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Oregon Is the Latest State to Close Their State Parks. Stay Home, Friends.

It sucks. But we've got this.

By: Sara Sheehy + Save to a List

Adventurers, the time has come. I think we all suspected it might happen, but now that is has, it hurts.

The state of Oregon announced yesterday that they are closing their state parks — all 256 of them — to overnight and day-use until at least May 8, 2020.

Photo by Sierra Joy

They aren't alone. As of this writing, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Mexico have shuttered their state parks. California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin have kept their parks open but closed all their campgrounds and other overnight lodging options (for a full list of campground closures, check out this list on Campendium).

'Why is this happening?' you may ask. 'It's easy to keep physical distance from others when you're outside.' And while you're not wrong, the honest answer is, at least in part, that people simply aren't doing it.

Photo by Josiah Roe

Over the weekend, so many Bay Area residents descended on Point Reyes National Seashore and other locations in Marin County that the county closed all parks. In the press release, Marin County explains, "The order comes one day after Bay Area residents flocked to Marin locations for recreation, putting vulnerable residents at risk because of unsafe social distancing and traffic that clogged the roads in beach communities. ...Grocery store workers and restaurant personnel were inundated with visitors who were not respecting public health guidelines on keeping six feet away from other people."

Photo by Scott Kranz

In Washington, a crush of people visiting trailheads, parks, and beach towns this weekend led Governor Jay Inslee to release the statement: "Gathering on beaches, parks and hiking trails are deeply irresponsible. This reckless behavior is dangerous and needs to stop. The people doing this are endangering themselves, their families and communities. It needs to stop."

Photo by Ross Perkins

It's a little like that time when you were a kid, and your recess was cut in half because one or two of your classmates couldn't keep themselves out of trouble. Here at The Outbound, we know you are a respectful recreationalist — one who understands the risks and responsibilities that come with being a good citizen of the outdoors.

We also know that you probably feel these closures more deeply than others, because adventure is a part of your DNA. We get it. And we're right there with you (did we spend the weekend wistfully dreaming of all the adventures we'll take once this is all done? Heck yes, we did).

Photo by Sam Barkwell

But for now, we all need to adjust. The sooner we take this seriously, the sooner we can get back to mountain summits, whitewater paddles, and beachside wanders. 

In the meantime, stay close to home. Go outside (if your local regulations allow it) but minimize your touchpoints when you're out. Give other people a wide berth (at least six feet), recreate only with people in your household, and don't take any risks that could potentially burden the local first responders.

It stinks. There's really no way around that. It's a tough and complicated time. But, as adventurers, we know you've done hard things before. And you can do this now. We've got this.

Cover photo by Rachel Davidson

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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