Tips for New Visitors Enjoying the Outdoors During Pandemic

California State Parks understands the importance of being in the outdoors, especially during these challenging times. The outdoors has been an escape for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, and being outside has many benefits such as boosting our energy, getting our daily dose of vitamin D and restoring our focus.

As more visitors appreciate and spend time in the outdoors, it is important to remember each of us plays a vital role in protecting the natural, cultural and historical resources. Our staff are noticing more litter, and although we have increased trash and maintenance capacity, it is important to be conscious of the effects our actions have on plants, wildlife and other people. Following the “Leave No Trace Behind” rule can help minimize the impacts to the natural beauty of our state parks so that future generations can also enjoy them.

Here are some visitor guidelines State Parks has implemented to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors and to help educate visitors on how to recreate responsibly:

  • Plan Ahead – Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of the park unit you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, if camping reservations can be booked and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
  • Stay Local  Stay close to home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Do not travel if you are sick or if someone in your household has had coronavirus in the last two weeks.
  • Stay Safer at 6 feet  No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Your guests should only include those in your immediate household. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance. Watch video about physical distancing during COVID-19.
  • Keep Clean  Be prepared. Not all restrooms are open to the public. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash. Leaving trash behind can have lasting impacts on the local environment and wildlife. Camping: If you are camping in an RV, please use the restrooms in your own unit. This will help reduce the use of the shared restrooms at campgrounds.
  • Stay Covered The state now requires you to wear a face covering in the outdoors when you cannot stay at least 6 feet away from others who are not your immediate household members. For details, please read California Department of Public Health’s guidance for the use of face coverings here. Visitors should also abide by their local county health orders.
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts – Where permitted, use established fire rings, keep fires small and burn all wood and coals to ash. Make sure to put out campfires completely.
  • Stay on Trails Do not walk off-trail or enter closed areas. Share the road with others.
  • Leave What You Find – Examine or photograph, but do not take natural objects you find.
  • Take Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated and bring plenty of snacks for your trip
  • Map Guides: Get a map of the area you will be hiking or camping.
  • Respect Wildlife – Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them and never feed them.

State Parks thanks visitors for their partnership as we collectively enable responsible recreation that protects the health of visitors, our dedicated parks staff and our public lands.

For more information on the latest efforts the department has taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, please visit

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