When Joshua Tree National Park in California was closed to everything but foot and bike traffic Saturday because of the coronavirus pandemic, Brian Rennie knew the trouble was about to begin.

First, Rennie said, the park administration closed the park with no warning to neighboring property owners like himself. Rennie has owned his home in Joshua Tree near the park’s popular West Entrance since the 1990s and lived there full-time since 2013. This story was reported by the Palm Springs Desert Sun, which is a part of the USA TODAY Network.

Second, he said, by making the national park’s parking lots inaccessible to visitors, hikers would have to get creative about where to stow their cars while walking into the park for the day.

Saturday and Sunday saw hundreds of cars parked at any given moment along the sides of Quail Springs Road leading up to the park’s shuddered entrance, essentially parked in the front yards of property owners like Rennie.

Hikers enjoyed the trails while Black Rock Campground was closed on Sunday March 22, 2020.

“I’ve had to patrol my property for the last two days,” Rennie said. “Saturday was the worst.”

Saturday’s chaos came as a large volume of visitors arrived for the weekend and no information had been posted on the park’s website in advance of the closure, he said.

All campgrounds were closed at Joshua Tree National Park on March 22, 2020 to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Joshua Tree National Park administrators had closed all of the park’s visitors centers March 17, according to notices posted on the park’s website and Twitter account.

The indefinite road and campground closures, announced by the park’s staff Saturday morning, were meant to help “slow the spread of the novel coronavirus” and keep the park’s staff and visitors safe.



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