COLUMBUS — In response to the developing public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Stay at Home Order, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) on March 24 closed campgrounds, cabins, golf courses, restrooms, shower houses, playgrounds, and state park marinas at all ODNR properties to protect the health of both visitors and staff. The closures remain in effect.
Public outdoor spaces at Ohio state parks, wildlife areas, forests and nature preserves remain open, including trails, dog parks, and non-marina docks with a few exceptions:
• Hocking Hills State Park is closed, which includes Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Old Man’s Cave, Rock House and Whispering Cave.
• Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve is closed.
• Magee Marsh Wildlife Area is closed.
• The board trail at Maumee Bay State Park is closed.
Visitors to Ohio state parks are asked to use common sense and adhere to the following guidelines from the National Recreation and Park Association for staying safe while they are out:
• Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.
• Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike.
• Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn.
• Note that trail and park users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms.
• Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable.
• Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect park workers.
Closures are expected to be temporary until COVID-19 guidelines change or are lifted. For state park lodge or lodge cabin customers who wish to modify or cancel current reservations, please visit www.greatohiolodges.com or call 877-496-9224. The lodge and cabin operator, U.S. Hotels, is offering refunds for reservations made prior to closure.
To modify or cancel day use facility, state park campground or state park cabin reservations, please visit www.reserveohio.com or call 866-644-6727. Ohio state parks offers free transfers of reservations to a later date or refunds for reservations between 3/17/20 and 5/15/20.
For more information on COVID-19 and ODH’s recommendations on prevention and preparation, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.
Information for this story was provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.