As Michigan moves to Stage 4 of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start plan, the Department of Natural Resources has determined official opening dates for state park and state forest campgrounds, state harbors and other DNR-managed outdoor spaces – just in time for the summer season.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, most state parks, state-managed trails and boating access sites stayed open to provide local opportunities for outdoor recreation. At the same time, the DNR worked behind the scenes to prepare to fully open sites and facilities once the department could again perform nonessential work and hire and train summer park workers. Learn more about what it will take to get campgrounds open this year.
“We are excited to open up these resources to visitors again,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “We can identify with the passion and enthusiasm people have for these beautiful outdoor spaces, especially during the warmer months, and we’re working hard to make sure everything is ready.”
Official opening dates include:
- Dispersed camping on state-managed lands – which allows for greater social distancing and does not involve shared restroom or shower facilities – resumed May 29.
- Camping at the state’s more than 140 rustic state forest campgrounds and overnight stays in DNR-managed harbors resume Wednesday, June 10.
- Camping, overnight lodging facilities, day-use shelters and sanitation stations (common place to dispose recreation vehicle wastewater) in state parks and recreation areas reopen Monday, June 22. Please note that a handful of campgrounds have extended closures due to construction that was delayed due to the COVID-19 stay-home order and associated spending restrictions.
- Many park amenities, such as bathroom buildings, hand-washing stations, trash services, concessions, playgrounds and play equipment, viewing platforms, fishing piers, GaGa ball pits, designated dog areas, disc golf courses, radio-controlled flying fields, pump tracks, and picnic tables and shelters, are beginning to open in phases. As anticipated opening dates are finalized, they will be posted to the DNR COVID-19 response page..
- Silver Lake State Park ORV Area in Oceana County will reopen Saturday, June 13.
- Opening dates for museums, historic sites, visitor centers and DNR-managed shooting ranges are being identified now. The dates will be available on the DNR COVID-19 response page.
“It’s good to see that Michigan is starting to open back up and, hopefully, returning to some sense of normal in many areas,” Olson said. “Spending time in the state’s great outdoors, making memories with family and friends, that’s one of the best Michigan traditions. We’re asking everyone to do their part to keep themselves and others safe, so that we can keep that tradition going all season long.”
Overnight reservations available
There are still opportunities to book a stay in nearly all DNR facilities this summer and into fall. Reservations for campsites and harbor slips can be made up to six months in advance of a planned arrival date, or 12 months in advance for overnight lodging facilities and day-use shelters. Visit MiDNRReservations.com or call 800-44PARKS.
New COVID-19 safety measures
The DNR has developed new operational and sanitation procedures to ensure the safety ofvisitors, volunteers and staff. That means some procedures will look a little different when checking in visitors, processing transactions and cleaning facilities.
Additionally, outdoor social gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted, as long as everyone practices proper social distancing (at least 6 feet from people outside your household). Facility parking lots also may be temporarily closed if people congregate too closely or if the location exceeds parking capacity.
Anyone planning to visit any state-managed land is encouraged to first visit the DNR COVID-19 response page for updates and frequently asked questions on facility closures, changes in services and event/meeting cancellations.