White Sands, Guadalupe National Park, Carlsbad Caverns announces operational changes

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Park Service has announced changes at three of the region’s largest national parks, including White Sands National Park, Guadalupe National Park, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

White Sands will close the visitor center, Western National Parks park store, White Sands Trading Company until further notice. All park ranger programs and backcountry camping is canceled until further notice.

Dunes Drive and all hiking trails remain open, visitors are encouraged to adhere to social distancing.

At Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the caverns will remain open but access to the caverns by elevators is closed until further notice except those with physical disabilities. Visitors will still be able to enjoy the cavern by hiking the Natural Entrance Trail. The 1.25-mile trail involves a steep 75-story hike into and out of the cavern. For safety, the trail isn’t accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, or walkers.

The elevator closure addresses New Mexico’s Mass Gathering Order that advises the public to take numerous preventative precautions, such as to avoid close contact with people who are sick, to the extent possible, avoid touching high‐touch surfaces in public places—elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc., and to avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces

Guadalupe National Park will be open to hikers, but the Pine Springs Visitor Center and bookstore, as well as all park contact stations, are closed until further notice.

Park trails, camping areas, and reserved group campsites will remain open. Ranger-led programs and backcountry permits have been suspended until further notice.

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. All New Mexico State Parks remain closed for day use or camping through April 9.

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