Stay away from others.
That seems to be the best advice I could give or receive in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While I would encourage everyone to stay at home almost exclusively and limit their exposure from others, at the same time, I haven’t locked the doors and barred the windows. There is a world of adventure to be had, and we need exercise and fresh air as much as ever right now.
So what can we do about it? How can we escape our plastic bubbles of safety while getting some Vitamin D? Head out to a local Minnesota State Park. You may have heard or are assuming that everything is closed, but here’s the word from the Minnesota DNR:
Executive Order 20-33 allows people to be outdoors, engaging in activities such as walking, running, and fishing and hunting. Minnesotans can continue to enjoy parks and other public recreation lands. We urge outdoor enthusiasts to:
- Stay close to home.
- Not congregate when outdoors.
- Follow social distancing guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health.
What is open?
- State parks. Bathrooms, vault toilets and shower buildings currently open will remain open. Other facilities are closed.
- Minnesota’s waters. You can fish if you have a license. Normal seasons and regulations apply.
- Hunting seasons. There are no changes to upcoming hunting seasons. Normal regulations apply.
- Public land. Wildlife management areas, state forests, and Scientific and Natural Areas are open for recreation. Campgrounds are closed.
- Public water accesses. State-managed public accesses are open, though the availability of amenities, such as docks, are contingent upon seasonal maintenance.
What is closed?
Announced recently, Grand Portage State Park is closed completely. Read the full details here.
The following DNR-managed facilities:
- Campgrounds, group camps, remote and dispersed camping at all state parks, state forests, and state recreation areas.
- Camper cabins.
- Overnight lodging facilities.
- Group centers, trail centers and other ancillary buildings.
- Visitor centers.
- State park contact stations.
- Grand Portage State Park.
- Wabanica and Wheeler’s Point public water accesses on Lake of the Woods County are currently closed, per local emergency action.
For further information on what is closed, and current updates as the situation progresses, visit the Minnesota DNR website.
How can I visit Minnesota State Parks Safely?
Mitigate Your Risk
- Visit on a weekday instead of a weekend. Less is definitely more right now and you’re less likely to run into a crowd by heading out on low traffic days.
- Push yourself to get up early for a sunrise instead of a sunset. Nearly every time I’ve gone out for sunrise, I’ve been the only person I’ve seen.
- Buy your pass online before you head out. Less things you have to touch in the outside world. Also try to plan ahead so you can have the cool window sticker shipped in 5-10 before visiting the parks.
- Don’t go far. There’s a park within a fifty mile radius of all of us. When you stay close you use less fuel, so less stops to get more. You can eat at home before, bring a snack, then return home for dinner to save stopping somewhere for a meal.
- Try the less popular parks. Maybe don’t go to Gooseberry Falls, where you’d be likely to run into others on the short trail from the parking lot to the falls. There are 75 other places you can go, and I’ve enjoyed every single one I’ve visited thus far.
- Push yourself to try new trails. I’ve found one park so far with only one trail, but most have quite a network. Take the long way around, see something new and get a chance to spend more time alone.
- Don’t let people pet your dog. Not because your pet will transmit the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports this is highly unlikely. But strangers coming up close to you to pet your precious pooch? Well COVID-19 provides a good excuse to politely make your dog walking outings simpler. Though it does suck for me, as I love to pet people’s puppies.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you are all staying safe and taking care of yourselves. If you’ve gone out at all during this time and have some good adventure stories of places you’ve visited that you might not have in the past, I would love to hear about them. While we figure out our new normals, it’s important to stay vigilant but not forget to focus on the things we live for.
If you like this post or know someone who could use a little incentive to get outside as the weather gets better, please consider sharing this on social media, and pinning on Pinterest!