Coronavirus: Parking lots reopen at 27 California state parks

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Parking lots are gradually starting to open up again at some of California’s state parks.

Without an official announcement, the state started to slowly open parking lots at 27 parks and beaches in Sonoma, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Riverside and Orange counties, along with the Lake Tahoe Area, and a few other mostly rural parts of California.

In the majority of the re-opened lots, 50% or less of the parking spaces will be available to the public.

California has 280 state parks. As of Monday, 36 were closed and 244 were open. State parks officials have shut down the parking lots in the parks that are open as a technique to encourage only local visitors and reduce crowd size. 

Gloria Sandoval, deputy director of California’s state parks department, said Monday that the state was able to reopen some lots starting Friday after consultation with local and state health officials. She said that the department expects visitors not to travel across county lines, and to go only to their local parks, as a way to reduce overcrowding until conditions continue to improve and more rules can be relaxed.

“We are still telling people to stay close to home,” she said. “It’s important for everybody to do their part to help mitigate the spread of the virus.”

Sandoval recommended that anyone planning to visit a state park first look up the website for that individual park to see the latest rules at www.parks.ca.gov. All beaches in Santa Cruz County, for example, are closed daily between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., by local order, with violators subject to $1,000 fines — although swimming and surfing are permitted.

Guided tours, museums, campgrounds and visitor centers remain shut down at all state parks, although trails are open at some.

The state parks where parking lots have partially opened up again, by county, are:

Butte County

Lake Oroville State Recreation Area

El Dorado County

Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park

Emerald Bay State Park

Folsom Lake State Recreation Area (also in Sacramento and Placer counties)

Lake Valley State Recreation Area

Washoe Meadows State Park

Kern County

Onyx Ranch State Vehicular Recreation Area

Nevada County

Donner Memorial State Park

Orange County

Bolsa Chica State Beach

Doheny State Beach

Huntington State Beach

San Clemente State Beach

Crystal Cove State Beach

Placer County

Auburn State Recreation Area

Kings Beach State Recreation Area

Riverside County

Lake Perris State Recreation Area

San Benito County

Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area

Santa Cruz County

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

Wilder Ranch State Park

Shasta County

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Sonoma County

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

Austin Creek State Recreation Area

Jack London State Historic Park

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Trione-Annadel State Park

Tuolumne County

Columbia State Historic Park

On Monday, as he relaxed some rules around California, Gov. Gavin Newsom was asked when he would be opening state parks parking lots, following reports that it was difficult for the elderly and disabled visitors to visit the ones that are open.

“There are 27 proof points that that was done in the last few days,” Newsom said.

Newsom and parks officials continue to urge state parks visitors to practice physical distancing and avoid congregating with people outside their immediate household.

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