Beacon Rock in Skamania County is on the list of 29 Washington state parks that will not reopen for day-use this week.
On Monday, April 27, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced he was lifting restrictions on most fishing and hunting seasons, allowing limited golfing and partially reopening several outdoor recreation sites, including state parks, state public lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife areas.
Inslee issued a “stay at home” order in March to help stem the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and soon announced the closure of state parks and other outdoor recreation areas.
“When I rolled out, ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ over a month ago, difficult decisions were made to close state parks and public lands, golf facilities, and delaying hunting and fishing seasons. This was necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, reduce travel and ultimately, save lives,” Inslee said at his April 27 press conference.
“Outdoor recreation is one of the best things we can do to promote physical, mental and emotional well-being for Washingtonians during a time of great stress and isolation,” he added.
Yesterday, the state released a list of state parks that will and will not reopen to day-use activities this week.
There are 29 state parks that will remain closed to the public, including several in the Columbia River Gorge (Beacon Rock near Stevenson, Spring Creek Hatchery in Underwood, Doug’s Beach in Lyle and Maryhill near Goldendale) and along the coast.
Several regional state parks are on the list of those that will partially reopen to day use on Tuesday, including Battle Ground Lake, Reed Island and Paradise Point.
The governor said the reopenings do have a few caveats.
“Recreate locally to the extent possible,” Inslee said. “Do not make overnight trips to recreate … avoid crowds … use face coverings.”
The governor stressed that camping, team sports and public gatherings are not resuming on May 5.
Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) lands set to open this week include Dougan Falls, located about 16 miles up the Washougal River Road and Cold Creek, a day-use and campground area located 16 miles north of Camas, which provides access to the 9-mile Bells Mountain Trail in the Yacolt Burn State Forest.
According to the DNR’s website, “access to public lands will reopen on May 5 for day-use only. Camping remains closed until further notice.”
Skamania County officials closed access to trails in the Columbia River Gorge in early April to help stem the spread of COVID-19 and warned that, while the county is “a great place to live and recreate,” an influx of visitors hoping to hike in the Gorge during “stay at home” orders would “create an undue burden on efforts to maintain social distancing and strains (local) supply channels, public safety resources, and health care system.”
For a full list of state parks set to reopen on Tuesday for day-use activities, visit parks.state.wa.us/1181/Parks-opening