By Jon Crowley
March 20, 2020 – With many counties and even states mandating “stay-at-home” in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) some off-roaders are looking to load up the RVs and Toy Haulers and head out into the outdoors and maintain social distancing while getting some riding in. But before you make the trip, it is best to do a little homework to make sure the area you are heading to is still open.
The other thing to take into account is things are rapidly changing. My wife and I had decided to pack up and go explore Utah during this pandemic. While we in the middle of the trip, we got word that our next destination was closing down. We were in Torrey, Utah and had planned to be in Moab for a few days staying at an RV Park when we got the news. The measure applies to all overnight lodging in Grand, Carbon and Emery counties. Overnight lodging includes RV parks, private campgrounds, public land and private rentals, including Airbnb.
The Easter Jeep Safari was canceled and Rally on the Rocks scheduled for May is in limbo waiting to see how this pandemic sorts out.
So if you want to get into Moab to do some riding, that is currently allowed, but you cannot stay anywhere near Moab unless you are a resident. Think this only affect Moab? Think again.
Utah State Parks
As of March 27, the Governor of Utah issued an order that Utah State Parks are to remain open; however, only residents of the county the parks are located in will have access to them.
Sand Mountain, Nevada
Sand Mountain has been closed by the BLM to all visitors until further notice.
The Sand Mountain Recreation Area is temporarily closed until further notice.The public may continue to enjoy BLM…
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday evening announced he’s enacting a “statewide order” for its nearly 40 million residents to “stay at home,” a wide-reaching measure for the most populous state in the country as the coronavirus spreads. This has affected camping at Oceano Dunes SVRA:
TEMPORARY CLOSURES — California State Parks temporarily closed all campgrounds in the state park system to support state and local efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Camping reservation holders will be contacted via email for refunds.
As of today, non-campground outdoor areas of parks, including trails and beaches, remain open. Visitors are reminded to practice social distancing and maintain at least six feet between other visitors and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
As of March 27, Oceano Dunes is now closed to day use as well.
California State Vehicle Recreation Areas (SVRA)
California SVRAs are still open, but camping is not allowed. According to the CA State Parks website, camping is NOT allowed at Ocotillo Wells SVRA! Go directly to the link above for most up-to-date info.
Meanwhile farther north at the Oregon Dunes, all campgrounds at state parks and forests have been closed to halt spread of coronavirus. State agencies that offer camping will gradually shut down all campgrounds while allowing a grace period for people currently camping or that already had reservations at Oregon’s 50 state parks through April 2. After April 2, all state campgrounds will be completely closed. That decision remains in place until May 8. Most private campgrounds are not affected so far.
Little Sahara, Utah
The BLM closed the Little Sahara Recreation Area (LSRA) on March 26, after working closely with state and local governments to address public health concerns related to COVID-19. This closure is also consistent with the State Public Health Order issued by the Utah Department of Health. The closure is effective immediately and will remain in effect until such time as conditions allow for safe use of the recreation area. The BLM’s number one priority is to protect the health and safety of staff and visitors to our recreation areas and facilities.
The BLM continues to collaborate with state and local governments to plan and implement the closure and to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. On busy weekends in the spring, LSRA may receive up to 30,000 visitors, large camping groups, heavy use of public facilities, and significant employee-public contact. During the weekend of March 20-22, the LSRA received approximately 15,000 visitors.
The temporary safety closure order can be viewed online at: https://www.blm.gov/learn/interpretive-centers/little-sahara-recreation-area
Imperial Sand Dunes
As of March 27, BLM has closed Gecko Road and Osborne Overlook.
All other areas remain open.
The National Forests in North Carolina Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) trail systems will be temporarily shut down until May 15, at which time the situation will be reevaluated. This applies to the following OHV areas:
- Croatan National Forest – Black Swamp OHV Area
- Uwharrie National Forest – Badin Lake OHV Area
- Pisgah National Forest – Brown Mountain OHV Area
- Nantahala National Forest – Wayehutta OHV Area
For more information, click here.
Getting yourself outdoors seems like a great idea during this crisis, but things are changing so rapidly that you should be prepared for change. Do some research before you load up and head out. It certainly appears that California off-roading on State Park land is being the most affected. If you want to escape, I’d suggest somewhere not so popular to setup camp…