We’re Reopening State Lands: Here’s What You Should Know

For the latest information on the reopening of public lands, see our most recent post on reopening camping.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reopening state-managed public lands on May 5th, 2020. After following Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and being cooped up for a month, we are all eager to get back onto the trails. While this is exciting news, it’s important to know what to expect and how to keep everyone safe as lands open back up.

Beginning on May 5th, state parks, wildlife areas, and DNR recreation sites will reopen for day-use only. This is with the expectation that visitors follow appropriate physical distancing standards. Since DNR manages over 160 recreation sites across 3.3 million acres of state trust lands, it may take several days for staff to access all sites and unlock gates.

State-managed boat launches, marinas, and recreational fishing in Puget Sound and Columbia River will also reopen for day-use services only. All overnight accommodations, including all camping, will remain closed until further notice.

During this slow process back into normalcy, some recreation locations may have limited restroom services. It’s best to be self-sufficient by bringing your own supply of water, soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and masks with you. Don’t forget to pack your Discover Pass either!

A Discover Pass is always required to park your vehicle at recreation lands, State Parks, and water-access sites managed by DNR and The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Washington State Parks has named the 100 parks that will reopen and the few that will stay closed come May 5th.

We are asking people to continue to adhere to safety precautions and practice physical distancing as lands begin to reopen. If we notice issues of crowding, location-based closures may happen. There may also be closures for health-related issues so it best to check our website before headed out on your adventure.

Governor Inslee stated in the April 27th press conference that “if we see a sharp uptake in the number of people who are getting sick or are not following appropriate steps, then we won’t hesitate to scale this back again.”

As reopening approaches, we should all consider the steps we need to take to protect ourselves and those around us. If the outdoors is calling to you, be sure to be a responsible recreationist. To do this we ask that you plan ahead, come prepared, and practice good hygiene. For more details on responsible recreation, download our #RecreateResponsibly Tip Sheet.

“Because of our shared sacrifice and the heroic work of our first responders, doctors, and nurses, we are able to reopen public lands. Reconnecting people with nature is the first step of a long journey back to normalcy.” – Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz

We look forward to welcoming all our recreationalists back to our lands. With your help and responsible actions we can keep our recreation sites open for years to come.

Additional Resources:

  • You can find the latest information about DNR recreation openings here.
  • Have questions about fishing and hunting? Check WDFW’s information here.
  • Have more questions? Download our frequently asked questions.
  • Get the latest information on how the coronavirus is affecting Washington State by visiting the Washington State Coronavirus Response (COVID-19) page.