Arkansas state parks, which have stayed open to some degree during the entire stretch of covid-19 restrictions, aim to move closer to normal operations as the summer vacation season arrives.
Even with social distancing still a rule, the outdoor expanses at many of the 52 parks offer ample open space to explore alone or with close family or friends on hiking and biking trails. Fishing is permitted as another safe activity.
State-park lodges and cabins can be rented again, but only on Fridays through Mondays to allow time midweek for thorough cleaning. Campsites are partly open. Access to visitor centers and museums varies with location. Playgrounds, swimming pools and beaches remain closed. So do many restrooms.
Hours and visitor-center capacities are reduced for most parks at historic and prehistoric sites, such as Toltec Mounds, Plantation Agriculture Museum, Arkansas Post Museum, Historic Washington and Lower White River Museum. A face mask or other covering is required indoors.
With regulations changing, it's wise to call ahead to double-check with the park you plan to visit. Updated information and park telephone numbers can be found at arkansas.com.
Here is the situation at some popular parks, bearing in mind that specifics may have changed by the time you read this:
• Pinnacle Mountain State Park, west of Little Rock. All of Pinnacle Mountain's 11 hiking trails and two bike trails are now open. That includes the challenging West Summit and East Summit trails, which only reopened in mid-May. The popular playground at the West Summit Picnic Area remains closed.
• Crater of Diamonds State Park, south of Murfreesboro. One of the world's only sites where visitors can dig for diamonds at their source is open again to the public. Admission to the search field is limited to 500 people a day. Tickets bought online will give more reliable access to the mine area, where families must keep a 12-foot distance from other diggers unless wearing face masks. Additional temporary rules are posted online.
• Petit Jean State Park, west of Morrilton. The popular Mather Lodge at Arkansas' oldest state park has reopened for room reservations Fridays through Mondays. The lodge's restaurant is open with limited capacity and hours. The popular Cedar Falls Trail remains temporarily closed. Other trails are open.
• DeGray Lake Resort State Park, north of Arkadelphia. The lodge is open for reservations Friday-Monday. Guests must wear a cloth face-covering inside all public buildings. The visitor center, marina and gift shops are open with limited hours, as is the restaurant. The golf course and pro shop are open. Camping is limited to guests with private recreational vehicles that have self-contained bathroom facilities.
• Lake Catherine State Park, southeast of Hot Springs. The visitor center and marina are open on a limited basis. Cabins and the one tented yurt can be rented Friday-Monday. Bathhouses are closed. Trails are open. Arkansas Riding Stables is open, with reservations highly advised. Riders' helmets are sanitized between uses, and physical distancing between horses is practiced.
• Mount Nebo State Park, west of Dardanelle. The historic Cornwell House remains closed. Day-use areas are open except for the playground. Campers are required to have their own recreational vehicle with bathroom facilities.
• Woolly Hollow State Park, northeast of Greenbrier. Rental is once more available on Lake Bennett for canoes, kayaks, pedal boats and fishing boats. All four trails are open, including the half-mile route past Woolly Cabin, a one-room family homestead originally constructed in 1882.
• Village Creek State Park, southeast of Wynne. The golf course can be played by reservation only. Cabins are available for stays from Friday through Monday. The playground and swimming beach are still closed. Campers are required to have self-contained RVs.
Style on 06/02/2020
Print Headline: State parks reopen with regulations, reservations