‘We’re closed for your hiking business.’ Communities near national parks urge non-locals to stay away.

Josh Berman, a Spanish teacher from Boulder, Colo., had been looking forward to his rafting trip with his 12-year-old for more than a year. As a father of three daughters, he annually alternates taking each one on an outdoor adventure. This year’s 45-mile rafting trip on the Green River from Colorado to Utah was easily the most off-the-grid excursion yet, and he and his daughter could barely contain their excitement.

But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Berman immediately pulled out of the trip. He knew they would be traveling through tiny communities scattered around Colorado’s Dinosaur National Monument, and he didn’t want to take the chance of bringing harm to them.

“I look at it this way: Instead of thinking about whether or not you’ll get infected, consider whether or not you’ll infect someone else,” he says of his decision. “When you flip it like that, it’s an easy choice.”

As the coronavirus rips across the country like wildfire, it’s easy to be lured by Mother Nature’s charms. And, why not — health experts and government officials have endorsed hiking’s healing power during these trying times.

But as with all things during the age of covid-19, nothing is as it seems. In this case, walking into the wild can be irresponsible — and not the safety net we need it to be.

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