Are you ready to get out of the house and hit the trails? National parks are increasing access and services, but visitor centers remain closed, and social distancing will be enforced.

By Cheyann Neades
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As nationwide restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic begin to ease, the National Park Service is also starting to phase in access.

“We recognize that at times like these, parks can fill our needs to be inspired, to find solace, and to connect with the world around us,” the NPS says on its COVID-19 response page. “However, we have a responsibility to ensure this need doesn’t outweigh the protection of these places and the protection of our employees and visitors.”

To encourage safe exploration, the NPS urges visitors “to park only in designated areas, pack out everything you bring into a park, plan a visit at times other than busiest of the day, maintain social distance from other visitors, and if you encounter a crowded trail-head or overlook, seek another location to recreate.”

Before visiting any park, check the location's website for its latest status. Here’s the current outlook for Midwest national parks:

While most park trails are open, Cuyahoga Valley rangers are monitoring visitation to avoid crowding. As certain areas of the park near capacity, they will be closed. Call (440) 546-5960 for the latest closure information. Boston Mill Visitor Center is closed.

The park and surrounding islands are closed but scheduled to reopen June 15.

The Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse remain closed until further notice, but visitors can walk and bike on The Arch grounds. You can also take several virtual visits to the park from home.

Most areas of the park, including 50 miles of hiking trails, are open; restrooms are open now, and campgrounds and public buildings are scheduled to open in June. Check the park's website for the latest information.

The park remains open but all visitors centers are closed, possibly for the rest of the 2020 season. Permits for overnight use, such as tent camping and houseboat mooring, just became available again.

Park trails, picnic areas, roads and backcountry camping reopened on May 9. Visitor centers and campgrounds remain closed.

Park roads and hiking trails are open, but the visitor center and Elk Mountain Campground are closed. Cave tours have been cancelled since summer 2019 pending “major elevator repairs,” according to the park website.

While roads, trails and campgrounds in the North Unit are open, visitor centers, entrance fee stations and the park's South Unit are closed.