a trip to a national park, you’d better pack a mask.
Several national parks in the U.S. are now requiring that face masks be worn in all indoor facilities due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Yellowstone National Park was the latest to institute an indoor mask mandate this week.
The National Park Service (NPS) had already implemented a mask mandate on public transit in all the nation’s parks.
Yellowstone National Park is the fourth park to add the indoor mask requirements. The others area Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Grand Tetons National Park. All visitors must wear a mask indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.
Masking requirements may vary by park
The NPS says masking requirements may vary based on the park and its local COVID conditions. If an area is designated as having a high COVID community level by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the park must enact restrictions. The community level is based on the number of hospital beds being used, hospital admissions and the total number of new cases, the CDC says.
For instance, Teton County, home to Grand Tetons National Park and portions of Yellowstone National Park, has the highest rates of COVID infections in Wyoming with 70 infections per 100,000 people. Yellowstone touches portions of three states (Montana, Wyoming and Idaho) as well as five counties. The CDC is reporting that three of those five counties have high local levels of COVID-19 infections.
Yosemite National Park’s home county of Mariposa County, California, has one of that state’s highest COVID levels, with 53.8 cases per 100,000 people. Grand Canyon’s home county of Coconino County is reporting 38.8 cases per 100,000 people, according to data from the Mayo Clinic.
The National Park Service suggests that travelers planning visits to national parks access each park’s website to learn about possible COVID restrictions and requirements.