Getting out and enjoying the great outdoors has become even more important for the many Americans who have been cooped up inside during the spring and summer months due to COVID-19. But finding a campsite or open reservation, even for 3 weeks down the road, has become quite a challenge.
Spontaneous campers often have to travel from park to park in search of an open site, sometimes late into the night. Add coronavirus into the mix and getting into a campground or even using the park restroom can become a real chore!
Here are a few tips to follow when camping in a COVID world:
Tip #1: Be courteous to fellow campers and rangers
If you can get a camping spot, then enjoying the outdoors is a great way to social distance. Being outside allows folks to breathe the fresh air and escape that cooped-up feeling, but campers must still abide by new rules at parks, such as masks in public bathrooms or outhouses (the mask is actually helpful in reducing the odor in camp bathrooms!) or when engaging with a park ranger.
But many outdoor activities such as hikes, beach time and bike rides don’t require wearing a mask (unless you feel so inclined). Plus, being out in nature can help take the stress of life off your mind!
Disclaimer: You should avoid traveling if you feel ill or have recently tested positive for COVID-19.
While some of the restrictions and mask requirements may be a hassle at first, it’s all worth it to be in the great outdoors. But please be mindful of your fellow campers and keep a safe distance away from them, their rig and their pets. And be respectful of the campground rules. You certainly don’t want to get kicked out or asked to leave after struggling to find a site.
Tip #2: Double-check the campground’s status
It’s a good idea to call ahead or search for changes in hours of operation because many parks are short-staffed and have scaled back on their hours. If further lockdowns are ordered, it’s possible some campgrounds may be labeled “essential” by local governments, so camping may still be possible if that happens.
Pro tip: TheDyrt.com has a great resource to track which campgrounds are open and closed in your state, and how to contact parks by state.
Tip #3: Review the campground’s guidelines
Once you’ve booked a site, you might receive a message like this from a friendly park or campground official:
Because you have an upcoming reservation in a Michigan state park or recreation area, we want to update you on new operational procedures and protocols we’ve implemented to ensure the health and safety of visitors, volunteers and staff. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Masks are required. Executive Order 2020-147 requires everyone to wear a face covering when in indoor public spaces, including restrooms/shower buildings, contact stations and visitor centers. It also requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces when proper social distancing – at least 6 feet when around people who are not part of your household – cannot be maintained. Violators are subject to a $500 penalty.
- Stay at least 6 feet from people who aren’t from your household in all locations, including enclosed spaces, campgrounds and day-use areas.
- Staff will clean restrooms/shower buildings several times a day. At least once per day, these buildings will be cleaned and sanitized in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
- Overnight lodging facilities, including cabins, lodges and yurts, will be cleaned and sanitized according to CDC guidelines after each reservation holder checks out.
- If possible, please pay by debit or credit card to decrease the exchange of money and face-to-face contact.
- We encourage you to bring your own gloves and disinfectant and whatever else you deem necessary to protect yourself while in campgrounds and parks.
- Please bring your own hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
- Hard surfaces, such as playground equipment, handrails and picnic tables, will not be sanitized between each use. You may use your own sanitation wipes.
Be sure to read these guidelines closely and follow their instructions as best as possible.
Tip #4: Relax and enjoy your stay!
We realize there’s a lot to digest, but it’s important that you have all the information you need to have a safe and enjoyable stay. Although you may encounter slightly longer lines, yet-to-be-completed spring maintenance work and some new facility rules, don’t forget to relax and enjoy your trip.