Crater Lake National Park is now closed until further notice. Park officials announced the closure Tuesday morning in response to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. No access is permitted into the park. The closure will be enforced 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Superintendent Craig Ackerman said he made the closure decision following consultations with the park’s management team and regional office, and to support federal, state and local efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“The decision was based on the rapid spread of the contagion, the diverse demographics that represent the origins and destinations of visitors that come to the park — then leave and disperse with whatever they may have contracted — and the potential impacts to our local communities,” Ackerman said.
He noted nearby Douglas County is listed by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) as one of the four counties nationally with the highest vulnerability to outbreaks. In addition, Ackerman said the decision complies with the Executive Order from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to “Stay at Home, Stay Safe,” and also responds to a request from the state asking the National Park Service to mirror Brown’s order that has closed all state parks and recreation areas.
“But first and foremost, the decision was made to protect you and your fellow Crater Lake employees to the best of our ability,” Ackerman said in an email to park staff. “I know that this decision will have impacts and repercussions that are significant, some beyond what we may know now. I know that it will affect our partners at Aramark, the NHA (Natural History Association) and local stakeholders who have businesses dependent on the park. However, in my mind the choice was clear.”
According to Ackerman, “The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Crater Lake National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.”
Foot traffic, walking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing are prohibited on Munson Valley Road, the road from the South Entrance station to park headquarters and Rim Village. In addition, the North Entrance Road is also closed to snowmobiles, walking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
Two restrooms are open along Highway 62 at the Ponderosa Picnic Area near Fort Klamath and the Old West Pullout near Union Creek.
In a news release about the closure, it was noted the NPS encourages people to take advantage of digital tools to “explore” Crater Lake National Park, including the park’s webcams at www.nps.gov/crla/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Crater-Lake-National-Park-137127376328525/.