Frequently Asked Questions - State Parks and COVID-19

Updated: June 15, 2021

What does “temporarily closed” mean for the public?
Park units temporarily fully closed means there is no public access at these public outdoor spaces. All beaches, trails and restrooms within these parks are closed. Additionally, there are no parking facilities for visitors, including for off-highway vehicles and recreational boats.

A list of the full closures is available online (view list). This list is dynamic and is updated with new information as it becomes available. The public is urged to check with their local and county authorities on their park closures.

What is California State Parks currently doing to protect the public during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The State of California recognizes the benefits of the outdoors during this challenging time of COVID-19. As such, State Parks has been working with local officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access at park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. The reopening of state park units will be made with little advance notice.

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the outdoors, State Parks implemented the following safety measures prior to the lifting of the Regional Stay at Home Order in January 2021:

  • Closed some parks fully, meaning all vehicular access, trails and restrooms within these parks are closed.
  • Some state parks and beaches had no vehicle access, meaning there were no parking facilities and parking on roadways was prohibited. Some state parks and beaches had limited vehicle access.
  • Closed all campground sites, museums and visitor centers.
  • All events were canceled.

Since the lifting of the Regional Stay at Home Order in January 2021, State Parks has reopened almost all campground sites, day-use public outdoor areas, and indoor facilities such as visitor centers and museums. A few units and group campsites remain closed due to COVID-19, wildfire impacts or other issues.

State Parks will continue to use a monitor and adapt strategy to meet any new guidance it may receive from local and state public health officials as COVID-19 is still present and still deadly, especially for the elderly, immune-compromised and the unvaccinated.

Whether you are an experienced outdoor enthusiast or a new one, we look forward to seeing you in California’s park trails, beaches, mountains and the deserts but ask that you recreate responsibly. Wear a mask when required and stay home if you are sick. Thank you for helping reduce the exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors. Together we are protecting the safety of visitors and those who take care of the State Park System.

Below are the latest set of COVID-19 guidelines for the State Park System:

Recreate Responsibly
Protect yourself, family, friends and your community by following these prevention measures: 

  • Know Before You Go – Prior to leaving home, check the status of the park unit you want to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Have a back-up plan in case your destination is crowded. Stay home if you are sick.
  • Plan Ahead - Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer.
  • Play It Safe – Find out what precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors, especially if this is your first time visiting the State Park System. Learn more at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
  • Be COVID-19 Safe – State Parks continues to follow guidance provided by the California Department of Public HealthWear a mask when required. Read the latest face covering guidance.
  • Leave No Trace – Leave areas better than how you found them by staying on designated trails and packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or plants.

State Parks will continue to use a monitor and adapt strategy to meet any new guidance it may receive from local and state public health officials as COVID-19 is still present and still deadly, especially for the elderly, immune-compromised and the unvaccinated.

What is currently open?
Since the lifting of the Regional Stay at Home Order in January 2021, State Parks has reopened almost all campground sites, day-use public outdoor areas, and indoor facilities such as visitor centers and museums. A few units and group campsites remain closed due to COVID-19, wildfire impacts or other issues.

The public is advised to “Know Before You Go” by checking the webpage of their local outdoor destination before leaving home to find out if it is open, what new guidelines are in effect and if parking is available. 

State Parks will continue to use a monitor and adapt strategy to meet any new guidance it may receive from local and state public health officials as COVID-19 is still present and still deadly, especially for the elderly, immune-compromised and the unvaccinated.

What is State Parks doing to ensure customer access to the reservation system, lower wait times and smooth website transactions?
ReserveCalifornia’s call center and web support teams are ready to assist Californians as quickly and conveniently as possible, but it is important for the public to understand that the demand for camping sites exceeds the inventory even during regular times. Understanding that the initial demand for reservations is expected to exceed available slots, State Parks appreciates your patience as it manages extremely high volumes of calls and website traffic.

How long should I expect to wait for a response from ReserveCalifornia?
Our goal is to provide all of our customers with high-quality service. Unfortunately, due to expected high demand via phone calls and web inquiries, customers may experience longer than normal wait times for assistance.

How can reservations be booked for campground sites?
New reservations may be booked online at www.ReserveCalifornia.com or via phone at (800) 444-7275. Hours of operation: Seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. PDT.

I’ve been on my computer for several days at 7:59 a.m. to try to get reservations, but no luck. When the clock turns to 8 a.m., it says campgrounds are sold out. Are bots or individuals gaming the system?
Although the department has reopened the majority of campsites across the State Park System, there are some campgrounds that remain closed due to the pandemic, wildfire impacts and other issues. As such, the inventory of available sites is less than before the pandemic. Even without a pandemic, the demand for camping and lodging sites often exceeds the available inventory. The public is advised to do some research and have alternate parks in mind in case the first choice is booked. 

State Parks has implemented measures to reduce people from gaming the reservation system, such as: 

  • Hardware and applications that provide several layers of safety for the ReserveCalifornia system and users.
  • A policy that strictly states that reservations made via ReserveCalifornia are for personal use only. Any resale, transfer, use, for-profit activity or memberships that are not approved in advance by California State Parks are strictly prohibited and will be subject to immediate cancellation without notice, refund or reimbursement. Accounts may be blocked, terminated and cancelled without notice by the department for any attempts or participation in any prohibited or unlawful activities. There are currently no approved vendors to operate as third-party partners. 

Will group camping be allowed at this time?
Yes, many of the group campsites are open to the public. Please visit the webpage of your destination for details.

Are there any vehicle restrictions? How many vehicles are being allowed per campsite?
Please visit the webpage of your destination for details.

Will restrooms be cleaned and sanitized? Will the showers be working and available to campers?
State Parks will clean and sanitize the restrooms, including showers where available, according to the guidance of local, county and state health departments. In some cases, restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own soap and hand sanitizer. Please help us keep public outdoor spaces clean for everyone by packing out all trash.

Will payments still be able to be made with cash or only with credit card and some other form of touchless payment system?
State Parks is accepting cash and credit card and touchless payments via card and mobile devices. Credit card payments for advance camping reservations can also be made online on the ReserveCalifornia website.

Will I still be able to purchase supplies, food, ice, wood, etc., on-site or at the camp store?
These amenities depend on each individual park. Please check the park unit’s webpage for more information on available facilities.

Which park units are now open?
The majority of park units are fully open. Visitors are advised to check the webpage of their local outdoor destination before leaving home to find out if it is open and what new visitor guidelines are in effect. Click here to view the park units that remain temporarily closed.

Are boat launching ramps also closed? 
Most boat launching facilities have opened with the exception of those with low water levels. Visitors are advised to visit the webpage of their local outdoor destination before leaving home to find out if it is open, what visitor guidelines are in effect and if parking is available. 

Are there any tips for recreational boaters and off-highway vehicle riders?
For safety tips for various outdoor recreational activities, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.

How is State Parks providing access for people with disabilities?
State Parks is committed to providing access for people with disabilities even during this unprecedented, challenging time. Should a member of the public encounter an issue at a state park unit, they are being advised to contact the appropriate District Office for support.

What are some basic protocols to minimize the possible transmission of COVID-19 when outdoors?
Below are the latest set of COVID-19 guidelines for the State Park System:

Recreate Responsibly

Protect yourself, family, friends and your community by following these prevention measures:

  • Know Before You Go – Prior to leaving home, check the status of the park unit you want to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Have a back-up plan in case your destination is crowded. Stay home if you are sick.
  • Plan Ahead - Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer.
  • Play It Safe – Find out what precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors, especially if this is your first time visiting the State Park System. Learn more at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
  • Be COVID-19 Safe – State Parks continues to follow guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health:
    • Fully Vaccinated Persons: Face coverings are not required in public outdoor settings. For indoor public settings, such as museums and visitor centers, all vaccinated individuals are to self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry. 
    • Unvaccinated Persons: Face coverings are required in indoor public settings such as museums and visitor centers.
  • Leave No Trace – Leave areas better than how you found them by staying on designated trails and packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or plants.

State Parks will continue to use a monitor and adapt strategy to meet any new guidance it may receive from local and state public health officials as COVID-19 is still present and still deadly, especially for the elderly, immune-compromised and the unvaccinated.

When will all state parks reopen? Is State Parks working on any plans to reopen parks?
Almost all park units are open, including campground sites, visitor centers and museums.

Is State Parks offering any free learning resources for families?
State Parks invites the public to explore the nation’s largest state park system virtually. Here are different ways to do so:

  • Many state parks are offering live feeds across their social media platforms, and state parks can also be explored online via Google Street View Treks.
  • For those wishing to view livestreams from various park units across the state, please our live video gallery.

With more than 75 million people visiting California’s state parks annually and over six million K-12 students in California’s public schools, State Parks is in a unique position to provide outdoor classroom space and educational programming to California’s communities. Learn more at parks.ca.gov/LearningPrograms.