The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly altering our daily life. To keep ourselves, our communities, and our outdoor spaces safe and healthy during this time, please consider these recommendations.

Stay Home, or at Least Stay Local

While it can be disappointing, the best thing to do might be to stay home, especially if you are sick. Even if you are not symptomatic, saying home is still a good idea. Park rangers, volunteers, and locals in the often small and rural gateway communities near our favorite outdoor spaces need to be kept safe and healthy too. That’s not to say you need to be stuck indoors though. Now is the time to enjoy your local trails, open spaces, and parks. Rather than travel to big name outdoor areas, see what is available in your own backyard and neighborhood.

Expect Closures

As businesses limit services or direct their staff to work remotely, closures should be expected. This can mean not only visitor centers, service stations, and restaurants, but also parks and outdoor areas. The result could be a lack of water, restrooms, campgrounds, or other facilities, or even entire areas closed to the public. Do your best to research before you leave home, but also be prepared for things to change quickly. Take necessary precautions like bringing extra food and water, learning how to go to the bathroom outdoors, and being ready to pack all your trash out with you.

Pack Out Your Trash

With limited staff and services likely in many parks and protected areas, trash and recycling receptacles may not be emptied as often as normal. This can result in trash overflowing from receptacles which becomes litter and can harm wildlife. Instead, pack all your trash and recyclables out with you all the way home and utilize your own receptacles.

Avoid Times and Places of High Use

Social distancing definitely applies outdoors. To avoid creating large crowds and groups at popular trails or outdoor areas, spread out to less popular spots, and avoid times of highest use if possible. If an outdoor area is more crowded than anticipated, don’t hesitate to adjust plans.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

We are all in this together. Be considerate of other outdoor visitors by washing your hands regularly and using hand sanitizer when hand washing facilities are not available, sneezing and coughing into a tissue or your elbow, and keeping group sizes small. Also be kind to park staff during these challenging times. Help them do their job by doing your part to take care of each other and the land. Together we can get through this and get back to enjoying our outdoor spaces as usual.