On Tuesday, more than 100 state parks in Washington will reopen for day use, an injection of Northwest normalcy into a period of profound uncertainty and stay-home order-induced cabin fever.
The reopenings are good news for the Pacific Northwest’s outdoors-loving community. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
First: Here’s the list of what will be opening. Anything on the list of parks remaining closed is off-limits, so check ahead.
If you’re planning to hit the trail, you might also have seen a graphic shared by Gov. Jay Inslee encouraging Washingtonians to “take the pledge” to participate in the reopening safely by using the hashtag #RecreateResponsibly. The graphics list public-health guidance tips superimposed onto photos of the great outdoors.
The images are sourced from Seattle-based photographer Scott Kranz, who made the slides and shared them on Twitter, where they were then shared by the governor. The guidance comes from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Kranz’s images are a useful gloss of this information, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Here’s what to keep in mind before you venture out:
Seek out public lands that are open and close to where you live. Don’t go into closed areas or anywhere a long drive away.
Day trips only. No overnight camping.
Only recreate with members of your household. That means people you already live with. Now is not the time to meet up with a friend who lives across town; in fact, the Department of Natural Resources is discouraging people from carpooling with anyone outside of their immediate household.
Have a plan, bring everything you need with you and limit stops. Because restroom access may be limited as outdoor areas reopen, DNR is recommending that you bring along your own soap, hand sanitizer, water and toilet paper. You should also plan to get gas before you leave, pack your lunch, and avoid unnecessary stops along the way.
Don’t take unnecessary risks. First responders are busy right now. Don’t add to their burden with off-trail shenanigans. And remember that right now, risky behaviors also include things like participating in gatherings or going out when you’re sick. Don’t do either.
Practice physical distancing. Leave empty spots between vehicles in parking lots. Launch boats one at a time. As you would anywhere else, maintain six feet of space between yourself and people outside of your immediate household. Avoid crowds. (This may mean avoiding popular outdoors spots. Find alternatives.)
Practice excellent hand hygiene and wear a mask if you’re around other people. Keep your hands clean and avoid touching high-traffic surfaces.
Be flexible. If you arrive at a trailhead and it’s mobbed, plan to go home or to a different area. It’s better to postpone your hike than to be a vector.
As always, leave no trace. If you pack it in, pack it out.