by Rachel Felver
March 18, 2020
Note: Please check online or call the park you wish to visit before heading out to make sure they are still open and/or operating.
This blog was was updated on March 30, 2020.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean staying cooped up indoors—nature offers plenty of opportunities for solitude. There is scientific evidence that being outside in nature helps soothe your troubled mind, heals your body and boosts your immune system. Fortunately, the seven Chesapeake Bay watershed jurisdictions—Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia—continue to offer opportunities for residents to get outside safely during these uncertain times.
Updated March 30: While park offices, nature centers and museums remain closed, state parks in Delaware are currently open and not charging entrance fees through April 30, 2020. However, state park campsites, cabins, cottages, yurts and playgrounds are closed, and all campground, picnic and pavilion reservations have been cancelled through May 15, along with all park programs, tours and special events. Delaware beaches remain closed until May 15 and accessing any beaches through a state park is prohibited. This includes Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks.
March 18: State parks in Delaware are currently open and not charging entrance fees through April 30, 2020. While park offices and nature centers are closed, state park campgrounds, cabins, cottages and bathhouses are still open. Programs, tours, events and trainings have been canceled or rescheduled.
District of Columbia
Updated March 30: Recreation centers, playgrounds, gated parks, athletic fields and aquatic centers throughout the District of Columbia are closed through April 27. Dog parks, skate parks, trails and open green spaces remain accessible. Any programs, events or existing permits are cancelled through April 27.
March 18: Outdoor parks, recreational fields, dog parks and playgrounds throughout Washington, D.C. remain open. Programs, services, events, trainings, activities and permits have been cancelled, and indoor pools are closed, through March 31, 2020.
Updated March 30: Maryland state parks remain open, except for Assateague, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad, Newtowne Neck, Sandy Point and Swallow Falls. All reservations through May 11 have been cancelled and refunds will be issued. Public areas where people may congregate have been closed, including visitor centers, busy trails, administrative buildings, concessions, some viewing areas, most fishing piers, shelters, playgrounds and nature/interpretative centers. Parking will be reduced in some parks to control crowds. All state park beaches are closed. You can also check out Maryland county parks, many of which remain open. In Baltimore, dog parks remain open, but are limited to five people at a time.
March 18: State park facilities and buildings are currently closed, and all programs, events and activities have been canceled. Each Maryland state park will make their own decision on whether or not to stay open at this time. Please make sure to check each park’s individual website to check on its status. You can also check out Maryland county parks, many of which remain open.
Updated March 30: All playgrounds, athletic courts and sport fields are closed in New York, although state parks remain open with fees waived. To encourage physical distancing at popular parks, trailheads and scenic areas, state parks may reduce the number of available parking spaces. Campgrounds, cabins and cottages are closed through April 30 and those with reservations will be issued a refund. Campgrounds will be assessed daily beginning on May 1 as to whether they can safely be opened to guests. State parks are currently not accepting any new reservations for the remainder of 2020. Visitor centers, nature centers and historic homes are closed, but some restrooms may remain open. Public programming and events are cancelled until further notice.
March 18: All year-round state parks, trails and the grounds of historic sites in New York are currently open and entrance fees have been waived. All public programs, nature centers, visitor centers and historic homes are closed.
Updated March 30: Facilities at Pennsylvania state parks and forests are closed through April 30. This includes park and forest offices, visitor centers, restrooms, cabins, campgrounds and other forms of overnight accommodations. The public can still access trails, lakes, roads and parking. All public programs, events and trainings are canceled at this time. For those with facility reservations, a full refund will be issued. Keep up-to-date on the status of Pennsylvania’s local parks and national park sites.
March 18: Facilities at Pennsylvania state parks and forests are closed through March 31, 2020. This includes park and forest offices, visitor centers, restrooms, cabins, campgrounds and other forms of overnight accommodations. The public can still access trails, lakes, roads and parking. All public programs, events and trainings are canceled at this time. For those with facility reservations, a full refund will be issued. You can also look for a local Pennsylvania park to visit here.
Updated March 30: Access to Virginia state parks remains open, however, all overnight facilities (cabins, campgrounds, camping cabins and yurts), restrooms and bathhouses are now closed through April 30. Reservations during this time will be cancelled and automatically refunded. Visitor centers and other indoor facilities (e.g. restrooms), picnic shelters, playgrounds and amphitheaters remain closed, and in-person programming and events are cancelled through April 30. There is currently no shuttle bus service available.
March 18: All state parks in Virginia are currently open, including campgrounds and cabins. Visitor centers will be closed through March 31, 2020. At this time of year, many park entrances are not staffed, and do not require a fee to park. However, self-pay is still available and recommended. All park programs, events and shuttle bus services are canceled through April 13, 2020.
Updated March 30: All state parks and forests in West Virginia remain open at this time, but park lodges, cabins, restrooms, lodge services, park restaurants (including curbside and carry-out options), nature centers and museums are closed. Campground reservations are suspended until April 16. All special events are cancelled through April 19 or have been postponed.
March 18: All state parks and forests in West Virginia remain fully operational at this time.
There are currently 54 national parks, monuments, memorials, paths, parkways and historic sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The National Park Service is making decisions on a park-by-park basis as to whether or not they remain open. Residents of the Chesapeake Bay watershed can check out Find Your Chesapeake for information about NPS sites in the region, as well as fun virtual activities you can do from home.
Many county, community and other local parks throughout the watershed remain open, while indoor facilities are closed. Please check online before heading out to make sure the park you wish to visit is open.
While we encourage everyone to take advantage of the natural wonders of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, please only do so if you are healthy and make sure to practice responsible behavior.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Avoid groups of more than 10 people.
- Maintain no less than six feet distance between yourself and others.