State campgrounds will finally open for the summer, with new precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Campers can once again pitch tents in state parks starting June 10, though restrictions will still apply, according to a release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Making reservations for camping can only be done online or over the phone, to cut down staff interaction with visitors, the release said. And once campers arrive at the campground, they’ll be able to go straight to their site, without any sort of check-in. Staff will be visiting sites to monitor occupancy.
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Campgrounds have been closed since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, to cut down the amount of interaction park staff have with visitors and over concerns about shared bathroom and shower facilities, where the virus might spread.
Most bathrooms are now open to the public, the release said, but drinking fountains in day-use areas will likely still not be in use. Access to water spigots will be available for campers.
Campers are also asked to remember to limit the spread of the coronavirus by practicing social distancing, not congregating in large groups, only traveling with home communities and following existing rules.
“Visitors are also encouraged to wear masks in situations where social distancing is difficult,” the release said.
Group camping areas and amphitheaters will reopen on June 30. Anyone with reservations for those facilities before June 30 will be refunded.
All other facilities, such as towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations and concessions will remain closed to the public, and equipment rentals will still be unavailable. Firewood will also not be available at parks and must be purchased by campers before they arrive, the release said.
Though parks and camping will be opened to the public, the DNR is still enforcing capacity limits, meaning that properties may be closed until the number of people in the park goes down, the release said. In cases where visitors may be denied entry to a park for that reason, the agency encourages recreators to visit and enjoy another park.
Though most parks are now open, Rock Island State Park remains closed through June 30, and the Washington Island Ferry Line has also suspended trips to and from the island. Also closed are several state natural areas: Pewits Nest, Parfrey’s Glen, Dells of the Wisconsin River and Gibraltar Rock.
All parks and campgrounds also require a yearly state park pass, which can only be purchased online or over the phone. To get a pass, visit www.yourpassnow.com or call 888-305-0398. To make camping reservations, visit www.wisconsin.goingtocamp.com or call 888-947-2757,
Laura Schulte can be reached at email@example.com and twitter.com/SchulteLaura.
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