National Parks and COVID-19: Be ready for changes

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Planning on a visit to one of the nation’s jewels? The U.S. Park Service wants to make sure your health and that of Service employees is kept safe. Earlier this week the Service announced it is “taking extraordinary steps” to put CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines in place throughout the system.

“Where it is possible,” park outdoor spaces will remain open to public access. Some park activities and services may be impossible to carry on as normal under the strict CDC guidelines. Since a one-size-fits-all won’t work across the Park Service’s holdings, each park will have to make the hard calls as to what goes on, and what will be shut down for the time being.

No, Smokey doesn’t want you to wear a mask to the park. He just wants to make his point! Save masks for health professionals and sick folks.

The advice to RVers and other visitors: Before you head out, check out each park’s individual webpage for restrictions and shutdowns. When visiting the parks (or any other venue), be wise and take the precautions we’ve all been hearing about: Maintain that safe distance between yourself and the next guy – six feet. Keep your fingers off your face. Use a tissue if you need to cough or sneeze, and then dump it in a trash receptacle immediately. And if you feel sick, do yourself and everyone else a critical favor: STAY HOME.

##RVT940

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Steve Foth

San Bernardino National Forest is still open for campers and Recreation.Gov states: “The local managers are closely monitoring the situation and working with our participating agencies to respond to current conditions. We are also adapting to this situation as it quickly evolves.
At this time, there are no changes to our refund policy or procedures. If you have a reservation at a location that has been closed by local management, you’ll receive an email with more information.”
In other words if you have a reservation and want to cancel to follow the shelter in place directive you will not get a full refund.
Not cool, National Forest Service, not cool.

Tony D

Yosemite National Park has closed to all visitors as of last night. I would expect more National Parks to follow suit especially in states that have or will issue shelter in place orders

C.Lee

Though national parks currently remain open, and are now “free” to enter, Death Valley National Park has closed it’s campgrounds. There is limited opportunity for boondocking in an RV in Death Valley proper…no overnight camping is allowed, of any kind, on the valley floor EXCEPT in developed campgrounds, so that’s out. What’s more, the area is immense, with limited opportunity for fuel and supplies. Roads are mostly unpaved, and can be quite rough. I’ve camped in the area for over 20 years, both in the “front country”, and “back country”, and there are plenty of opportunities for boondocking in the area around Death Valley, on both NPS and BLM lands, but it’s only for the adventurous! If you choose to go, take PLENTY, and I mean PLENTY, of water, food, and other necessities. Be prepared for 100 miles or more to supplies…and during this time, be aware that there may be no supplies when you get there!

Anyhoo..if you are thinking of that area, do your research, know where you are and how far it is to town, and be prepared with enough supplies to last quite a while. It’s big area, and one can find an isolated spot to hunker down awhile..but by all means, be prepared! I cannot stress that enough!

Friendly advice: If you aren’t mentally and physically prepared for serious, long-term boondocking, away from help of any kind, including medical help, don’t go!