Safely Using Trails and Outdoor Spaces During COVID-19 Event

By: 
Joe Jacobs
 Updated: 
Hiking at Lake Fort Smith State Park
Hiking at Lake Fort Smith State Park

Arkansas State Parks remain open at this time to provide needed outdoor spaces for our guests. While we have some diminished services, the parks are open for day-use activities including hiking, running, cycling, fishing, paddling, wildlife watching, etc. It’s vital that people find ways to engage in physical activity and be out in nature during this time; the benefits to our immune systems and our mental health are significant. But it is critical that we do so in ways that will help keep everyone safe and minimize the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flatten the Curve dos and don'ts

It is important to remember that Arkansas State Parks are not the only outdoor spaces that remain open. Arkansas is blessed with thousands of square miles of national forests, lakes and rivers, and regional and city parks right in your own backyard. While many of these places are also experiencing diminished services, most are still open to day-use activities and are excellent places to enjoy the outdoors while maintaining safe distances from other people. Please contact these parks directly for closure information or search online for updates.

Boy looking through binoculars

During the COVID-19 event, things are changing quickly and parks across the state are working to respond to these conditions to keep our guests safe. Please respect our park staff when asked to not congregate or when they must close various facilities in the parks. Social distancing means physical distancing. People who live in the same household need to keep 6 feet from others.

For information on current status at your state parks, visit https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/covid-19-update.

Below are some recommendations on how to keep yourself, other guests and park staff, safe when spending time outdoors during this pandemic:

GO SOLO AND AVOID CROWDS: #6FeetApart #PhysicalDistancing

  • Do not hold social gatherings at parks or anywhere.
  • Stay 6 feet away from people you do not live with. Share the trail and yield to others to maintain a safe distance.
  • Choose less frequented parks and trails. Do not park in a crowded parking lot or use a crowded trail.
  • During this crisis, some parks and trails are open for safe activities solo or with people living in the same household. 
  • Examples of safe activities to do solo or with people living in the same household: 
    • Hike/walk
    • Bike
    • Birding and wildlife watch
    • Fish
    • Kayak/canoe
    • Frisbee/catch/kicking a ball 
    • Sit under a tree, read, write, listen to music, draw

STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY: #KeepParksSafe

  • Do not visit parks that are closed.
  • Do not use water fountains or playgrounds.
  • If the parking lot is full, pick a different park. Do not park on the side of the road near the entrance; in most places this is illegal and you may be ticketed or towed.
  • Many restrooms and facilities are closed; plan ahead before leaving home.
  • Don’t stay long – give others the opportunity to have a safe experience. 
  • Stay at home if you or others in your household are sick.
  • Keep your dog on a leash. Treat your dog as a family member by keeping them distanced from others and other dogs. Clean up after your pet.
  • Leave no trace: pack out what you pack in because garbage collection is limited.

COVID-19 NRPA social distancing in public parks and trails

Arkansas State Parks
Digital Discovery