California Parks Close and Limit Services Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

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Visitor centers and some roads are closed at Joshua Tree National Park. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

National parks and recreation areas located in the Bay Area are closed or scaling back services to comply with local “shelter-in-place” orders from county officials. 

In San Francisco, Alcatraz Island is temporarily shut down along with visitor centers in the Presidio, Fort Point and Land's End. The welcome center at the south end of Golden Gate Bridge is also closed.

People who are looking to escape the city for fresh air will find similar closures in the Marin Headlands, where the Point Bonita Lighthouse and visitor center are both shuttered, as well as, all the campgrounds.

Muir Woods National Monument has closed its park and parking lot.

Golden Gate Recreation Area says staffing and trash pickup are limited and are asking visitors to pack out any trash. Read more here.


This week, national parks across the U.S. finally began barring entrance, closing facilities and amending other services to adhere to the latest COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

Park rangers and public health officials expressed outrage that many national park visitor centers remained open as late as Tuesday, as the novel coronavirus spread throughout the U.S., the Guardian reported. 

Now, Yosemite has scaled back services; Death Valley and Joshua Tree have closed roads and visitor centers. Pt. Reyes National Seashore has shut down its center along with all of its campsites until at least April 7.

If you are visiting the parks, officials urge you to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by “maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.”

Read more from the park service here and look up information about individual parks here.

People across the Bay Area are living under mandatory orders to stay in their homes except for essential outings. But people can still go outside, walk their dog, bike for exercise, or even drive to a trail and go for a hike.

If you're wondering whether it's safe to surf, the Surfrider Foundation is tracking the latest science on COVID-19 and water, but there is still a lot that researchers do not know.

The virus “has been shown to remain viable and infectious, at least temporarily, in natural freshwater environments including lakes and streams,” the foundation wrote in a blog, adding that the risk is likely low due to dilution.

The foundation says researchers still do not know if “swimming at saltwater beaches elevates the risk of contracting COVID-19.”
Health officials are asking walkers and hikers to be considerate, use common sense and proceed as if they are carrying the virus, even if they are not experiencing symptoms.