Sequoia, Kings Canyon will start to reopen on Thursday

Most roads, restrooms, picnic areas and trails will be opened.
COVID-19 shut down Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks more than two months ago.

But visitors will be able to come back on Thursday as part of the first phase of expanding access to the parks.

Public Affairs Officer Sintia Kawasaki-Yee describes it as self-reliant recreation.

"We are going to be handing out this park newspaper and this park map to every car coming into the gate," Kawasaki-Yee said. "This is going to be the best resource for information. We won't have our visitor centers open, there are no ranger stations open."

Also closed: restaurants and markets, museums, campgrounds, and lodges.

The Sequoia Shuttle has also been canceled for the 2020 season, and Crystal Cave will not be open for tours.

So what is open?

Most roads, restrooms, picnic areas, and of course, trails.

Park officials say some trails may become congested, so they recommend starting early or going to a less popular trail.

"In our park newspaper, we actually include areas that are similar experiences in the similar areas, just with less foot traffic that are not so busy," Kawasaki-Yee said.

The gradual reopening of the parks will clearly provide a physical and mental health benefit to visitors.

But financially speaking, there's also a lot at stake.

Close to two million people visited Sequoia & Kings Canyon in 2018, and parks officials say their spending supported 2,000 local jobs and contributed tens of millions of dollars to the local economy.

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