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The NY State Park Guidelines You Need to Know During COVID-19

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Social distancing guidelines to note during the coronavirus pandemic, plus specifics on parking, playgrounds, and camping in the Hudson Valley. 

At this point in quarantine, we’re all a little tired of being stuck inside. It was great at first. We could stay home in our sweats for days at a time without the slightest ounce of guilt creeping in.

Then the sun came out. Its rays beckoned us to explore our beautiful lands, in the company of more than a few visitors from neighboring locales (we’re looking at you, New York City). And, in the midst of a pandemic, explorations come with a few necessary precautions.


In response to the surge of visitors to local parks, New York’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a few guidelines on outdoor recreation in the era of COVID-19, encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice social distancing, and use common sense to protect themselves and others.

Below, check out a few of these guidelines. They’re for the good of us all. For the most up-to-date information, keep close to the State Parks website.

While enjoying outdoor spaces, please continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) / State Department of Health (DOH) guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you are sick or showing or feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, coughing, and/or troubled breathing.
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, even when outdoors.
  • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, or high-fives.
  • Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.

DEC and State Parks also encourage visitors to State Parks, State Lands, and other parks to:

  • Stay local and keep visits short.
  • Visit in small groups limited to immediate household members.
  • Maintain distance from others while in places where people tend to congregate, such as parking lots, trailheads, and scenic overlooks.
  • Avoid games and activities that require close contact, such as basketball, football, or soccer.
  • Avoid playground equipment like slides and swings and other frequently touched surfaces.
  • Do not share equipment, such as bicycles, helmets, balls, or Frisbees.
  • If you arrive at a park and crowds are forming, choose a different park, a different trail, or return another time/day to visit.
  • If parking lots are full, please do not park along roadsides or other undesignated areas. To protect your safety and that of others, please choose a different area to visit, or return another time or day when parking is available.

If you are sick or have had contact with someone who is sick in the last 14 days:

  • Stay home.
  • Spend time in the backyard or other personal outdoor space. Do not visit public outdoor spaces.

If you are over 70 years old or have a compromised immune system:

  • Avoid visiting outdoor public spaces.
  • Remain indoors or spend time in the backyard or other personal outdoor space.
  • Pre-screen visitors by taking their temperature from a safe social distance.
  • Require visitors to wear masks, if available. 

Parking

To encourage physical social distancing at popular parks, trailheads, and scenic areas, State Parks will reduce the number of available parking spaces on high visitation days. Have a plan ready to visit a different park or another park area. Visit https://parks.ny.gov/parks/ for a list of parks. Park maps are available on each park page.

Hudson Highlands State Park: Parking spaces along Route 9D in the areas of Breakneck Ridge, Anthony’s Nose and the Appalachian Trail will be reduced and parking will be converted to parallel parking in order to reduce density. The Metro North parking area near Breakneck and the parking lot at Mount Beacon are closed. For additional parking restrictions, please visit https://parks.ny.gov/parks/9/details.aspx

Playgrounds, Athletic Courts, and Sporting Fields

All State Park playgrounds, athletic courts, and sporting fields are closed. Park visitors should maintain six feet of social distance and visit parks for solitary recreational activities only. Please avoid crowds and refrain from group activity.

Restrooms

Due to COVID-19 most indoor spaces are closed — visitor centers, nature centers, and historic houses. Some but not all public restrooms will continue to be available. Please note that many restrooms may still be closed until water systems are restored from seasonal closures. Visitors should plan accordingly and call the park office for more information.

Golf

Starting Saturday, April 25, golf courses operated by State Parks may be open. Operating schedules will differ across the state. Call the course directly for current information.

Camping and Pavilion/Shelters

All campsite, cabin, and pavilion/shelter reservations are canceled through May 31. All visitors will be issued a full refund. For those with cottage reservations, there is a possibility the stay restriction will be lifted prior to June 1. All new camping and pavilion/shelter reservations for the 2020 season have been suspended until further notice. For more information, visit https://parks.ny.gov/camping/.

Swimming

State Park pools and beaches will remain closed to swimming through May 31. State Parks continues to review plans to reopen swimming facilities, and will announce any change in status.

Boat Launches and Marinas

Marinas and boat launch sites are open where conditions allow. Call the park or regional office directly for current status.

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