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NY's Outdoors Are Open

#RecreateLocal - Safely and Responsibly

Get Outside Safely, Responsibly, and Locally


New York State is encouraging people to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. New York State DEC and State Parks recommendations for getting outside safely incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

To support this effort, DEC and State Parks are encouraging visitors to New York's great outdoors and to use the hashtags #RecreateResponsibly and #RecreateLocal on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share their visit and encourage others to get outside safely, responsibly, and locally, too. Use the DECinfo Locator to find a DEC-managed resource near you and visit the State Parks website for information about parks and park closures.

Getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, swim, ride a bicycle, fish, hunt, go horseback riding, go boating, or visit a park or state lands is a healthy way to stay active, spend time with immediate household and family members, and reduce stress and anxiety when practicing social distancing. While indoor spaces and restrooms at State Parks and DEC public facilities may be closed out of an abundance of caution to prevent community spread of COVID-19, many parks, grounds, forests, and trails are open during daylight hours, seven days a week. However, on a case-by-case basis, DEC and State Parks may close certain trails and areas to recreation if density pressures do not allow for appropriate social distancing.

New York is focused on getting people back to work and easing social isolation without triggering the further spread of COVID-19. Responsible, respectful, local recreation is a crucial part of continuing to help New Yorkers stay active, spend time with immediate household and family members, and reduce stress and anxiety.

What's local? New York is a large and geographically diverse state. Consistent with the NYForward phased reopening plan, DEC and State Parks are encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally in their region. Each of the state's 10 REDC regions have a wide variety of recreational opportunities available within them for the public to explore and enjoy. New Yorkers getting outdoors should use common sense in planning outdoor activities because public facilities like restrooms or other amenities may not be available. Use the DECinfo Locator to find the DEC-managed resource near you or visit https://parks.ny.gov/ for information about State Parks.

View a map of the 10 Regional Councils.(PDF)

Click on the specific guidance below for more information about how to #RecreateLocal, safely and responsibly:

Please note: State parks, lands, forests, and facilities are monitored by Park Police, Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and other staff. These parks, lands, forests, and facilities will incorporate physical distancing for visitors and staff to limit potential spread of COVID-19. In addition, these officers and staff respond to, and assist, local agencies with search and rescue missions, wildfire suppression, and more. Following this guidance (PDF) will prevent unnecessary burdens on, and dangers to, state resources and frontline emergency first responders during the ongoing COVID-19 response.

#AdventureAtHome: Looking for an at-home adventure? DEC is featuring special #AdventureAtHome content here, and on Facebook and Instagram, and new live specials, videos, and at-home tools and games for New Yorkers who are homebound or cannot go far for a nature break. Visit #Adventureathome.

Outdoor Activities for Kids: Families with children at home during this time are encouraged to visit DEC's caregivers webpage to find activities to help explore nature and fun outdoor activities under "Kids G.O (Get Outside)" and "Nature Activities," plus lesson plans on a variety of topics for different grade levels in "Educator Lesson Plans" and "Hudson River Lesson Plans." In addition, students can read about nature in "Conservationist for Kids".

For the safety of all visitors and to reduce the community spread of COVID-19, DEC and State Parks have taken these steps to reduce public density:

  • All playgrounds are closed until further notice;
  • All public programs and events at state parks, lands, forests and facilities are canceled until further notice;
  • All indoor visitor facilities, such as nature centers, environmental education centers, visitor centers, and historic houses are closed to the public until further notice;
  • Golf courses operated by State Parks are open. Operating schedules differ across the state. Call the course directly for current information;
  • DEC-controlled fire towers are closed to the public until further notice. Trails and the summits to the towers remain open, but the towers themselves present a potential risk with multiple people climbing the stairs, in close quarters, unable to appropriately socially distance, and using the same handrails;
  • Limiting parking. The number of available parking spaces may be reduced on high visitation days. Please avoid visiting crowded areas. For visitor safety and the safety of others, do not park on roadsides and only park in designated parking areas;
  • Camping & Pavilion/Shelters: all DEC campgrounds and pavilions are closed to overnight visitation through June 7. All visitors with reservations will be issued a full refund. We ask for your patience as refunds are processed. DEC has suspended all new camping and pavilion/shelter reservations for the 2020 season until further notice. For information about state park campgrounds, visit the NYS Parks website;
  • UPDATE FOR 2021 CAMPING: DEC has temporarily lifted the nine-month reservation window restriction for camping and will allow for transfers of existing camping reservations into the 2021 season. If you choose to transfer, the change fee will be waived until June 11 for online transactions only. In addition, you may also make new reservations for the 2021 season at this time. Please note that there is no guarantee that you will get the same camping site or dates for 2021 whether you transfer or make a new reservation. We encourage online reservations as the Call Center is experiencing longer than average wait times;
  • Temporarily suspend all overnight camping on this list of DEC state lands;
  • Temporarily stop issuing permits for backcountry camping for groups of 10 or more, and for more than 3 days at one location on state lands;
  • Temporarily restricting lean-to- use to members of a single household at a time;
  • Temporarily closing Kaaterskill Falls, the viewing platform, and connecting trails beginning Monday, April 6. The Kaaterskill Wild Forest will remain open to the public;
  • Temporarily closing Croton Gorge Unique Area beginning Friday, May 22;
  • Boat Launches and Marinas: Marinas and boat launch sites are open where conditions allow. Call the park or regional office directly for current status; and
  • Beaches and Swimming: State Park beaches will begin to open for swimming beginning May 22, at 50 percent capacity or less and with heightened precautions. Visitors must practice social distancing at a state beach. Pools will remain closed. Swimming beach hours vary by facility. Visit the NYS Parks website for a listing of State Park beaches. DEC's Lake George Beach/Million Dollar Beach will open for the Memorial Day holiday beginning Saturday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a maximum of 500 people allowed and parking capacity reduced to 150 vehicles. DEC is also temporarily restricting all access to the nearby strip of state land on the south shore of Lake George known as Dog Beach.

While enjoying outdoor spaces, please continue to follow the CDC/NYSDOH's guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you are sick, or showing or feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, coughing, and/or troubled breathing;
  • Practice social distancing. Keep at least six (6) feet of distance between you and others even when outdoors;
  • Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distancing;
  • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, and high-fives;
  • Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available; and
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.

DEC and State Parks also encourage visitors to state parks and state lands, and other parks to:

  • Use common sense when visiting the outdoors. Stay local within your region because some amenities like public restrooms and restaurants may not be open.
  • Visit in small groups limited to family members and members of your own household. Maintain a distance from others while in places where people tend to congregate, such as parking lots, trailheads, and scenic overlooks.
  • Know before you go. Plan ahead and make a list of alternate destinations. Beaches and trailheads will be busy. Many state beaches and parks will quickly reach capacity limits on nice weather days. Check parks.ny.gov, and 511.org for park capacity closure alerts.
  • Choose a time to visit when beaches, trails, and parks are likely to be less crowded, such as a weekday or earlier in the day.
  • Park responsibly in designated areas only.
  • Avoid games and activities that require close contact, such as basketball, football, or soccer.
  • Do not share equipment, such as bicycles, helmets, binoculars, balls, or Frisbees.
  • If parking lots are full, please do not park along roadsides or other undesignated areas. To protect your safety and that of others, please choose a different area to visit, or return another time or day when parking is available.
  • Practice 'Leave No Trace.' Respect parks and state lands and take out whatever you bring in, including disposable gloves, wipes, masks, and toilet paper.
  • Stay home if you're sick or if part of a vulnerable population.
  • Be patient. Accept that this summer, you may have to adjust how you enjoy the outdoors to help keep yourself and others healthy and safe, even if it means changing your plans to visit a public space.

New Yorkers over 70 years old or with a compromised immune system should not visit public spaces, including those outdoors. These New Yorkers should remain indoors or spend time in the backyard or other personal outdoor space, pre-screen visitors by taking their temperature, and require visitors to wear masks.

Visitors to the Adirondack and Catskill Parks are reminded to always follow the Hiker Responsibility Code and avoid busy trailheads. Find trails less traveled and visit when trails may not be as busy during daylight hours. DEC also encourages New Yorkers to be safe and sustainable when recreating outdoors. Learn more about how you can protect natural spaces when exploring outdoors by following the seven principles of Leave no Trace. Additional information is available on the DEC website.


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