Here’s some welcome news for Wisconsin nature lovers. Gov. Tony Evers this morning announced that 34 state parks and forests will reopen starting Friday, May 1, with special precautions. Evers had ordered the parks closed earlier this month, citing “unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and out of an abundance of caution to protect public health.”
“Outdoor recreation is important for both physical and mental health, and I know how important it is to Wisconsinites to get outside and enjoy Wisconsin’s natural resources and spring weather,” Evers said in a statement. “With a few adjustments, like closing one day a week for maintenance and reduced hours of operation, folks should be able to get outside and enjoy our parks safely and respectfully.”
Bathrooms, towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers and concession buildings will remain closed. Camp sites will stay closed through May 26.
Visitors must have an annual park sticker or trail pass, which cannot be purchased on site. Stickers can be purchased with a credit card by phone 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. seven days a week by calling 1-888-305-0398.
Most state parks and forests will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, reduced from the normal hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. They’ll be closed to the public on Wednesdays for maintenance. Northern Forests, Flowages, Lower Wisconsin Riverway and Wild Rivers will be open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
Several locations will remain closed: Gibraltar Rock state natural area, Pewit’s Nest state natural area, Parfrey’s Glen state natural area and Dells of The Wisconsin River state natural area.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation and we encourage you and the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram,” the press release reads. “Additional information can be found on the CDC website.”