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story.lead_photo.caption Hot Springs National Park visitors walk past the Fordyce Bath House, which is closed due to the pandemic, on Tuesday, April 21. - Photo by Richard Rasmussen of The Sentinel-Record

The National Park Service said Friday it will increase some recreational access and visitor services at Hot Springs National Park, following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local public health authorities.

The park service said in a news release that, effective Friday, it will reopen access to visitor services on the front porch of the Fordyce Bath House; restrooms at the top of Hot Springs Mountain; and the Gulpha Gorge day-use area, which is accessible only by hiking.

The release states parking and restrooms will remain closed at Gulpha Gorge, along with the campground.

"Parking in front of the entrance is prohibited in order to allow for emergency vehicle traffic," the agency said.

The following areas will continue to be available:

• Trails, roads, and thermal and cold-water fountains.

• Concession services operating in bath houses and Hot Springs Mountain Tower are open for limited services, according to state and CDC guidelines. "Contact the businesses for hours and services," the release states.

Some facilities will remain closed at this time "with public health in mind," the release states. Those include:

• Fordyce Bathhouse and Museum.

• Gulpha Gorge Campground.

• Administration Building.

The park service said it is working service-wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to "closely monitor” the pandemic and is increasing access on a “park-by-park basis.”

“We are taking a phased approach to resuming some visitor services in order to slow the spread of the virus,” Hot Springs National Park Superintendent Laura Miller said in the release. “Our first priority is to protect our community's residents, our employees, and our visitors. We look forward to the time when we can welcome all visitors back to fully experience the park."

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