SACRAMENTO, Calif. May 21, 2020 – California State Parks is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to plan properly and recreate responsibly this Memorial Day weekend and summer as the state continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Californians are advised to stay local, continue to practice physical distance of six feet or more, avoid congregating with others outside of their immediate household and abide by the new visitor guidelines State Parks has implemented across the state park system to limit the risk of exposure to the virus in the outdoors.
The State of California recognizes the importance of outdoor activities during this challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, State Parks is working with local entities on a phased and regionally-driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved.
Increasing access to some park units does not mean recreating in the outdoors is going back to normal. Visitors should expect a different state park experience than they are used to.
Here are some new visitor guidelines State Parks has implemented to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:
- Plan Ahead – With 280 park units in the state park system, visitors are advised to visit the webpage of their local outdoor destination before leaving home to find out if it is open, what new visitor guidelines are in effect and if parking is available.
- Stay Local – Stay close to home. Parking is temporarily very limited or non-existent at park units across the state. Walk or bike to parks in your local neighborhood. Do not take road trips to parks and beaches or to neighboring states.
- Leave it at Home – The use of coolers, umbrellas, shade tents, BBQs or chairs is not allowed in many park units. Plan ahead.
- Keep it Moving – Passive recreation (lounging, picnics, sunbathing, etc.) is being restricted where physical distance is a challenge. In those areas, only active recreation (walking, running, biking, boating, kayaking, off-highway riding, etc.) will be allowed. Also, observe one-way trails where they are in place.
- Stay Safer at 6ft — No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance.
- Keep Clean – Be prepared. Not all restrooms are open to the public. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.
Guided tours, campgrounds and indoor facilities like museums and visitor centers remain closed until further notice to prevent overcrowding and maintain physical distancing.
Though State Park Peace Officers and allied law enforcement entities have the authority to issue citations, the expectation is that the public will adhere to the advice of the public health officials, visitor guidelines and closures. State Parks will continue to monitor visitation and physical distancing across the state park system and if unsafe conditions develop, park units may close again. Follow State Parks on social media – Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – or visit www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve for the most up-to-date information on how the department is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tips on how to responsibly go boating, off-highway riding and hiking can be found online at www.parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips. State Parks is committed to providing access for people with disabilities even during this unprecedented, challenging time. Should a member of the public encounter an issue at a state park unit, they are being advised to contact the appropriate District Office for support.