Almost three months after California closed campgrounds at all of its state parks due to the coronavirus, campsites at 28 state parks are expected to reopen on Friday and have started taking reservations.
Most are found in Southern California along the beaches of Santa Barbara in San Diego County, although several are around the Lake Tahoe area and two in the Big Bay area – Little Basin, a former Hewlett-Packard Retreat Center near Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County and Half Moon Bay State Beach on the San Mateo County coast.
“We’re excited that state parks are starting to provide additional recreational opportunities to the public,” said Gloria Sandoval, deputy director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. “This is just the beginning.”
California has 280 state parks – a spectacular collection of landscapes ranging from the Sierra Nevada mountains to redwood forests to wide sandy beaches. Of these, there are approximately 13,000 campsites in 105 parks with camping for tents, RVs and cabins. The parks open at the campsite on Friday have 1,667 sites.
State park officials say they hope to open more campgrounds in more parks in the coming weeks.
Reservations for summer campsites in California are in high demand and are done quickly, especially along the coast.
To reserve a location, go to www.reservecalifornia.com
There’s one complication: Anyone with existing camping reservations between Friday and June 21 has seen those reservations canceled and must book again, Sandoval said. This is because only half of the spaces will be open initially at these campsites, and state officials have decided not to randomly cancel half of the bookings, but rather to start with all new bookings.
People who have state park camping reservations after June 21 can have them canceled if the campgrounds they are reserved in have not yet reopened, Sandoval said. Park officials are working with county health officials to open more campgrounds, and many reservations could be honored, she said. It will depend on how fast or how slowly the COVID-19 spread.
“The important message for everyone is that COVID always stays fluid,” she said. “The number of park units that we reopen for camping may fluctuate depending on public health orders. Our commitment is to ensure the safety of the public.
Campers whose existing bookings are canceled will be notified by email and refunded their money, Sandoval said.
Anyone with questions can call Reserve California at 1-800-444-7275.
The decision to start opening some campsites in state parks comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration last week released new guidelines that allowed county health workers in the state to reopen gyms, bars, hotels, campgrounds and other businesses, but with sanitary security conditions. .
Southern California counties have reopened their businesses and other facilities generally at a faster rate than most Bay Area counties, despite the fact that about 80% of the estimated 4,800 deaths from COVID-19 in California have happened so far in five counties in Southern California – Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino and Orange.
As part of the first wave of campground openings in state parks, only about half of the spaces at each campsite will be open to maintain social distancing, Sandoval said.
Restrooms and showers will be open, but visitor centers will be closed, and in some parks, amenities such as fireplaces and play equipment may be banned early on to reduce crowds, she said.
All 280 state parks in California except 21 are now open for hiking and other recreation, but some parking lots are still closed.
The 28 parks where campgrounds open on Fridays are:
Bolsa Chica State Beach (Orange County)
Chino Hills State Park (San Bernardino County)
Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area (Colusa County)
Crystal Cove State Park Moro Campground (Orange County)
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (San Diego County)
Big Basin Redwoods State Park (Little Basin Campgrounds) (Santa Cruz County)
DL Bliss State Park (Lake Tahoe region)
Doheny State Beach (Orange County)
Donner Memorial State Park (Lake Tahoe area)
El Capitan State Beach (Santa Barbara County)
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area (Placer County)
Grover Hot Springs State Park (Alps County)
Half Moon Bay State Beach (San Mateo County)
Lake Perris State Recreation Area (Riverside County)
Leo Carrillo State Park (Los Angeles County)
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park (Nevada County)
Mount San Jacinto State Park (Riverside County)
Palomar Mountain State Park (San Diego County)
Point Mugu State Park (Ventura County)
Refugio State Beach (Santa Barbara County)
Salton Sea State Recreation Area (Riverside County)
San Clemente State Beach (Orange County)
San Elijo State Beach (San Diego County)
San Onofre State Beach (San Diego County)
Silver Strand State Beach (San Diego County)
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area (San Bernardino County)
South Carlsbad State Beach (San Diego County)
Sugar Pine Point State Park (Lake Tahoe region)
For more information, visit www.parks.ca.gov/COVID19Camping