A Reminder to Recreate Responsibly During MLK Weekend and Amidst the Ongoing Pandemic

Responsible recreation practices should be maintained at all times.

Contact: Newroom@parks.ca.gov

California State Parks and the USDA Forest Service (Forest Service) invite Californians to do their part to ensure safe and healthy outdoor experiences during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend and amidst the ongoing pandemic. Simple actions such as staying local, planning ahead, and following social distancing guidelines, can increase the outdoor experience for everyone. Additionally, recreating responsibly helps ensure that expanded access to recreational facilities, services and opportunities continues -- day use areas of national forests and state parks currently open to the public remain open for the health and welfare of Californians.

The Forest Service manages 18 National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region, which encompasses over 20 million acres across California, and assists state and private forest landowners in California, Hawaii and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands. With 280 state parks, California State Parks manages the nation’s largest state park system. The Forest Service and State Parks, with the California Department of Transportation, the California Highway Patrol and various community organizations, coordinate and administer 18 SNO-PARKS sites along the Sierra Nevada. Sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are just some healthy ways people can enjoy the SNO-PARKS from November 1 through May 30.

Below are some tips on how to recreate responsibly in the outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead: The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic and fluid. Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of your outdoor destination you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
    • SNO-PARKS:
      • A permit is required for each vehicle parked at a SNO-PARK site. Permits are sold as day permits or seasonal permits. Day permits are sold for $5 and are valid for one single day. Season permits are sold for $25.00 and are valid for the entire SNO-PARK season. More information can be found at ohv.parks.ca.gov/SNOPARKS.
      • Make sure your vehicle is snow ready.
      • Parking is on a first come, first-serve basis at all SNO-PARK sites. The public is advised that parking lots are filling up early in the day.
  • Parking: Road safety is paramount. Some roads may be closed due to winter conditions and illegal roadside parking only puts you, your family and other visitors at risk. If the first approved parking area is full, please proceed to the next approved parking area. Please visit us another day if parking lots are full.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties. If there are too many people to maintain the required physical distance, please visit us on a different day. 
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash. Park units are experiencing heavy use and you can help alleviate the impact on park facilities.
  • Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

Additional resources from the Forest Service and State Parks include:

  • California State ParksFlatten the Curve Website -- The department has created this online resource to serve as a one-stop center to find information on park closures and modifications and resources available to partners. Additionally, you will find information on complimentary broadcast-style home learning programs for K-12 student from various park locations across California.
  • Forest Service -- Recreate Responsibly Winter Toolkit -- The toolkit provides resources on planning ahead, weather conditions, avalanche awareness, trash management, and Leave No Trace principles. A Spanish version of the toolkit can be found here.

State Parks and the Forest Reserve thanks visitors for their partnership as we collectively enable responsible recreation that protects the health of visitors and the dedicated parks staff.

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California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.