A COVID-19 Update From New York State Parks

Visiting the outdoors during the COVID-19 outbreak

The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) and the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) encourage New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice social distancing, and use common sense to protect themselves and others.

Getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, ride a bicycle, or visit a park or state lands is a healthy way to stay active, spend time with your immediate household family members, and reduce stress and anxiety while practicing physical distancing. While indoor spaces and restrooms at State Parks and DEC’s public facilities may be closed to prevent community spread of COVID-19, parks, grounds, forests, and trails are open during daylight hours, seven days a week.

State Parks, Lands, Forests, and facilities are monitored by Park Police, Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police Officers and other staff. These parks, lands, forests, and facilities and visitors will incorporate physical distancing to limit the potential spread of COVID-19. In addition, these officers and staff respond to, and assist, local agencies with search and rescue missions, wildfire suppression, and other response activities. Following this guidance will prevent unnecessary burdens on, and dangers to, state resources and local responders during the ongoing COVID-19 response.

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 (6) 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% alcohol when soap and water are not available; and
  • 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; and
  • 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; and
  • Spend time in the backyard or other personal outdoor space. Do not visit public outdoor spaces.

If you are over 70 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; and
  • Require visitors to wear masks, if available.

Below are some specifics for State Park visitors:

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.

  • Bear Mountain State Park: Parking capacity has been reduced by 50% to reduce the density of visitors at the park in an effort to improve social distancing. Parking will be limited until further notice.
  • Minnewaska State Park Preserve and Sam’s Point Area: Parking capacity has been reduced by 50% to reduce the density of visitors at the park in an effort to improve social distancing. Parking will be limited until further notice.
  • 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. This measure is taken for the safety of all visitors and to stop the spread of COVID-19. Park visitors should maintain 6 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 we have closed most indoor spaces – 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: Golf Courses are closed through May 7. State Parks will continue to evaluate the situation and will announce when the park facilities will open.

Early Season Camping and Pavilion/Shelters: Due to the global health crisis, all campsites, cabins, cottages, and pavilions/shelters are CLOSED through May 14th. All visitors with reservations will be issued a full refund. We ask for your patience as refunds are processed. Campgrounds are open for passive recreation in daytime.

Camping Reservations and Pavilion/Shelter Reservations: New York State has suspended all new camping, cabin and cottage and pavilion/shelter reservations for the 2020 season until further notice. We are assessing campground and pavilion status on a daily basis. If you’ve made a reservation for the season beginning May 15, and we determine your facility is safe to open, your reservation will be honored. However, visitors who wish to cancel an existing reservation may do so and receive a full refund. Thank you for your patience as we work to protect the safety of our visitors and staff.

Entrance Fees: All entrance fees have been waived.

Permits and Passes:
The Long Island Island Regional Office will only accept 2020 Beach Access permit applications (Dashboard Permits) by mail or email. Please do not visit the regional office in person. The application and all instructions are available at Long Island Dashboard Permits

Events: All public programming and events have been canceled until further notice.

Lifeguards: At this time, all qualifiers have been postponed through the end of April.

As the situation continues to develop, we will take any necessary actions to protect visitor and staff health. We appreciate your support and patience as we navigate this public health crisis together.

Resources: New York State Health Department COVID-19

To achieve compliance with the CDC’s directive to limit gatherings of 50 people or more, and to ensure the health and safety of Walkway staff and volunteer ambassadors, all Friends of the Walkway events are postponed through the end of May. The Friends will not operate information pavilions or have ambassadors on the bridge until state and local officials declare safe conditions for their operations and return. Additional updates will be posted at walkway.org and on our Facebook page as necessary.