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Grand Canyon to reopen east entrance closed last year amid COVID concerns

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The east entrance to the Grand Canyon at Desert View will reopen Thursday after being closed for more than a year due to COVID-19 concerns in the Navajo Nation and surrounding areas, the park service announced.

The east entrance, along Arizona State Highway (Hwy) 64, was closed April 1, 2020, to minimize visitor traffic through the Navajo Nation and other communities east of the park during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Ed Keable said in a press release the decision to reopen the entrance was based on input from the Navajo Nation, state and local officials as well as community members.

“Over the past year, we have continued to coordinate with local Cameron Chapter and tribal officials from the Navajo Nation, as well as other stakeholders and business leaders on the east gate closure,” Keable said. “As vaccine rollouts continue, we recognize the need to normalize our operations and allow for visitors to have a drive-through option on Hwy 64.”

While the east entrance to the park will reopen, all roads other than state and federal highways in the Navajo Nation will be closed to non-residential traffic and masks are required at all locations on the Nation.

No services will be available at Desert View until further notice, according to the release, including food, gas and the campground, with the services returning as soon as staffing allows.

The nearest services available to Desert View are about 30 miles east of the Desert View developed area in Cameron, Arizona.

Credit cards, Your Pass Now, and America the Beautiful passes will be accepted for entry, according to the release. Cash is not accepted at this time.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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