RESPONSIBLE RECREATION ACROSS ARIZONA
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.
As the agencies that manage Arizona’s outdoor recreation areas, we encourage Arizonans to continue enjoying all the spectacular landscapes our state offers, while adhering to the COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We remain committed to keeping all public lands open and as accessible as possible while protecting staff and visitors.
Before heading out, be sure to check the status of the area you plan to visit. The individual sections below provide details about the impacts on 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. 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 us to keep our outdoor areas accessible to all!
GRAND CANYON LIMITED ACCESS FOR MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
Portions of the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park will be open Memorial Day (May 22-25) for limited entry and recreational access. The South Entrance Station will be open from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. Visitors who have entered the park before 10 am can remain for day use access until sunset. Entrances fees should be paid at automated fee machines or by purchasing a pass in advance from nearby third-party vendors or through Recreation.gov. Additional important access details below.
FOREST SERVICE OPENS SELECT RECREATION SITES
The USDA National Forest Service started reopening select recreation sites in Arizona on May 15. Each reopened site has been evaluated per federal, state and local guidelines and deemed safe for public use. While visiting, guests should continue to adhere to strong safety standards and physical distancing guidelines. Visitors are strongly urged to contact their local district ranger office or check Forest Service websites for information on specific recreation sites prior to traveling or making plans.
As the 2020 wildfire season approaches, it is critical to assure that Arizona residents and visitors are doing everything we can to prevent fires. As wildfire response agencies including the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Arizona State Forestry, USDA Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management, our top job is to protect public health and safety. We work closely together year-round in planning, training, fuel reduction work, fire prevention and education and wildland fire response. Our mission is to provide timely, accurate fire and restriction information for the entire state. Here’s our simple guidance:
- Avoid high-risk activities. Help keep fire, law enforcement and search & rescue operations available for those who need them most.
- Do your part. Don’t let a wildfire start. The public plays a valuable role in preventing wildfires. On average, human-caused wildfires make up more than half of all wildfire occurrences in Arizona annually. Always keep outdoor fire safety in mind. Many of our wildfires start from vehicle and equipment use as well as campfires, or debris burning on private property.
- Know before you go. Be fire safe and check for fire restrictions. As the weather becomes warmer and dryer, the potential for wildfires increases. See below for fire prevention and restriction information.
As triple-digit temperatures become the norm, City of Phoenix park rangers advise hiking during the early morning or evening hours when it is cooler and there is more shade and always bring more water than you think you’ll need. Everyone considering outdoor recreation should monitor local forecasts and understand that all trail difficulty ratings are raised one level when the temperature is 100 degrees or warmer. Always follow "Take a Hike. Do it Right." safety guidelines.
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!
If you’re thinking about taking a trip to hike a trail, go fishing or otherwise enjoy Arizona’s spectacular landscapes, but you’re unsure whether your planned excursion is responsible during these times, here are a few quick questions to help you determine whether you should go. If you answer “yes” to any one of these, you should reconsider.
- Will I come into contact with surfaces that can hold and transfer the virus?
- Does this activity put me at risk for potential rescue, straining local resources?
- Might I come within six feet of people who are not a part of my household?
- Does my recreation bring me in closer contact with vulnerable people or communities?
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 U.S. 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 recommend 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.
In general, open spaces, passive play spaces, trails, and walking paths in city parks are open, but with the critical caveat that physical distancing must be maintained all times. Official events have been canceled or postponed, as most ramadas and similar gathering areas are closed. Most amenities such as basketball courts, splash pads, playgrounds and similar amenities, including volleyball, tennis and pickleball courts are also closed. Access to park restrooms is limited and varies by location. 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:
Public lands can help individuals and communities stay healthy and resilient during this time, which is why many areas are open for dispersed recreation activities such as hiking, biking, stargazing and dispersed camping. 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. Where it is possible to adhere to federal, state and local public health guidance, outdoor spaces will remain accessible to the public and entrance-fee free. Visitor services such as visitor centers are generally closed. Park rangers remain on duty protecting the parks, and normal rules and regulations continue to apply. Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local public health authorities, we are increasing access and services in a phased approach across all units of the National Park System. Currently, NPS sites remain fee-free.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:
During the current public health emergency, whenever possible, outdoor recreation sites at National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries will remain open to the public. Visitor Centers and other facilities, however, may be closed and scheduled events may be canceled. For local conditions at a specific Refuge or Hatchery, please visit their website and call ahead.
Bureau of Land Management - Arizona:
BLM-managed lands in Arizona are open, including campgrounds, day-use areas, and trails. While entrance and day-use fees have been waived. Other fees are still in effect. Existing rules and regulations apply. 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. As updates related to the COVID-19 situation become available, AZGFD will share any new developments or changes to processes. Currently, front counter service is available by appointment only. 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. All rifle and pistol ranges, as well as the Clay Target Center, are currently closed to the public.
Arizona State Parks & Trails:
Arizona State Parks and Trails are open. We are taking the necessary precautions for our volunteers and staff, we ask that our visitors help us follow these guidelines by not gathering in groups, maintaining physical distance of six feet, using a different park or trail if it's crowded, using hand sanitizer and packing out all trash. We will continue to provide open spaces, hiking trails, campgrounds, and outdoor destinations for people to enjoy as long as we are able.
Arizona State Land Department:
As an essential state government office, the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) remains open to serve the Arizona public, Trust customers and stakeholder businesses. The agency is committed to doing all we can to protect the health of both the public and our employees while continuing to provide services to you, our customers.
As one of the hardest-hit areas in the state, the Navajo Nation remains under a nation-wide stay-at-home order to curtail the spread of COVID-19. All Navajo Nation government offices are closed through June 7. Additionally, the Navajo Nation Department of Health has issued a Public Health Emergency Lockdown Order for a 57-hour period beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, May 15 and expiring at 5 a.m. on Monday, May 18. During this time, all individuals are required to limit movement and all essential businesses including stores, gas stations, restaurants and drive-thrus will be closed. The Nation is closed to visitation during this time. Any visitors traveling through the Nation during curfew hours will be cited.