Frequently Asked Questions - State Parks and COVID-19

What is California State Parks doing to protect the public?
The State of California recognizes the benefits of the outdoors during this challenging time of COVID-19. As such, State Parks is 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.

Governor Newsom’s Stay-at-Home Order asks Californians to stay close to home, maintain physical distancing and avoid congregating with others outside their immediate household. The operations of the park system have been modified to provide an outdoor experience that reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and modifications at each park may vary. Consequently,the public is advised to plan ahead—check 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. Visitors should expect a different state park experience than they are used to.

The department thanks you for recreating responsibly in the outdoors.

To date, State Parks has temporarily implemented the following safety measures:

  • Closed some parks fully, meaning all vehicular access, trails and restrooms within these parks are closed.
  • Some state parks and beaches have no vehicle access, meaning no parking facilities and parking on roadways is prohibited. Remaining state parks and beaches have limited vehicle access available.
  • Most campgrounds are still temporarily closed. Some campgrounds have started to reopen with modifications using this phased and regionally driven approach.
  • All museums and visitor centers are temporarily closed.
  • All events were canceled. New event cancellations or requests to postpone already-approved events are not being accepted at this time.

What does “fully closed parks” 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.

Are ALL 280 state parks are closed to vehicular traffic?
No. California State Parks is working with locals on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access to some state park units only where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved (view list).

As a reminder, the stay-at-home order modifications do not mean things are going back to normal. Visitors should expect a different state park experience than they are used to. The public is advised to plan ahead—check 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.

What is currently open? Are trails open where there are parking lot closures?

Governor Newsom’s stay-at-home order still asks Californians to stay close to home, practice physical distancing and avoid congregating with others outside their immediate household.

Additionally, Californians are encouraged to check the webpage of their local outdoor destination before leaving home to find out if it is open, what new visitor guidelines are in effect and if parking is available.

Please remember to respect the landscapes by staying on designated trails, not picking flowers, taking only photos and packing out all your trash if no trash bins are available.

Are boat launching ramps also closed? 
Some boat launching facilities have opened. 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.

Will State Parks eventually be closing all parks during these challenging times?
At this time, there are no plans to close all state parks. On the contrary, State Parks is working with locals on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access to state park units only 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.

I was notified that camping reservations across our State Parks’ system were cancelled through June 21, 2020. My reservation was made for camping before June 21, and the park that I booked a reservation for is now open for camping. Will my camping reservation be automatically rescheduled?
No. All visitors who want to use campgrounds prior to June 21 will need to make new reservations. Since these park units are not reopening at full capacity at this time, the number of prior reservations exceed the available slots under the current limitations. Restarting the reservation process allows equitable access to available campground slots.

During these unprecedented times, State Parks will continue to adapt its operations across the system to comply with state and local public health orders to mitigate the spread of the virus. It is a dynamic situation across the state.

I have a reservation for a date after June 21 this year. Will my reservation hold or will it be canceled?
Our goal is to reopen as many of the state parks campsites across the state as allowed under state and local public health orders. Reservations are only canceled when necessary to comply with these orders.

Whether your specific reservation will be cancelled depends on whether the campground you have reserved is being open at full capacity by the time of your reservation. If this campground is being opened at full capacity by the date of your reservation, then it is anticipated that reservation will hold. If the campground is not being reopened at full capacity by that date, your reservation may be cancelled. Keep in mind, park openings are a dynamic situation across the state so cancellations remain a possibility in all locations.

Should reservations need to be canceled, affected reservation holders will be contacted by ReserveCalifornia via email and provided with a refund. Cancellation fees are waived. Reservation cancellations and refunds will be automatic. As such, visitors do not need to take any action. However, please note that due to the volume of visitors affected, the refund process may take some time.

Does this mean that only new reservations can be booked? What about those who were canceled?
Unfortunately, we are not able rebook reservations or to provide early access to previous reservation holders. The large number of prior reservations in the system would exceed the current available slots and the number of accessible parks under the reopening plan. In order to give everyone fair access to available campground slots, State Parks needs to restart the booking process at zero reservations. 

The department is currently accepting reservations for late summer and fall 2020, please note that these reservations may be subject to change or cancellation due to the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 situation.

If my reservation were canceled, will I get any special priority when rebooking for a future date?
See answer above.

Will State Parks continue to cancel camping reservations at other state park units that are not reopening now or in the near future?
Yes, cancellations will continue to be made in regions where compliance with local and public health orders cannot be achieved and parks cannot yet reopen.

Affected reservation holders will be contacted by ReserveCalifornia via email and provided with a refund. Cancellation fees are waived. Reservation cancellations and refunds will be automatic. As such, visitors do not need to take any action. However, please note that due to the volume of visitors affected, the refund process may take some time. State Parks appreciates the patience of the public as it moves through this process.

For questions on reservations, please call ReserveCalifornia's Customer Service line at (800) 444-7275. Hours of operation: 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. PDT.

What is State Parks doing to ensure customer access to the 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?
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 park units reopening 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.

Why is my favorite park not open for camping?
State Parks is working with local entities on a phased and regionally-driven approach to increase access at state park units only where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. As camping opportunities are made available to the public, State Parks is making sure that the park units can safely accommodate the need for physical distancing and sanitation, and that public health orders can be achieved. It is critical for Californians to continue to recreate responsibly in the outdoors. State Parks thanks you for recreating responsibly in the outdoors.

Will group camping be allowed at this time?
No. Large gatherings are not allowed under current public health orders. Consequently, group camp facilities are currently closed. State Parks is encouraging visitors to camp with their families or those in their immediate household only, and to remain in small groups. Depending on the campsites, groups of six to eight people may be accepted.

Are there any vehicle restrictions? How many vehicles are being allowed per campsite?
A maximum or two (2) licensed vehicles/autos, boat and utility trailers-may be parked at most campsites. Please visit the webpage of your destination for details.

What type of reduced services will I see when I go camping?
Visitors should be aware that State Parks continues to take precautions to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 even as public access is increasing. These measures will vary by park, but in general are intended to limit group gatherings and promote physical distancing. Visitors can anticipate that they may see reduced availability of amenities such as fire rings, barbecues, camp stores, playgrounds and group picnicking facilities. Additionally, all visitor centers remain closed.

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 in order 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?
A list of park units that remain fully closed is found online at www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve. Visitors are advised to check the webpage of their local outdoor destination before leaving home to find out if it is open, what new visitor guidelines are in effect and if parking is available.

Where can people find information about physical distancing restrictions, vehicle occupancy limits, etc.?
Please visit the State Parks COVID0-19 Resource Center (www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve) to view the new safety guidelines implemented by State Parks to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors. Visitors are also advised to check the webpage of their local outdoor destination before leaving home to find out if it is open, what new visitor guidelines are in effect and if parking is available.

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?
Here are some visitor guidelines State Parks has implemented to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:

  • Plan Ahead – Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of the park unit you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, if camping reservations can be booked and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
  • Stay Local – Even though businesses around the state are opening up, stay close to home. Parking is very limited or non-existent at park units across the state. Walk or bike to parks in your local neighborhood. Do not travel if you are sick or if someone in your household has had coronavirus in the last two weeks.
  • Leave it at Home – The use of coolers, umbrellas, shade tents, barbecues or chairs is not allowed in many park units.
  • Keep it Moving – Passive recreation (lounging, picnics, sunbathing, etc.) is being restricted where physical distance is a challenge. In those areas, only active recreation (walking, running, biking, boating, kayaking, off-highway riding, etc.) will be allowed. Also, watch out for one-way trails.
  • Stay Safer at 6 feet -- No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings, picnics or parties. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance.
    • Boating: Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to other recreators.
    • Off-highway Vehicle Recreation: Do not ride next to others or pull up next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others. Stage 10 feet or more from each other during unloading and loading.
  • Keep Clean – Be prepared. Not all restrooms are open to the public. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.
    • Camping: If you are camping in an RV, please use the restrooms in your own unit. This will help reduce the use of the shared restrooms at campgrounds.
  • Stay Covered – If your county requires the use of face coverings, please wear one. It is recommended that you carry a mask in the outdoors in case you cannot maintain physical distancing from others while hiking or going into a public area.

State Parks will continue to monitor visitation and physical distancing across the State Park System and if unsafe conditions develop, park units may close again.

Will my annual park pass be extended due to the park/vehicular access closure?
State Parks thanks all who purchased annual passes last past year and have been unable to use them during the last three months due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and its statewide impact. The department is extending annual passes for three (3) months to those pass holders meeting the below criteria.

Annual Pass Expired or will Expire:

Extension through:

Expired March 1, 2020 - June 30, 2020

September 30, 2020

Expires July 1, 2020 – April 30, 2021

+3 months


This extension applies to the following annual passes:

  • California Explorer Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass (Hangtag)
  • California Explorer Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass (Hangtag)
  • Centennial Redwood "Golden Poppy" Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass (Hangtag)
  • Tahoe Regional Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass (Hangtag)
  • Historian Passport Day Use Annual Pass (Wallet Card)
  • Boat Use Annual Pass (Hangtag or Sticker)
  • Oversized Vehicle Pass (Hangtag or Sticker)
  • Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass (Hangtag)
  • Limited Use Golden Bear Pass

All other terms and conditions of your will pass remain in effect.

If you have any questions, please contact the Park Pass Sales Office at ParkPassInfo@parks.ca.gov or (800) 777-0369 ext. 2 or (916) 653-8280. You may also contact your nearest State Park District Office. Thank you for your continued patronage to the State Park System.

When will all state parks reopen? Is State Parks working on any plans to reopen parks?
At this time, it is unknown when the State Park System will fully reopen. The State of California recognizes the benefits of the outdoors during this challenging time of COVID-19. As such, State Parks is 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. To date, limited public parking is available at 164 park units and 21 park units remain temporarily fully closed. Some campgrounds have started to reopen with modifications using this phased and regionally driven approach. The Department is working with local health agencies across the state to determine when campgrounds may reopen and whether they can open at full or reduced capacity.

Governor Newsom’s Stay-at-Home Order asks Californians to stay close to home, maintain physical distancing and avoid congregating with others outside their immediate household. The operations of the park system have been modified to provide an outdoor experience that reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and modifications at each park may vary. Consequently,the public is advised to plan ahead—check 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.

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.

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.
  • Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) Distance Learning Program is offering free home learning programs for families. Programs are now available between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. PDT, Monday through Friday. Each hour focuses on a specific range of grade levels where interpreters will read books and tell stories about their parks, tour iconic museums including Hearst Castle and explore majestic redwood forests and marine protected areas. Families can register for the home learning programs by visiting the new PORTS website, www.ports-ca.us. Currently, space is limited to 500 families per program, but thanks to an established partnership with Zoom Video Communications, PORTS will be increasing the spaces available for these webinars in the coming weeks to meet the growing demand.