Nature lovers, rejoice! If you've been missing your favorite enchanting escapes lately, get ready to lace up your hiking boots again soon. North Carolina state parks are reopening May 9, but social distancing guidelines will still apply.

"We are happy to announce that 28 state parks will re-open on Saturday morning," North Carolina State Parks and Recreation posted to Facebook today, May 7.

"This is Phase I of reopening state parks, and all parks will have limited facilities available."

Most trails will be open at each location, with some parks also allowing access to restrooms and boat ramps. However, some facilities will remain closed until further notice.

“Visitor centers, exhibits, meeting rooms, community buildings, picnic shelters, and retail areas will remain closed to enable staff to focus on cleaning restrooms and implementing social distancing on trails and other open areas," the official website explains.

Twelve of the state's other parks have been able to stay open through the pandemic, with staff carefully making sure each location stays up to par with health guidelines given by the CDC.

Of North Carolina's 41 state parks and nature areas, only Gorges State Park will remain closed until its tentative opening on May 13, according to The Charlotte Observer.

To protect staff and visitors as well as reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Division of Parks and Recreation has put cleaning protocols in place for each location. The staff will also be wearing personal protective equipment to ensure everyone's safety.

Phase 2 is currently set to roll around near May 22, where state park cabins will start retaking reservations, and various picnic shelters will begin to open again. Beaches and swimming areas at select parks will also open in the second phase.

Phase 3 will be a complete reopening of all the parks. A date as to when that will happen has yet to be announced.

The park suggests staying six-feet away from others on the same trail, wearing a mask, and avoiding crowded areas to help combat the spread of the virus while still having a great outdoor adventure.


We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.

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