Arkansas state parks put restrictions on hiking trails for social distancing
Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism (ADPHT), today announced all Arkansas State Parks will be open for day use only effective 8 a.m. on Friday, April 3, until further notice.
ADPHT is eliminating all overnight stay opportunities. These changes will maintain some access to parks at this time but discourage trips from out-of-state visitors. This move is consistent with 28 other states.
Due to the inability to offer adequate space for social distancing, the following areas and trails will be closed:
Cedar Falls Trail and Cedar Falls Overlook at Petit Jean State Park
Day-Use Area on Highway 300 and the East Summit trailhead parking areas at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, including access to the West Summit, East Summit, Kingfisher and Base Trails, the Little Maumelle River Boat Ramp and the Picnic Area
Fossil Flats Mountain Bike Trail and the Woody Plants Trail at Devil’s Den State Park
Additional trails and facilities may be closed if visitors are unable to maintain physical distancing on other trails or other day-use areas.
“Our state parks are valuable resources for the citizens of our state,” said Hurst. “We are making this decision to slow the traffic to our parks and to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. People may still come and enjoy outdoor activities for the day. Our uniformed staff will be reminding them to practice social distancing and be good stewards of our beautiful parks.”
Any deposits to the parks will be refunded, and any fees will be waived. Questions about reservation cancellation should be made to the parks directly.
Additional limitations to day-use visitation will be implemented to reduce the opportunity to spread the virus.
Parking will be restricted at highly visited parks to designated lots only and enforced through citations/tickets issued by Park Rangers. Some parks will close the entry gate to the park when it is full for crowd control.
Problematic areas such as trails that are either too narrow for proper social distancing or so popular that crowding occurs at the trailhead may be closed.
Park Rangers will enforce social distancing by patrolling parks and dispersing gatherings of more than 10 people. Uniformed staff, including superintendents and interpreters, will actively help educate visitors on the grounds on busy days.
Park Rangers or other park staff from across the system will be deployed to highly visited parks as needed in anticipation of crowds.
Complete and up-to-date information on the parks and closings can be found athttps://www.ArkansasStateParks.com/covid-19-update.