California state park campgrounds and parking lots close down

Death Valley remains open but visitor centers and campgrounds are temporarily closed over coronavirus precautions.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

California State Parks closed all campgrounds Wednesday because of the coronavirus, but hiking trails and beaches remain open. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday shut parking lots to keep crowds from gathering at parks. Outdoor spaces also remain open in some local and national parks, but many services have been suspended.

Park programs, shuttles and tours have been halted as a precaution against the outbreak, while some lodgings and restaurants are closed.

The good news: You can still go hiking as long as you practice social distancing and steer clear of others. Also it’s a good idea to bring your own soap and hand sanitizer along to wash your hands frequently.


Here’s a rundown of what’s open and what’s closed:

National parks

Some national parks are open to visitors, but services vary from park to park, particularly in California. Visitor centers have closed and ranger-guided hikes and other park events have been canceled at most sites. Some campgrounds remain open, but it varies from park to park.

In Yosemite, all restaurants and lodges are closed through March 31. So are the Upper Pines and Camp 4 campgrounds, which had been open until Wednesday. (That leaves no Yosemite campgrounds open.) The hiking trails do remain open, a park statement says. The park urges visitors to buy entry passes online. Info: Yosemite National Park

Death Valley is closing all campgrounds by Thursday; visitor centers have closed too. No reopening date was set. However, the Oasis at Death Valley, which includes the luxury inn and lodge as well as restaurants, remains open. Info: Death Valley National Park

Sequoia-Kings Canyon is closing lodgings and restaurants until April 1. Visitor centers also are closed, but stores remain open noon to 5 p.m. “Where it is possible to adhere to the latest health guidance, outdoor spaces including trails and campgrounds will remain open to provide healthy options for the public,” a park statement said. Info: Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park

At the Grand Canyon, El Tovar Hotel; the Bright Angel, Thunderbird, Kachina and Maswik lodges; and other lodgings operated by park concessionaire Xanterra will close Friday. Also the Yavapai Lodge will close Sunday until May 1. Shuttle buses and mule rides also are suspsended.

The Grand Canyon also has temporarily suspended collecting fees at the Desert View and South entrances. The park took this action to limit exposure of park staff and visitors to the novel coronavirus, a park statement says. HIking trails and campgrounds remain open.


California State Parks

Hiking trails and beaches remain open but all state park campgrounds closed Wednesday to slow the spread of the virus, according to a statement. Restrooms are open but visitors are asked to bring their own soap and hand sanitizer.

The agency last week suspended guided tours at sites such as Hearst Castle. It also temporarily closed museums and visitor centers, such as the nature center at the Antelope Valley poppy reserve, and canceled events where people would gather.

Info: California State Parks

Local parks

In the city of Los Angeles, Recreation and Parks Department officials have closed all facilities, a move that leaves hiking trails open in Griffith Park and elsewhere but shuts down almost all programs, services and buildings through April 4.

The closures include all recreation centers, all aquatic centers, and all recreation and cultural programming, including leagues and classes. Access to census stations will be permitted, a city statement said, with a limit of 50 people at a time in the facility.

All city of Los Angeles senior centers are closed, but the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Department of Aging plan to distribute pre-packaged meals to older adults at many senior centers on weekdays.


The Department of Recreation and Parks said “home delivered meals will continue to be delivered” through existing programs and that “older adults can contact the centers they participate at directly or reach the L.A City Department of Aging at (213) 482-7252” Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In Griffith Park, the closures include Griffith Observatory, Travel Town, train rides, pony rides and the merry-go-round.

Other closures: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, Sherman Oaks Castle Park and Expo Center.

The city’s statement said golf courses “will remain open but subject to change.”

Orange County’s wilderness parks and beaches remain open. However, the county closed vehicle access to Carbon Canyon, Clark, Craig, Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Mason, Mile Square, Tri-City and Yorba regional parks. Visitors may still walk or bicycle in, and restrooms remain open.

Also, Peters Canyon, Santiago Oaks and O’Neill parks are still open. Nature and interpretive centers are closed.