Public Land Closures and Reopenings During COVID-19

This blog is a round-up of public land closures and reopenings related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Please respect these closures and as public lands re-open, recreate responsibly to keep the lands open for use!
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
May 08, 2020

We’re excited that public lands are beginning to reopen for recreation. While we’re all eager to get back to our favorite places, it’s critically important that we recreate responsibly to keep lands open for use. This is not a return to normal: COVID-19 is very much still a public health threat and we all need to make extra efforts to keep each other safe and public lands open. Please see our How To: Recreate Responsibly blog and  visit our COVID-19 blog and response page for more information.

This is an incomplete list of current closures and reopenings and updates will be made as we receive them. Please check each land manager's website for more current information, and email Amanda Virbitsky with any questions or updates.

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UPDATED 5/22/20

NATIONAL PARKS

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK

Mount Rainier National Park roads, parking areas, and trailheads remain closed to vehicles. Many park areas were designed to accommodate large numbers of visitors in concentrated areas; reopening them at this time would result in an unacceptable level of public health risk for visitors and staff. The park will continue to evaluate updated health guidance and will reopen to vehicles in a phased approach when it is safe to do so. For more information, visit the park’s website.

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK

North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area will be closed to all park visitors until further notice. SR20 will remain open to just west of the town of Newhalem.

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Olympic National Park has closed most roads at the park boundary. All overnight camping is closed in Olympic National Park, including in wilderness areas. All public facilities including visitor centers, contact stations, and restrooms are also closed.

The park will start to open some day-use facilities in the Barnes Point Area and other day-use areas on the northern edge of the park. In consultation with local public health officials, and in coordination with neighboring Tribes and communities, the park will consider opening additional day-use facilities on the east side of the park as conditions allow. The park’s westside areas and beaches will be the last day-use areas to open.

NATIONAL FORESTS

Many developed recreation sites on national forest land in both Oregon and Washington still remain closed to the public. These include trailheads, campgrounds, cabin rentals, visitor centers, snow parks, and all bathrooms. Read more on the Pacific Northwest Region website, review their Coronavirus FAQs, and find more specific information for each forest.

Please note that as these sites begin reopening to the public, services (restrooms, trash, etc.) are anticipated to be limited or nonexistent as staff address maintenance backlogs and incorporate new safety procedures.. Plan on packing out all of your trash, and do not assume that trailhead bathrooms will be open or usable.

WASHINGTON FORESTS

Tribal Land

The Makah Tribe has closed the Makah Reservation & Shi Shi Beach Trailhead to the general public until further notice. The Quileute Tribe has closed the Quileute Reservation to the general public which includes the Second Beach Trailhead.

STATE LAND

WASHINGTON STATE DNR

As of May 5, most lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources are open. DNR lands are open for day use only; campgrounds remain closed. Check the WA State DNR website for the latest site openings and before you plan your next adventure and follow the Governor's guidance and restrictions for recreation, including recreating locally and limiting recreation partners to only those who live within your household. Washington State DNR has also released a Recreate Responsibly Tip Sheet that applies to recreation on all public lands.

WASHINGTON STATE PARKS

Washington State Parks reopened most state parks on Tuesday, May 5, for local day-use recreation only. State parks in the Columbia River Gorge, on the Washington coast, and Wallace Falls remain closed. 

Visitor centers, camping and other overnight accommodations on state-managed lands will remain closed until further notice.

Please visit the Washington State Parks website for more detailed information.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife lands are open for day use recreation only. All camping and overnight accommodations remain closed until further notice. Expect limited access to restrooms as staff reopen facilities. 

Visit the WDFW website for more detailed information.

King County

King County’s parks and trails re-opened on Friday, May 8th with some restrictions. Regional and backcountry trails and parks are open while facilities like restrooms, play areas, campgrounds, and picnic shelters remain closed. 

King County Parks asks visitors to “Keep it Moving!” and use parks and trails for walking, running, riding, and rolling. No congregating in parking lots or trailheads and please practice physical distancing. 

The Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area and Rattlesnake Ledge Trail are temporarily closed to visitors until further notice due to concerns about COVID-19.

OTHER CLOSURES & NOTICES

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our local partners and the state of Washington, the BLM is temporarily closing a number of recreation sites. Read more and see full list.

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY

In alignment with Governor Inslee’s decision to partially reopen state recreational lands, lands owned or managed by The Nature Conservancy in Washington reopened May 5 with some important exceptions. For more information, visit The Nature Conservancy’s website.

NORTHWEST AVALANCHE CENTER

NWAC has decided to officially end avalanche forecasting for the remainder of the 2019/2020 season. Read their full statement online.

Photo by Luke Helgeson.


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Jeff Brennan
Jeff Brennan says:
Apr 22, 2020 08:57 AM

It's an absolute shame that our parks, where most of can easily practice separation, are closed down. And the Mountaineers shouldn't be quiet about it either.

The Mountaineers
The Mountaineers says:
Apr 29, 2020 03:29 PM

We're working in close partnership with land managers to understand how our members and programs can best re-engage with public lands and local communities while being mindful and supportive of the challenges they’re facing. As public lands begin to reopen in the coming weeks, it is critically important for all users to recreate responsibly. Read more on our blog: https://www.mountaineers.org/blog/how-to-recreate-responsibly-during-covid

Roseanne Lorenzana
Roseanne Lorenzana says:
Apr 25, 2020 11:44 AM

What information is available about BLM lands?

Leigh Ann Wolfe
Leigh Ann Wolfe says:
Apr 25, 2020 04:14 PM

For WA BLM info, check out the link below.

https://www.blm.gov/press-release/blm-temporarily-closes-recreation-sites-across-washington-state