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Late dogwood blossoms are backlit by a overcast sky as they form a curtain obscuring the Tennessee Artillery Monument in Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park in Fort Oglethorpe. The state of Tennessee provided monument for each branch of the military present at the battle, Confederate Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery. Tennessee also placed a second cavalry monument to recall the Sons of the Volunteer State who served with the Union Army. / Staff photo by Robin Rudd

Beginning this Friday, May 15,, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park will reopen access to certain areas of the park that were previously closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Civil War memorial park was shutdown in early April due to virus concerns. The reopening comes as national parks across the country begin to slowly increase access to parks while still asking visitors to practice social distancing. 

On Friday, the park will reopen access to all roads, picnic areas (except the recreation field in Chickamauga Battlefield) and most trails to foot traffic only, according to a news release. While horse trails are not yet accessible, park officials said it is a top priority as the park begins to increase access.

Access remains restricted for the visitor centers and high contact areas such as Point Park, Sunset Rock and Signal Point.

"We recognize that this temporary closure has been very difficult for local residents and visitors who seek inspiration in the park's historic and scenic landscapes," said superintendent Brad Bennett in a statement. "We are pleased to resume opportunities to experience the park while continuing to ensure the safety and well-being of all concerned."

If the visiting public does not comply with social distancing guidelines and park staff cannot safely mitigate these risks, selective closures of certain reopened areas will resume, the release states. 

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