North Carolina State Parks announced this week that on Saturday most trails and restrooms will reopen at all state parks that have been closed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The parks are opening during the first phase of Gov. Roy Cooper’s three-phased plan to lift restrictions under the current stay-at-home order, according to the State Parks website.
Visitor centers, exhibits, meeting rooms, community buildings, picnic shelters, and retail areas will remain closed so staff can focus on keeping restrooms clean and implementing social distancing on trails and other open areas. Campgrounds are expected to open May 22 but group camps will not open until at least June 30. No facility rentals will be available, including picnic shelters.
Parking will be limited to available spaces to keep parks under capacity. Overflow parking will not be allowed. Several parks will further limit parking capacity to allow for social distancing.
The parks have been closed the last several weeks due to the state of emergency in most counties and the governor’s stay-at-home order.
The following coastal state parks will open Saturday:
- Carolina Beach State Park will open trails, restrooms, boat ramp, marina and picnic area.
- Dismal Swamp State Park will have trails and restrooms at the welcome center open.
- Fort Fisher State Recreation Area will open the four-wheel drive beach to annual pass holders only, the basin trail and the restroom.
- Fort Macon State Park will open the beach, trails and restrooms.
- Goose Creek State Park trails and restrooms will be open.
- Hammocks Beach State Park trails, restrooms, will be open. Boat ramp open to annual pass holders and cash payments only may use the boat ramp. Bear Island will be open to private boat access.
- Jockey’s Ridge State Park trails and restrooms will be open as well as the swim beach at Roanoke Sound.
- Pettigrew State Park trails, restrooms and boat ramp will open.
Each state park has its own webpage that will be updated with the latest information. More information about other state parks can be found on the North Carolina State Parks website.
Officials remind visitors to do the following while visiting state parks:
- Maintain a social distance of 6 feet, regardless of the behavior of others.
- Step to the side of a trail, wait at the end of a bridge, and do not enter the restrooms until others have cleared out.
- Touch as few surfaces as possible. Wash or sanitize your hands before, during, and after your visit.
- Do not share equipment like phones or cameras with other visitors.
- Go home and come back another time if the park seems crowded when you arrive.