Over the weekend Caifornia began to quietly reopen parking lots at 27 state parks and beaches from Santa Cruz to Lake Tahoe to Orange County. Thirty-six of the 280 state parks were closed as of Monday.
Half or fewer parking spaces will be available in most of the reopened lots. The goal of closing the parks was to discourage people from visiting from far away and violating the state's stay-at-home order.
“It’s important for people to remember that it's not going to be the same when they go and explore the outdoors,” said Gloria Sandoval, California State Parks Deputy Director of Public Affairs.
Even though some parks are reopening, she says, the agency is encouraging people to only visit parks if they are local, which means parks in your immediate area and not traveling across counties to find green space. The goal is to prevent surges of people that she says were seen early on at beaches.
“At a number of our beaches coolers are no longer allowed on the beach, or umbrellas,” she said. At some of these beaches she says visitors aren’t allowed to lounge or sunbathe in an effort to keep people socially distancing. Also, some parks are instituting one-way trails as a preventative measure.
With nearly 300 parks in the state and varying city and county health ordinances, Sandoval says to check each park website for up-to-date information.
“Everybody has a responsibility to do their homework,” she said. “If an individual or family goes to a park and there's no longer parking space available for them. That means that you're not going to be able to enter the park. So, plan ahead.”
Campsite and high-traffic indoor facilities like museums and visitor centers are still fully closed. Fully closed means restrooms and parking facilities are shut down and no activities — including sunbathing, walking, jogging, or watersports — are allowed.
“I have some friends that are … already traveling to the Bay Area and some other places,” she said. “Right now it’s not the time to be doing that.”
As parks reopen, Sandoval says visitors need to understand they may open with little advance notice and that they should expect a different park experience then before COVID-19.
Below are the parks that now have limited parking:
Lake Oroville SRA
El Dorado County
Ed Z'berg Sugar Pine Point SP
Emerald Bay SP
Folsom Lake SRA (also in Sac and Placer county)
Lake Valley SRA
Washoe Meadows SP
Onyx Ranch Nevada County
Donner Memorial SP
Bolsa Chica SB
San Clemente SB
Crystal Cove SB Placer County
Kings Beach SRA
Lake Perris SRA
San Benito County
Hollister Hills SVRA
Santa Cruz County
Henry Cowell Redwoods SP
The Forest of Nisene Marks SP
Wilder Ranch SP
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial SP
Armstrong Redwoods SNR
Austin Creek SRA
Jack London SHP
Sugarloaf Ridge SP
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