Responsible Recreation Across Arizona
Want to help shape outdoor recreation in Arizona during the next 5 years? Here's your chance! Arizona State Parks and Trails is taking public input now for its Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), and it's easy to get involved. Learning what Arizona residents want helps identify priorities and distribute grant funding to get projects done and make outdoor recreation in Arizona even better.
PUBLIC LANDS ARE OPEN!
In Arizona, exploring the outdoors is an ingrained part of our culture. Thousands of residents and visitors responsibly enjoy our amazing parks, trails, forests, refuges, wildlife areas, historic sites, wilderness areas, rivers, lakes and reservoirs every year.
Arizona’s public lands and recreation areas are open. The agencies that manage Arizona’s outdoor recreation areas encourage Arizonans to continue enjoying all the spectacular landscapes our state offers, while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Whether it’s your first time or you regularly enjoy Arizona’s amazing outdoor spaces, be sure to check the status of the area you plan to visit before heading out. The individual sections below provide important reopening details for Arizona recreation areas and information on current conditions.
Remember, responsible recreation requires participation by everyone. Always be respectful of the wildlife and vegetation on public lands and be sure to check the rules for recreation ahead of time for the specific area you're planning to visit.
Visitors should continue following COVID-19 guidelines. If you are feeling even mildly sick, you should remain at home until you feel better. If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, such as shortness of breath, a fever or a cough, call your doctor. And most of all, remember that following COVID-19 guidelines allows continued access to Arizona's outdoor areas for all!
NEW TO HIKING?
More than 200 hikers are rescued annually from Phoenix desert and mountain parks. With so many Arizonans taking to outdoor activities for the first time, this simple checklist can help keep new hikers from getting into a bad situation and requiring emergency assistance.
- Bring more water than you think you need. Turn around before half of your water is gone.
- Watch the weather. Arizona’s high temperatures can be deadly. Hike when it’s cooler outside.
- Dress appropriately. Sturdy shoes, shielding clothing, hats and sunscreen.
- Pack it in, Pack it out. Don’t leave waste behind.
- Know your abilities. Don’t push yourself too hard.
- Stay on designated trails.
- Don’t feed wildlife.
- Take responsibility. Be informed. Plan ahead.
RESPONSIBLE RECREATION TOP 10
With so many Arizonans turning to the outdoors as a great escape, it’s critical to approach these activities with a protective mindset. Here are the Top 10 common-sense guidelines that visitors should apply during all outdoor recreation activities. These are designed to help keep you, your family and other visitors as safe as possible.
- Practice physical distancing outdoors by staying at least 6 feet apart.
- Avoid crowded locations where physical distancing may be difficult.
- Do not gather in large groups.
- Limit group activities to members of your household.
- Plan ahead, as services and facilities will be limited.
- Pack out trash.
- Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
- Be respectful of public lands.
- Stay home if you're sick.
- Do your part!
READY TO VISIT?
Fortunately, many public lands are open for dispersed recreation activities like hiking, biking and stargazing. Outdoor recreation is a great way to stay active and follow public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Follow these simple tips from the USDA Forest Service to plan a fun and safe outing to Arizona’s public lands.
Before You Visit:
- Call ahead. Agencies have websites and social media that offer information on local conditions, but visitors are encouraged to call ahead with any additional questions.
- Select an appropriate activity. Hiking, biking, stargazing and dispersed camping are fantastic options. Avoid high-risk activities like rock climbing or backcountry activities, as law enforcement and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID 19 issues.
- Select low-traffic locations and times. Discover a new area. Visit less-traveled locations during non-peak hours to avoid crowding.
- Stay home if you feel sick. Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing before and during your visit.
- Bring necessary supplies. Services like trash pickup and restroom maintenance are likely limited or not available at many locations. Bring the supplies you might need such as trash bags and hand sanitizer.
During Your Visit:
- Evaluate your surroundings. When you arrive at the recreation area, evaluate your surroundings. A full parking lot or crowded trailhead might indicate that there are too many people recreating. For your safety and the safety of other visitors, please consider changing locations or returning at a less active time.
- Keep your distance from others. Everyone wants to safely enjoy public lands. Please make sure to stay at least six feet away from other visitors as recommended by the CDC.
After Your Visit:
- Pack it in, pack it out. Take trash with you when you leave. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes litter and can be harmful to wildlife and attract predators.
The above information is a general overview of the best practices for a successful visit to an outdoor recreation area in Arizona. But in addition to the above information, it’s always best to check the guidelines of the specific area you’re planning on visiting. See below for specific information.
Prior to making a visit, visitors should check with their specific parks departments or other lands agencies for the most recent information and guidelines.
USDA Forest Service:
The vast majority of National Forests acres remain open for dispersed camping, hiking, nature watching and other activities. Specific site closures are managed at each forest, and visitors should review Alerts and Notices for each forest or recreation site prior to visiting. The Southwestern Region continues to implement a local strategy for opening of developed recreation sites based on risk assessments, available cleaning supplies and staffing available for site maintenance. Preparation and planning are key to reducing waste and minimizing natural resource damage. In addition to the Before, During and After tips above, please check the Interactive Visitor Map to find a recreation area near you.
National Park Service:
The health and safety of visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners are the number one priority of the National Park Service. Masks are required for everyone, regardless of location or vaccination status, in all NPS buildings, crowded outdoor spaces, and all forms of enclosed public transportation. NPS encourages you to follow CDC guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and follow Leave No Trace principles when you visit. Please check the AZ NPS Sites Status below to see what is accessible.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:
Outdoor recreation sites at National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries are generally open to the public. Masks are required inside all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service buildings, regardless of vaccination status or location. For local conditions at a specific Refuge or Hatchery, please visit their website and call ahead.
Arizona Office of Tourism:
The Arizona Office of Tourism's Appreciate AZ Program promotes sustainable tourism practices across Arizona’s spectacular landscapes and unique destinations. AOT has partnered with Arizona State Parks and Trails, Arizona State Land Department, the Arizona Game & Fish Department and the Arizona Department of Transportation to promote these responsible tourism and recreation messages across Arizona. This program connects with Arizonans and visitors by combining artistic renditions of real Arizona landscapes with the 7 Principles of Appreciate AZ.
Bureau of Land Management - Arizona:
BLM Arizona public rooms are open for in-person visits, up to 25% capacity. Business can also be conducted by phone or email. All federal employees, onsite contractors, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask inside federal buildings. BLM-managed lands in Arizona are open, including campgrounds, day-use areas, and trails. Existing rules and regulations apply. Fees for overnight camping, cabin rentals, group day use, and use of special areas remain in effect. BLM lands remain available for dispersed camping and other outdoor recreation activities unless otherwise prohibited.
Arizona Game and Fish Department:
AZGFD is committed to staying connected with its customers and continuing to provide exceptional service. Currently, customer service representatives are available to assist customers between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Arizona's outdoors are open to hunting and fishing and as always, hunters and anglers must be in possession of a valid Arizona hunting, fishing or combo license. Visitors must make a reservation for the Ben Avery Shooting Facility (BASF). A reservation is not needed for the archery range.
Arizona State Parks & Trails:
Arizona State Parks and Trails, including open spaces, hiking trails, campgrounds, and outdoor destinations, are open. Precautions recommended by AZDHS and the CDC are being followed to provide a safe experience for all visitors. Visitors are asked to follow guidelines, including visiting less crowded parks and trails, using hand sanitizer and packing out all trash.
Arizona State Land Department:
The Land Department remains open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to serve the Arizona public, Trust customers and stakeholder businesses. The agency is committed to protecting the health of both the public and employees while continuing to provide services to customers. To comply with physical distancing recommendations, a max of 10 people at any one time (staff + public) are allowed into the public records area at 1616 West Adams Street in Phoenix. Others can still speak with ASLD staff through the service window while maintaining social distance. The public is encouraged to call 602-542-4631 to set an appointment for an in-person visit to the ASLD public records area.
Tribal lands and tourism-related businesses in Arizona have adjusted their hours in response to COVID-19. Travelers are strongly encouraged to contact tribal businesses prior to visiting to ensure reopening status, hours of operation, and any specific guidelines to follow.
The Navajo Nation has implemented a color-coded reopening framework to guide residents and visitors on appropriate behavior at any given time. AS of November 2021, the Nation is under "Orange" status, which allows 50% of maximum occupancy for most businesses, including restaurants, Navajo casinos, lodging and hotels including campgrounds and RV parks, museums, zoos, marinas and parks.