Hikers with masks on File photo. Photo Credit: PixelsEffect (iStock).

File photo. Photo Credit: PixelsEffect (iStock).

In accordance with the latest guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Park Service will be requiring employees, the public, and contractors to wear a mask while inside of all National Park Service buildings, as well as in crowded outdoor areas managed by the department. This new mandate applies regardless of vaccination status and local transmission levels of COVID-19.

The National Parks Service pointed out that visitors to the spots they manage travel from around the country and world. This can be cause for concern, with a majority of the United States already seeing high levels of COVID-19 transmission. While transmission levels may be low overall in a given area, they may be high in a specific destination known for attracting travelers.

In Colorado, this change impacts Rocky Mountain National Park, the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, as well as other destinations managed by the National Parks Service. These other spots include Bent's Old Fort, Curecanti National Recreation Area, California Historic Trail, Colorado National Monument, Dinosaur National Monument, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Old Spanish National Historic Trail, the Pony Express Historic Trail, Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Santa Fe National Historic Trail, and Yucca House National Monument.

STAY INFORMED: Sign-up for the daily OutThere Colorado newsletter here

In regard to masking up outdoors, this is required in spaces where social distancing can't be maintained otherwise. This includes crowded and narrow trails, in addition to some overlooks.

The requirement is in effect until further notice.

"Masking in addition to being vaccinated will help prevent the spread of new variants [of COVID-19] and protect those who are more at risk of severe disease. This simple act of kindness allows us to be safe while we continue to enjoy the benefits of our national parks," said Captain Maria Said, an epidemiologist that serves in the National Park System Office of Public Help.

STAY INFORMED: Sign-up for the daily OutThere Colorado newsletter here

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run. He's on a mission to summit all 58 of Colorado's fourteeners and has already climbed more than half.


Get OutThere

Signup today for free and be the first to get notified on new updates.

(5) comments

Steve B/Colorado

All: I'm sure you can find places to hike where you can go without a mask.

Colorado Grandma

We were in Estes Park and RMNP the 12th through 15th. Even with this being implemented more people had already started this. We didn't have any problem with wearing our masks in buildings and in crowds. When hiking no we didn't but being in a group wasn't an issue. People need to get over themselves and care about others


This is just one more overreaching COVID “CYA” (cover your a**) mandate by a government agency. Still waiting for any scientific evidence that masking up outdoors prevents the spread of ANY virus, let alone COVID. I am fully vaccinated. Either the vaccine is working (for the vast majority of people) or it isn’t. Which is it? The government can’t continue to have it both ways. There will always be a new virus, a new variant, or a new “whatever.” Ironically, all of the mandatory masking, disinfecting and social distancing for COVID only makes us more susceptible to the next viral outbreak (and the one after that, and the one after that). We cannot protect ourselves from everything, and we cannot continue to live in fear of everything, either. It’s time to return to some semblance of normalcy, which means not masking up outdoors.


I agree this is why people are reluctant to get the vaccine. If it provides protection then why mask. It has nothing to do with caring or not about people. I think the government needs to butt out of personal health. If they cared so much they would be advising better health... walking.. eating right and vitamins etc, but they offer you donuts or hamburgers for getting


How is masking outdoors a reasonable mandate? It’s rediculous to deprive hikers the fresh air they need to sustain physical activity outside. The virus does not spread easily outside and if you must physically distance it’s easy to do. This is beyond belief.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.