State park day-use guide during COVID-19

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Oct 15, 2020

Day-use Guide

See our Camping Guide, too

Day-use Parking Permit Extension Information

We’re excited to welcome you to state parks this fall and winter, but things will be different from what you’re used to. Services will be limited for day-use and camping. We also need your help to ensure our parks can remain open.

The best way to help is Prepare + Care. Prepare before your trip, then care while in a park. If you're camping at a park too, check out our camping during COVID-19 guide so you know what to expect. 

Prepare

Stay home if you feel sick
If you’re not feeling well, the best way to get better (and to protect the health of others) is to stay home and rest up. Health experts recommend you stay home for 10 days following a fever or other symptoms. The parks will still be here for you when you feel better.

Check what state parks are open near you
Find out a state park’s open/closed status on our Park Status Map. Statuses may change quickly or without warning. If you’re unsure, call our park info line: 800-551-6949. If you show up at a park and it’s closed unexpectedly, please respect the closure and head out.

Choose a park close to home
Staying local means you won’t impact another community’s resources, like groceries or medical capacity. Plus, you don’t want to spend a few hours driving to a park only to discover it’s closed when you get there. Make a “Plan B” in case your first-choice park is closed or the parking lot is full when you arrive. Consider where else could you take a walk/hike, ride your bike, have a picnic, etc.

Know what to expect about park services
It will not be “business as usual” at state parks. Facilities will be closed, park hours may be reduced, and your behavior while in parks will need to be modified (more on that in the next section). These measures will help keep you and our staff safe. Do your research before you depart.

Pack what you need at home
Make sure you bring the essentials—water, snacks, face coverings, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, etc.—so you don’t have to stop on the way. Some services and rentals parks typically offer, such as life jackets, won't be available. Make sure you pack out everything you bring in.

Keep your group sizes small
Invite your immediate family members only, and keep group sizes to fewer than 10 people. This helps keep congestion down in high-traffic areas like restrooms, parking lots and trailheads. 

Care

If the park looks very crowded, consider heading elsewhere
If you show up to a park and the parking lot is slammed with cars and people, consider falling back on your Plan B park or activity. If you decide to stay, please don’t get creative with parking; only use designated parking areas. Parking on road shoulders is dangerous, and any vehicles parked illegally can be towed.

Choose safe or low-key activities
Take it easy during your visit; now is not the time to try a brand-new activity or long, difficult hike. We have fewer rangers than we usually do, so if you become hurt or lost, that will strain our already limited resources. And may also strain the limited resources of our rural community neighbors.

Maintain physical distance from others
Follow OHA guidelines and stay at least 6 feet away from other visitors who aren’t your family. This means taking turns using restrooms, stepping off trails to let others pass (if safe to do so), and not lingering at congested areas like parking lots or trailheads.

Wear your face covering around others
The same face covering guidelines for stores apply to the outdoors too: cover your face with a cloth or a mask when in high traffic areas where staying 6' away from others is impossible, like parking lots, restrooms, trailheads and crowded trails. If you need to cough or sneeze, aim for the crook of your elbow.

Know which facilities are open for visitor use
Check for posted signs on facilities; if it says “closed,” it means closed. Our service abilities are limited due to staffing, so not all of the usual facilities (like bathrooms) will be open.  Some popular facilities, like playgrounds or picnic shelters, may be closed outright.

Remember that all normal park rules still apply
Please follow all other established park rules. Read our Statewide FAQ if you need a refresher. 

Some parks are open for day-use and camping, with reduced services. Check the Park Status Map and FAQ for details. Campfire restrictions may be in place.