CAMERON, Arizona. — This is the first weekend in a year that Utahns can simply drive right across their southern border and into the Grand Canyon.
The National Park Service (NPS) closed the east entrance gates on April 1, 2020 because of the pandemic. With the closure, driving to the Grand Canyon entailed going hours out of the way, down through Flagstaff and up and around rather than the shorter, scenic jaunt within the Park on Hwy 64.
“Park officials, working with tribal and state officials, stakeholders and community leaders, announce the reopening of the Park’s east entrance gate this week. The east entrance, along Arizona State Highway (Hwy) 64, has been closed since April 1, 2020. The intent of the closure has been to minimize visitor traffic through the Navajo Nation and other communities east of the Park, respecting the health and safety need of park neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic,” NPS wrote in a news release.
The South Rim entrance/main visitor welcome area has been reopen for months. Crowds have been a fraction of prepandemic size. The North Rim entrance remains seasonally closed as weather tends to be more inclement than the south or east entrance at Desert View.