Current News and Information
The ATA uses this page to provide the most up-to-date information and recommendations related to the Arizona Trail and the outbreak of COVID-19. If you do plan to spend time hiking, running or riding on the Arizona Trail, please follow proper sanitation practices and STAY HOME if you are exhibiting symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Arizona Governor Issues Executive Order – New Phase of COVID-19 Mitigation
March 25, 2021 – Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order this morning with several updates to the State’s COVID-19 regulations.
The state has seen:
- 10 weeks of declining cases
- Hospitalizations at the lowest levels since October 2020
- Opening of vaccine appointments to all Arizonans of all age groups
- Mass distribution of the vaccine
Under the changes announced this morning:
- events with 50 people or more will no longer need the approval of local governments.
- The business guidance will transition from requirements to recommendations, but businesses retain the ability to continue requiring masks, social distancing, and other requirements, should they choose.
- Bars have been able to operate as “dine-in”, but they will be able to resume regular operations, should they choose.
- Local mask mandates will be phased out. Mask usage is still encouraged, especially in groups that are not vaccinated.
A full copy of the Executive Order can be found online here.
Update from the USDA Forest Service on requirement of masks for all volunteers and visitors to National Forest lands
March 19, 2021 – USDA employees, on-site contractors, cooperators, partners, volunteers, employees of special use authorization holders, and visitors, must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth in accordance with current CDC and OSHA guidance. Masks must be worn on National Forest System lands when physical distancing cannot be maintained. CDC recommends the following: Non-medical disposable masks, masks that fit properly (snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face), masks made with breathable fabric (such as cotton), masks made with tightly woven fabric (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source), masks with two or three layers, and masks with inner filter pockets. USDA will not allow non-protective masks, masks with exhalation valves, or face shields as a substitute for masks.
COVID-19 Field Safety
We have created this guide for staff and volunteer leaders to use on trail operations activities on the AZT during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and the more extended period of “recovery” that will follow it. The Epidemic Protocol is a comprehensive document with full evaluation of the threat and detailed instructions for staff and volunteer leaders on how to minimize risk for transmission during ATA trail operations.
A summary document has been created for sharing with volunteers and participants in trail activities. It includes basic information about communication, group sizes, face mask use and prevention protocols.
1/28/21 – Important Information for Arizona Trail Thru-Hikers and Riders – Spring 2021
As we embrace a New Year and look forward to a healthier 2021, the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) invites you to experience the Arizona National Scenic Trail on foot, mountain bike or horseback along 800 scenic and diverse miles between Mexico and Utah. This letter is specifically intended for those attempting a thru-hike or thru-ride in the Spring of 2021, but the information applies to anyone recreating on the Arizona Trail (AZT) this year.
The Arizona Trail is your trail, and it’s our collective responsibility to care for the trail and all the associated resources (water, wildlife, scenery, natural quiet) that make the AZT unique. And as members of the thru community, it’s also an opportunity to help care for each other and those we encounter along the way.
With more people working remotely, unemployed, or reprioritizing their lives, we anticipate record numbers of northbound thrus on the AZT this season, in addition to the ever-growing number of day trippers and weekend warriors who are section hiking and riding the AZT. Expect especially increased volumes of people near towns and trailheads. There will still be plenty of opportunities for solitude – a defining feature of the AZT – but be prepared to see more folks on the trail when you’re out there.
Read the rest of this message here…
7/28/20 – Message to those contemplating a thru-hike or thru-ride of the AZT in 2020
Summertime is when hundreds of hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians are planning the logistics of a long-distance trip on the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT). Especially since many individuals canceled their springtime AZT adventures due to COVID-19, the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) has been anticipating the busiest autumn in history. However, Arizona’s intense wildfire season – with three major wildfires burning more than 100 miles of the AZT – and a recent spike in Arizona’s COVID-19 cases has led the ATA to discourage thru-hiking and thru-riding this year.
We know how disappointing this is going to be for so many people. A southbound hike or ride from Utah to Mexico along the AZT is the adventure of a lifetime, and normally we would be encouraging everyone to use these uncertain times to hit the trail. But widespread trail closures with no safe or reasonable detours combined with Arizona becoming a global hot spot for the novel coronavirus has created an unsafe situation for “thrus” in 2020.
Read the rest of this message here…
5/12/20 – Governor Ducey Lifts “Stay home…” Order
New guidance for the next stage of economic recovery given on the Governor’s website here.
4/20/20 – Great resource for statewide recreation information
from the Arizona Office of Tourism:
All Arizona residents must limit their time away from their place of residence or property, except:
- To conduct or participate in essential activities, and/or;
- For employment, to volunteer or participate in essential functions; or
- To utilize any services or products provided by essential business services;
- And for employment if as a sole proprietor or family owned business, work is conducted in a separate office space from your home and the business is not open to serve the public.
See the order for a complete list of permissible “essential activities”, which also includes “Engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running, biking or golfing, but only if appropriate physical distancing practices are used.”
Violating the order is a class 1 misdemeanor, but those breaking the regulations released by Ducey will be first notified and given an opportunity to comply.
The National Park Service announced today that is it closing Grand Canyon National Park until further notice. Information regarding rescheduling backcountry reservations can be done by contacting the Park via e-mail. Please visit www.nps.gov/grca for specific details about park operations. The Park will notify the public when they resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.
Snowbowl Road is closed with a gate one mile north of U.S. Highway 180, and motorized vehicles are prohibited beyond that point. Bicycle and pedestrian access is permitted.
A Statement from Matthew Nelson, Arizona Trail Association Executive Director
“…If you have already started and can be fully self-sufficient for 800 miles and/or rely on assistance from a single friend or family member, consider all of your options very carefully. Bailing out and returning another time may be the best choice. The AZT will be here for you to explore in the future”.
Important News for AZT Thru-Hikers and Riders – pdf version
Up to date recommendations for volunteer activities on the AZT.
Stay informed about coronavirus and learn about steps you can take to minimize your risk by visiting the Center for Disease Control’s website: cdc.gov
Links to current information about closures and restrictions on public lands affecting the AZT are below.