What Parks Are Open on Memorial Day? Everything You Need to Know

As Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer across the United States, Americans try to embrace the warmer weather by getting outside, barbecuing and going to their local parks. While the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect people worldwide, social distancing restrictions and guidelines may interfere with plans to go to the park during the long weekend.

Several months into this health crisis, some U.S. politicians have begun to reopen businesses and ease restrictions on public places like parks. But people should still keep a few things in mind before they relax on a park bench or gather in a crowded open space.

While many parks are open for day-use like walking, running and hiking, for those looking to camp or use facilities over the holiday weekend, it's best to check with your state and local parks to make sure that parks are open and see what facilities are available.

Although adjustments to park services have been made, many parks have not closed during the pandemic. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation issued common sense guidelines on March 28. "New Yorkers are turning to our parks for exercise, stress relief, and a healthy nature break in these difficult times. To keep these places safe and healthy for everyone, we need to adjust the ways we enjoy our parks. Keep visits short and local, avoid crowds, and practice physical social distancing," State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said in a press release.

Guidelines put in place by the New York DEC and Office of Parks include closing playgrounds, indoor facilities like nature centers (although some restrooms will be open in certain parks), and sports fields and courts. Precautions also include canceling public events, limiting access to athletic courts, reducing parking, and in New York City, limiting the number of people going to some parks, according to Eyewitness News. Some public golf courses are also open, and the New York State Golf Association issued guidelines such as maintaining social distance, avoiding gathering at the first tee or driving range, marking your ball, and more.

Other states have taken similar precautions. In California, some state parks and beaches remain closed to the public. Like New York, California has also closed indoor facilities at its state parks and closed camp grounds until further notice. Also, there is no parking at most public parks. For parks that are open, there are social distancing guidelines in place, and visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to keep distance.

Other states have followed similar guidelines as restrictions lessen. Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts and New Jersey have kept many facilities closed or restricted, even though parks are open.

Some states follow most of the same guidelines but have some differences in restrictions. Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has similar restrictions and guidelines to New York, but outdoor events with less than 25 people will be allowed to go on, according to their website. While some states are not allowing camping for the time being, campgrounds and cabins are open in states such as Arizona, Virginia and Georgia. Virginia will also begin allowing boat and bike rentals at some parks beginning Memorial Day weekend.

Other states, like Arkansas, have begun reopening some indoor facilities at parks such as lodge restaurants, golf shops, museums and visitor centers with limited occupancy. State parks in Tennessee and Missouri also have lodging and some restaurants open with service, varying by location.

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Visitors wear face masks on a walking path in Joshua Tree National Park one day after the park reopened after being closed for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic on May 18, 2020 in Joshua Tree National Park, California Mario Tama/Getty