Monday, September 25, 2023


RV Short Stops: Public lands reopening gradually

North Dakota’s Little Missouri State Park overlooking the Badlands. (Julianne G. Crane)

By Julianne G. Crane

Most of us are ready to get back to camping, especially in our favorite public park. We yearn for the open spaces, peaceful walking trails and calming waterways. We want to get outdoors to connect with the natural world and each other.

Many state and national parks are open for day use, but not overnight camping; others are completely closed. Trying to find information on which public park is open can be tedious and requires contacting each individual park to be certain if the gate will be open when you arrive with your RV.

Public Lands resources to start your research:

National Parks: Staying Safe and Recreating Responsibly

“Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local public health authorities, we are increasing access and services in a phased approach across all units of the National Park System.”

‘Stay Safe’ Recreate Responsibly (NPS/Matt Turner)

Because of national parks’ escalating popularity, now more than ever before, each park visitor has a responsibility to ensure the protection of these magical places. The National Park Service appeals to all of us to “recreate safely and responsibly.”

Our beautiful national treasures are seeing congestion and overcrowding. “It becomes increasingly difficult to adhere to CDC and local public health guidelines regarding social distancing,” says park management. They have had “to make difficult decisions to place restrictions over more park grounds, such as trails and overlooks.”

“We urge visitors to park only in designated areas, pack out everything you bring into a park, plan a visit at times other than busiest of the day, maintain social distance from other visitors, and if you encounter a crowded trail-head or overlook, seek another location to recreate.”

Before planning a trip to your favorite national park, check with individual parks for specific details about its operating status. Updates about the overall NPS response to COVID-19, including safety information, are posted here.

State Parks:
Oregon’s Collier State Park (Julianne G. Crane)

Currently no daytime or overnight visitors are permitted at any Oregon state park. 

“There is no date for opening day-use at any state park. State park camping and day-use reservations have been cancelled from May 8 through and including May 25.” The park system “will share the status of future reservations before May 25, but more cancellations are likely.”

“This decision does not currently affect the entire ocean shore, but it does close all state park-managed parking lots and beach accesses.” For complete details read the Covid-19 park closure information.

North Dakota

All of the year-round North Dakota Parks and Recreation areas are currently open for day-use only. Please note the visitor centers and restroom facilities are currently closed.

The Parks and Recreation department is currently reimbursing all camping reservations up until May 21, as the campgrounds will remain closed until that date. The department is currently monitoring the situation and will make a decision on Memorial Day weekend soon. For updates on the Covid-19 Pandemic click here.

Ohio’s shady Alum Creek State Park. (Julianne G. Crane)

Public outdoor spaces at Ohio state parks, wildlife areas, forests and nature preserves remain open, including trails, dog parks, and docks with a few exceptions.

However, public restrooms and all overnight facilities at Ohio State Parks are currently closed. All events are suspended through May 15. Please visit ODNR’s operations page to keep up-to-date on changes in the COVID-19 situation.

For other federal land management agencies and their updates, please visit:

Julianne G. Crane
Read more of Julianne’s RV Short Stops posts here.
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Julianne G. Crane
Julianne G. Crane
Julianne G. Crane writes about the RVing and camping lifestyles for print and online sites. She was been hooked on RVing from her first rig in the mid-1980s. Between 2000-2008, she was a writer for The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash. One of her popular columns was Wheel Life about RVing in the Pacific Northwest. In 2008, Crane started publishing RV Wheel She and her husband, Jimmy Smith, keep a homebase in southern Oregon, while they continue to explore North America in their 21-foot 2021 Escape travel trailer. Over the years they have owned every type of RV except a big class A. “Our needs change and thankfully, there’s an RV out there that fits every lifestyle.”


  1. This type of info is fairly useless to RVers. If parks are ‘open but not for camping’ well, that’s not helpful.
    If someone wanted to compile a list of which states do allow camping in parks currently (it’s a short list) and keep it updated as conditions change, that would be great.

    I am full-timing, scrambling for sites, and making use of the ‘open parks lists’ maintained by RVillage, etc. But meanwhile, I’d like to make note of which states I can route through this spring and summer. And over the long term, which states (the ones which threw us out) to avoid.

  2. I would honestly like to know why it is more dangerous to sleep overnight in an RV than to mingle with the masses during the day. Does the danger only exist in government run campgrounds?

    • Uninformed decisions by the people at the top who are too busy to consider the fine points of each individual circumstance. They seem to consider the campground bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc. as potential points for spread of the virus, and there isn’t enough staff to maintain pandemic level cleaning.

    • Seems sleeping in your own RV spread out in a COE campground is more dangerous than temporary accommodations in a freakin hotel. Makes ZERO sense. Politicians are morons!


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