State Parks Are Back to Normal Hours for Holiday Weekend, But Capacity Limits Remain in Place
Beginning Saturday, all Wisconsin state parks will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. State parks will no longer be closed on Wednesdays. (Photo by Jessica VanEgeren)

Governor warns more to close if social distancing isn’t practiced, vandalism continues

As the weather is just starting to warm up in Wisconsin, 40 state parks and outdoor areas will close at the end of Thursday until further notice.

Gov. Tony Evers made the announcement Thursday morning, instructing the state Department of Natural Resources to close the parks to protect the health of residents due to the continuing spread of the coronavirus. 

In a statement, Evers said due to unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and an “abundance of caution to protect public health and flatten the curve” parks would be closing. He warned more parks may close if the public does not follow social distancing guidelines and continues to vandalize property.

“I wanted to keep state parks open for the public to enjoy during this challenging time which is why outdoor activity is listed as an essential activity under the Safer at Home order,” Evers said in a statement. “Unfortunately, growing difficulty with ensuring social distancing compliance, dwindling cleaning supplies and mounting trash are some of the challenges faced by our state parks staff. We have to address the growing public health and safety concern and protect Wisconsinites.”

A safer-at-home order took effect March 25. To date, 104 people have died in the state from the virus and 2,756 have tested positive, according to the state Department of Health Services. 

Park closures in the Southeast region include: Big Foot Beach State Park, Harrington Beach State Park, Havenwoods State Forest, Kohler-Andrae State Park, Kettle Moraine State Forest Lapham Peak, Loew Lake, Mukwonago River, Northern Unit, Pike Lake, Southern Unit, Lakeshore State Park and Richard Bong State Recreational Area.

Parks closing in the South Central region include: Aztalan State Park, Belmont Mound State Park, Blue Mound State Park, Cadiz Springs State Recreational Area, Capital Springs State Recreational Area, Cross Plains State Park, Devil’s Lake State Park, Fenley State Recreational Area, Governor Dodge State Park, Governor Nelson State Park, Lake Kegonsa State Park, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, Mackenzie Center, Mirror Lake State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Nelson Dewey State Park, New Glarus Woods State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park, Sauk Prairie State Recreational Area, Tower Hill State Park, Wyalusing State Park, Yellowstone Lake State Park, Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area, Pewits Nest State Natural Area, Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area and Dells of The Wisconsin River State Natural Area.

High Cliff State Park will close in Northeast Wisconsin.