MI State Parks Open For Now, But Camping & Lodging There Are Closed

As the wide reach of the global pandemic continues to halt operations in many quarters, you can add state park campgrounds and overnight lodging facilities and shelters there to the list of closures…however, you can still go to nearby state parks during the shelter in place directive.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced that, in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21, they have closed state park campgrounds, overnight lodging facilities and shelters, effective now through at least April 13th. State parks and recreation areas, themselves, will remain open to provide residents with opportunities to get outdoors, provided all visitors adhere to the requirement for proper social distancing – at least 6 feet between yourself and another person – in all areas of the parks.

Gov. Whitmer issued the “stay home, stay safe” order Monday in an effort to “suppress the spread of COVID-19, to prevent the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed, to allow time for the production of critical test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment, and to avoid needless deaths.”

The DNR will not be able to honor camping reservations for dates between March 23rd and April 13th. Reservations for that time frame will automatically be canceled. Those reservation holders will receive full refunds, including the reservation fee paid at the time reservations were made. No cancellation/modification fees will be charged.

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Reservation holders will receive email notifications once cancellations are processed. Refunds will be applied to the original payment method.

For questions about reservation cancellations, call 800-447-2757.

Collective DNR closures, cancellations

Since March 13th, the DNR has announced a series of facility and event closures, cancellations and modification. Many public meetings have been postponed or moved to a webinar or conference call format. State parks, recreation areas, trails and other state-managed public lands are open, but with provisions to decrease the coronavirus risk to Michigan residents.

Follow the DNR’s COVID-19 response webpage for the latest closure information about facilities, events and meetings.

What the EO means to outdoor recreation

State and federal health officials repeatedly have pointed to the physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors, especially at a time when many are feeling house-bound. DNR Director Dan Eichinger stressed that while Michigan state parks and recreation areas, state boat launches, state forests and other state-managed resources are open to help meet those needs, he wants to make sure those options remain open.

Eichinger says, “Gov. Whitmer’s executive order requires people to follow the CDC guidelines and stay at least 6 feet away from other people when outside of their own households, to the greatest extent possible,” and adds, “We want residents to use and enjoy our public outdoor spaces, but we ask them to do so responsibly and safely, whether in a forest, on a trail or in a parking lot.”

Eichinger concludes, “If it becomes evident that people are not practicing effective social distancing while visiting these state-managed resources, we will close them to protect the health of our visitors and our staff.”

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.