While Governor Tony Evers is allowing some state parks to open back up on Friday, May 1, there a few in the area that remain closed.
More than 40 state properties were closed a few weeks ago because some state parks and forests were seeing a record number of visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, the DNR will re-open 34 state parks and forests under special conditions to help minimize over-crowding, allow for social distancing requirements and to promote a safe and enjoyable experience for all staff and visitors.
“Outdoor recreation is important for both physical and mental health, and I know how important it is to Wisconsinites to get outside and enjoy Wisconsin’s natural resources and spring weather,” Evers said in a news release. “With a few adjustments, like closing one day a week for maintenance and reduced hours of operation, folks should be able to get outside and enjoy our parks safely and respectfully.”
Only four state properties remain closed due to the health and safety of the public, and all are near to the Lodi and Poynette areas. The properties currently closed are Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area, Pewits Nest State Natural Area, Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area and Dells of the Wisconsin River State Natural Area.
Of those that are open, temporary changes are that state parks and forests will be closing four hours earlier each day. The hours of operations for all open parks is 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, all of those properties will be closed on Wednesday for maintenance, cleaning and general upkeep.
Hunting and fishing will be allowed on all open properties in accordance with legal season structure and hours. Access to some areas may be limited to walk-in or water access only.
Area state parks that are open with the current restrictions are MacKenzie Center, Rocky Arbor State Park, Dell State Natural Area, Mirror Lake State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Cross Plains State Park, Capital Springs State Rec Area and Sauk Prairie State Rec Area.
The DNR is also putting capacity limitations on several state parks, asking patrons to stay away or to either visit from 6-10 a.m. or from 4-7 p.m., avoiding peak times at popular destinations. Visitors may be denied entry until existing visitors leave.
The only area state parks with those limitations are Governor Nelson and Devil’s Lake.
All state trails — including ATV trails — have remained open during the “Safer at Home” order and will continue to stay open.
For a full state map showing the openings and closures of all state parks and forest areas, visit www.dnr.wi.gov.
In addition, annual passes will not be available at individual properties. You may purchase a 2020 annual pass by calling 1-800-305-0398 any day of the week from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. A valid sticker is required for admission, which began May 1.All DNR boat launches are open at open state properties. All anglers and recreational boaters should practice social distancing and keep travel to a minimum.
Restrooms at all state properties will be closed. This includes the closure of restrooms on properties currently open to the public. All other facilities will remain closed, including towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations and concession buildings. Attractions where social distancing cannot be achieved will be closed as needed at various properties.
Camping, group camps and shelters will remain closed until May 26. Refunds will be issued to all customers.
Volunteer activities remain suspended at DNR properties and all events and special event permits are canceled until at least May 26.