Are California state parks open during the pandemic?


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Today we have another episode of Your trackwhere we answer readers’ questions about how the pandemic is changing everyday life in California. Submit your questions here.

Eli Edelson, a reader in Los Angeles, has been sheltering in place since March but wants to take a trip this summer with his friends to go hiking or camping. He wrote: “I am curious about the status of national parks and camping in California. Are they fully open? »

Although many national and state parks in California are open to the public, there is one caveat: visitors should always observe social distancing, although wide open spaces can facilitate this. And just because the landscape has changed, you need to take the same health precautions you would at home, like washing your hands regularly and not traveling if you feel sick.

Additionally, public health officials say visitors must be from the same household and should stay in small groups. They must wear masks when they cannot keep six feet away from other visitors.

“The state recognizes the need for people to explore the outdoors, get fresh air and exercise,” said Gloria Sandoval, assistant director of public affairs for California State Parks. “That’s why we’re increasing access through our state park system on the condition that Californians do their part.”

Campgrounds at 80 state parks are currently openand most California national parks are open to visitors, with restrictions.

Californians are still discouraged from traveling significant distances for recreation, so it is better to also choose a park near you.

Before embarking on a trip, Sandoval advises checking the park’s website first to make sure it’s still open, as things change quickly. State park rangers work hard to keep information on their site up to date. People can visit the Reserve California website to make a reservation or check if previous reservations are still valid. Visitors whose reservations have been canceled due to the pandemic have been notified by phone or email.

Once you’ve settled into a campsite, be prepared for limited access to services, such as barbecue grills, picnic areas and playgrounds. National park restrooms are open and being cleaned more frequently. Visitor information centers and museums remain closed, for the most part.

State officials are closely monitor counties where there has been an increase in cases and parks can be quickly closed in response.

[See The Times’s map tracking cases in California.]

“We are monitoring physical distancing and visitation, and if there is a need for us to revisit some of these opportunities to increase access, we certainly will,” Ms Sandoval said.

Mr Edelson, who works as a television writer, said Yosemite National Park was high on his travel wish list. The park has partially reopened, after reducing the number of vehicles allowed to enter. But due to the distance between the park and his home in Los Angeles, he might have to wait a bit longer to see El Capitan and Half Dome in person.

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Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at UC Berkeley and has reported across the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she still wants to see some more. Follow here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.

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