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Arkansas State Parks Address Coronavirus

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See the latest update on Arkansas State Park closings at:

https://arkansasoutside.com/arkansas-department-of-parks-heritage-and-tourism-announces-closings-and-limiting-of-some-services/

The first thing that Arkansas State Parks want you to know is, THEY ARE OPEN! On Friday afternoon (3/13/2020) the parks posted a special notice on the ArkansasStateParks.com website.

The short of it is that they are doing business as usual except for the following areas:

  • Interpretive programming will not be held in the parks until May 14th. This includes outreach programming the parks do at local schools and community centers.
  • There are some limits placed on the Crater of Diamonds State Park. They will be limiting access to the search field to 500 people at a time. That seems like a lot but the field often handles between 800-1000 guests at a time during this time of year. They also will not be renting search equipment due to issues with cleaning them between users.
  • They are also stepping up enhanced cleaning as per CDC guidelines throughout the parks.
Photo Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
Photo Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

The parks have also stressed that guests are welcome to enjoy the trails, waterways, and unique outdoor experiences throughout the park system. As people practice social distancing throughout the state, the state parks are a good option to get out of the house for a bit. Going for a hike, going fishing, a canoe or kayak trip or some wildlife watching are all great ways to relieve the stress of being cooped up in the house.

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Remember to check back to the state park website for the most current information as situations change.

Here is the full text of their announcement:

Arkansas State Parks remain open as we monitor COVID-19 and the impact of coronavirus in our state. We are taking the CDC’s recommended precautions as we work to provide a safe environment for our guests.

Parks continue to be your gateway to hiking, kayaking and canoeing, golf, mountain biking, fishing and boating and other outdoor experiences.

Interpretive Programming

To protect our guests and staff, scheduled programming is canceled through May 13, 2020. This may be extended if warranted. This includes special events, tours, guided hikes, workshops, day camps, school groups, and other programs. This will include closure of historic or other buildings used exclusively for interpretive programming.

Arkansas State Park facilities such as campgrounds, lodges, cabins, restaurants, marinas, museums, bathrooms and visitor centers currently remain open. Park staff is following all CDC guidelines for cleaning these facilities.

Day-Use Visitors

Our parks remain free to enter and enjoy. One of the benefits of the outdoors is the opportunity to find solitude and relaxation while hiking, running, paddling, biking, fishing, boating, or wildlife watching. We are taking the recommended precautions from the CDC to maintain clean and sanitary public spaces (visitor centers, restrooms, etc.).

Cabin, Lodge, YURT, Rent-A-RV, Camper Cabins, and Rent-A-Camp Guests

The overnight facilities within our parks remain open. We are taking the recommended precautions from the CDC to clean and maintain these facilities. Safety is a top priority for our overnight guests.

Camping Guests

Campgrounds within our parks remain open. We operate a variety of campsites that range from primitive backcountry locations to those with full sewer hookups. We are taking the recommended precautions from the CDC to maintain clean and sanitary public spaces (bathhouses, restrooms, etc.). Guests in self-contained RV units can take advantage of sewer hookups at certain parks and reduce the need to use public facilities.

Group Guests

If you are a group planner, we encourage you to communicate directly with the park where you have planned your event. This will allow park staff to work directly with you and answer logistical questions pertaining to your event.

Golf Course and Marina Guests

Golf Courses at Village Creek and DeGray Lake Resort state parks, along with all park marinas, remain open in accordance with our standard hours of operation.  We are taking the recommended precautions from the CDC to clean and maintain these facilities as we work to protect our guests and staff.

Crater of Diamonds State Park

We have implemented the following changes at Crater of Diamonds State Park as it pertains to the Diamond Search Area.

  • 500 guests will be granted access to the field at any given time within normal operating hours.
  • The park will not be renting mining equipment, as we are unable to sufficiently clean the equipment between users per CDC standards.

Tools are not necessary for diamond seeking, and a good way to search is to walk up and down the rows looking for diamonds lying on top of the ground. However, most diamond hunters like to dig in the soil. Therefore, you have the options of bringing your own tools from home.

Park visitors may bring anything from small flowerbed trowels to full size shovels for digging. Some choose to make their own sifting screens and bring them. Refer to the Crater of Diamonds website for more information about what you are allowed to bring.

Museums

Museums within Arkansas State Parks are open under their regular schedules. Park staff is following all CDC guidelines for cleaning these facilities.

What are Arkansas State Parks doing to control COVID-19?

Maintaining safe and sanitary facilities within Arkansas State Parks has always been a top priority, but with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Arkansas, thorough cleaning is paramount. ASP staff are directed to follow CDC-approved cleaning procedures. Our protocol includes the following:

  • Increased frequency for cleaning and disinfection of facilities including daily sanitation of restrooms, kitchens, and other high traffic areas.
  • Access to handwashing facilities and hand sanitizers for employees and the public.
  • Engage in rigorous cleaning of public overnight facilities in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Visitors with questions should contact the park directly.

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