So what’s the deal here? Are Ohio’s state parks open or are they all shut down?
Well, it’s actually a little bit of both.
On March 17, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health, closed all Ohio State Park offices and watercraft offices for public visitation to protect the health of both visitors and staff from COVID-19.
But don’t let that confuse you – that order only closed the park “offices” but the actual state parks are still “open” for the public to enjoy.
Most recently though, in response to Gov. Mike DeWine’s “Stay at Home” order, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced, as of March 24, that campgrounds, cabins, golf courses, restrooms, shower houses, APV areas, horse camps, playgrounds and state park marinas at all ODNR properties are closed to help slow the spreading of the novel coronavirus.
But again, don’t let that confuse you or discourage you from using your state parks, because according to park officials all public outdoor spaces at Ohio’s state parks including forest, nature preserves and wildlife areas will still be open. This includes trails, dog parks and non-marina boat docks.
Although the park trails are open, ODNR states in its press release that visitors should use common sense and practice proper social distancing.
State park dog parks are also open but again, according to ODNR, the number of visitors will be limited and visitors should use common sense and practice proper social distancing.
All of these closures are expected to be temporary until COVID-19 guidelines are changed.
Naturalist programs, hikes and special events are suspended through May 15.
Staff is available by phone and email to respond to questions regarding local facilities, as well as current and new reservations.
Visit ohiostateparks.org to find the park office number for each park.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.