PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL: Get Outside Safely, Responsibly, and Locally
New York State’s PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL campaign encourages residents to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. New York State Parks and the Department of Environmental Conservation recommendations for getting outside safely incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases. PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL encourages New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect for all outdoor adventurers, and use common sense to protect themselves and others.
To support this effort, State Parks and DEC are encouraging visitors to New York’s great outdoors and to use the hashtags #PlaySmartPlaySafePlayLocal, #RecreateResponsibly, and #RecreateLocal on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share their visit and encourage others to get outside safely, responsibly, and locally, too. Use the DECinfo Locator to find a DEC-managed resource near you and visit the State Parks website for information about parks and park closures. Check https://parks.ny.gov/parks/ and 511NY for park capacity closure alerts. You can also get the New York State Parks Explorer App, a free, user-friendly resource to get alerts and plan outdoor adventures. State Parks Explorer mobile app is available at no cost for download for iOS and Android devices.
To download, visit:
- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.ny.its.nysparks or
Take the Pledge to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL: Enjoy the Outdoors Safely and Responsibly
- I pledge to respect the rules and do my part to keep parks, beaches, trails, boat launches, and other public spaces safe for everyone.
- I will stay local and close to home.
- I will maintain a safe distance from others outside of my household.
- I will wear a mask when I cannot maintain social distancing.
- I accept that this summer, I may have to adjust how I enjoy the outdoors to help keep myself and others healthy and safe, even if it means changing my plans to visit a public space.
- I will be respectful of others by letting them pass by me if needed on a trail and keeping my blanket ten feet apart from others on the beach.
- I will move quickly through shared areas like parking lots, trailheads, and scenic areas to avoid crowding.
- If I’m not feeling well, I will stay home.
Getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, swim, ride a bicycle, fish, hunt, go horseback riding, go boating, or visit a park or state lands is a healthy way to stay active, spend time with immediate household and family members, and reduce stress and anxiety when practicing social distancing. While indoor spaces and restrooms at State Parks and DEC public facilities may be closed out of an abundance of caution to prevent community spread of COVID-19, many parks, grounds, forests, and trails are open during daylight hours, seven days a week. However, on a case-by-case basis, DEC and State Parks may close certain trails and areas to recreation if density pressures do not allow for appropriate social distancing.
New York is focused on getting people back to work and easing social isolation without triggering the further spread of COVID-19. Responsible, respectful, local recreation is a crucial part of continuing to help New Yorkers stay active, spend time with immediate household and family members, and reduce stress and anxiety.
Please note: State parks, lands, forests, and facilities are monitored by Park Police, Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and other staff. These parks, lands, forests, and facilities will incorporate physical distancing for visitors and staff to limit potential spread of COVID-19. In addition, these officers and staff respond to, and assist, local agencies with search and rescue missions, wildfire suppression, and more. Following this guidance (PDF) will prevent unnecessary burdens on, and dangers to, state resources and frontline emergency first responders during the ongoing COVID-19 response.
Below are some specifics for State Park visitors:
Parking: To encourage physical social distancing at popular parks, trailheads, and scenic areas, State Parks will reduce the number of available parking spaces on high visitation days. Have a plan ready to visit a different park or another park area. Visit https://parks.ny.gov/parks/ for a list of parks. Park maps are available on each park page.
Face Coverings: For the safety of all visitors, please wear a face covering when you cannot maintain social distance.
Restrooms: Public restrooms may be limited. Visitors should plan accordingly and call the park office for more information.
Beaches: State Park beaches are open on their normal seasonal schedule, at 50% capacity or less and with heightened precautions. You must practice social distancing at a state beach.
More details are available through our press release
Pools: Pools are open with density reduction measures in effect. Visitors can check the individual park’s swimming hours of operation before they visit. Visit https://parks.ny.gov/parks/park-results.aspx?a=76&ao=0&src=3 for a listing of State Parks with swimming pools.
2020 Camping: New York State Park campsites, cabins and cottages are currently open. Reservations can be made in advance by calling toll free 1-800-456-CAMP or http://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com. No walk-in stays will be accepted at this time.
Cabins, Cottages and Yurts: State Parks has implemented an enhanced COVID-19 cleaning protocol at its cabins, cottages and yurts at the conclusion of each reservation. Due to the large number of sites involved, this sanitizing protocol requires a two-day reduction in weekly reservations to allow staff adequate time to perform these tasks. This reduction in availability is necessary to fulfill our mission to provide safe and enjoyable recreational opportunities for our many visitors. We will continue to evaluate our protocols as the COVID-19 status evolves.
New York State Park Camping Guidelines
2021 CAMPING: New York State Parks has temporarily lifted the 9-month reservation window restriction for camping and will allow for transfers of existing camping reservations into the 2021 season. If you choose to transfer, the change fee will be waived until June 11th for online transactions only. In addition, you may also make new reservations for the 2021 season at this time. Please note that there is no guarantee that you will get the same camping site or dates for 2021 whether you transfer or make a new reservation. We encourage online reservations as the Call Center is experiencing longer than average wait times.
Golf: Golf courses operated by State Parks may be open. Operating schedules will differ across the state. Call the course directly for current information.
Travel Advisory: Please note New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut have implemented a tri-state travel advisory that requires any individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Visit https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory for more information on the advisory, including the daily updated list of affected states.
While enjoying outdoor spaces, please continue to follow the CDC/NYSDOH’s guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19:
- Stay home if you are sick, or showing or feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, coughing, and/or troubled breathing;
- Practice social distancing by keeping at least six (6) feet of distance between yourself and others, even when outdoors;
- Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distancing;
- Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, or high-fives;
- Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available; and
- Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.
DEC and State Parks also encourage visitors to state parks and state lands, and other parks to:
- Use common sense when visiting the outdoors. Stay local within your region because some amenities like public restrooms and restaurants may not be open.
- Visit in small groups limited to family members and members of your own household. Maintain a distance from others while in places where people tend to congregate, such as parking lots, trailheads, and scenic overlooks.
- Know before you go. Plan ahead and make a list of alternate destinations. Beaches and trailheads will be busy. Many state beaches and parks will quickly reach capacity limits on nice weather days. Check parks.ny.gov, and 511.org for park capacity closure alerts.
- Choose a time to visit when beaches, trails, and parks are likely to be less crowded, such as a weekday or earlier in the day.
- Park responsibly in designated areas only.
- Avoid games and activities that require close contact, such as basketball, football, or soccer.
- Do not share equipment, such as bicycles, helmets, binoculars, balls, or Frisbees.
- If parking lots are full, please do not park along roadsides or other undesignated areas. To protect your safety and that of others, please choose a different area to visit, or return another time or day when parking is available.
- Practice ‘Leave No Trace.’ Respect parks and state lands and take out whatever you bring in, including disposable gloves, wipes, masks, and toilet paper.
- Stay home if you’re sick or if part of a vulnerable population.
- Be patient. Accept that this summer, you may have to adjust how you enjoy the outdoors to help keep yourself and others healthy and safe, even if it means changing your plans to visit a public space.
New Yorkers over 70 years old or with a compromised immune system should not visit public spaces, including those outdoors. These New Yorkers should remain indoors or spend time in the backyard or other personal outdoor space, pre-screen visitors by taking their temperature, and require visitors to wear masks.
Below are links to the specific guidance for more information about how to #RecreateLocal, safely and responsibly:
- Guidance for Hikers
- Guidance for Beaches
- Guidance for Boating/Paddling
- Guidance for Anglers
- Guidance for Hunters
- Guidance for Pools
- Fourth of July Guidance
What’s local? New York is a large and geographically diverse state. Consistent with the NYForward phased reopening plan, DEC and State Parks are encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally in their region. Each of the state’s 10 REDC regions have a wide variety of recreational opportunities available within them for the public to explore and enjoy. New Yorkers getting outdoors should use common sense in planning outdoor activities because public facilities like restrooms or other amenities may not be available. Use the DECinfo Locator to find the DEC-managed resource near you or visit https://parks.ny.gov/ for information about State Parks.