It’s been a quiet month at Mesa Verde National Park. Aside from some repair workers, the park has been relatively empty after it closed to visitors and some staff started working from home.
“Although things are quiet from a visitation standpoint, there’s still a lot of work going on,” Superintendent Cliff Spencer said Thursday.
As the COVID-19 pandemic approached the Four Corners, the park shut down its facilities but continued visitor access. Not long after, at sundown on March 25, it closed until further notice.
No reopening date has been set, Spencer said, but the park is following guidance from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to pursue one in phases.
At this time, the park is assessing the risks tied to different duties and operations. Spencer said he’ll join a call Friday with superintendents from across the National Park Service to hear what precautions the Washington office would like to see.
“I think we’re going to be in good shape,” he added.
Since 2014, the park has recorded over half a million visitors each year. The park’s popularity with regional and international visitors was a factor in its closure with guidance from the Montezuma County Public Health Department.
Spencer said the park has continued to work with MCPHD during the closure and praised the department’s work, including training for park staff.
While Mesa Verde has not let go any of its pre-closure staff, Spencer said hiring for some of its summer workers has been delayed. Emergency crews like law enforcement and firefighters are still being hired and trained as usual because as the superintendent put it, “Firefighting doesn’t respect closures.”
Hear Spencer’s full interview with KSJD below.