Updated 4/23/20 at 2:11 pm
Enjoy the Outdoors Responsibly During this Period of Social Distancing
The James River Association reminds you that leaving your residence for the purpose of “Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals comply with social distancing requirements” is allowed per Governor Northam’s Executive Order 55. We continue to encourage Virginians to enjoy the outdoors responsibly during this period of social distancing. Most state and local parks and public lands remain open but services are limited, facilities are closed, and, in some instances, access restrictions have been implemented. We hope you find the information below helpful as you make plans to enjoy the outdoors.
Federally Managed Parks and Public Lands
The Blue Ridge Parkway is open but sections of the parkway are closed as are many facilities. The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed between Mileposts 0 and 13, which includes the popular Humpback Rocks area. The Peaks of Otter Visitor Center at Milepost 85.9 is also closed.
Colonial National Historical Park visitor centers are closed and Colonial Parkway is open to pedestrians and bicyclists. Colonial National Historical Park’s visitor centers at Jamestown and Yorktown Battlefield are closed. Colonial Parkway is closed to vehicular traffic between Route 199 and Jamestown Island but open to pedestrians and bicyclists. Visitors are discouraged from gathering on beaches along the James River.
Fort Monroe National Monument is open with restrictions. Beach access is limited to walking and exercise only, All public programming is suspended, and vehicular access to Fenwick Road north of De Russy Field is prohibited.
Recreational areas in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest are closed. Recreational areas, including visitor centers, campgrounds, picnic areas, restroom facilities, and trails are temporarily closed. Appalachian Trail trailheads and access points are also closed.
Richmond and Petersburg National Battlefield Parks are open but visitor centers are closed and facilities are closed. Richmond National Battlefield Park visitor centers are closed through April 30, 2020. Park battlefields and trails are open. Petersburg National Battlefield’s visitor center, contact stations, and restrooms are temporarily closed.
Shenandoah National Park is closed. Shenandoah National Park is temporarily closed to all public access.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges are open whenever possible. During the current public health emergency outdoor recreation sites at national wildlife refuges will remain open to the public whenever possible.
State Parks and Public Lands
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries sites are open. Wildlife Management Areas and Department of Game and Inland Fisheries lakes and rivers remain open. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is encouraging people to check with their local government for additional closures to parks, lakes, or piers. All hunting and fishing licence requirements and regulations are enforceable. Visit Go Outdoors Virginia to purchase a license.
Virginia State Parks are open for day-use activities only. Virginia’s State Parks remain open for day-use activities but visitor centers, indoor facilities, overnight facilities and restrooms are closed. This closure includes all restrooms, bathhouses, cabins, campgrounds, camping cabins, yurts, and some inland state park beaches. Parking fees are in effect.
Most publicly accessible Virginia Natural Area Preserves are open. 17 of the 20 Virginia Natural Area Preserves that offer public access are open to the public. The Channels Natural Area Preserve, Bull Run Mountain Natural Area Preserve, and Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve are closed.
Public beaches are closed with exceptions. In accordance with Governor Northam’s Executive Order 55, public beaches are closed. Exceptions include exercising and fishing. Some inland state park beaches are also closed.
The Virginia Capital Trail is open. The Virginia Capital Trail is open for outdoor activity, exercise, and essential transportation. The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation is encouraging users to practice social distancing on the trail by maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other users.
*Before visiting a local park, be sure to check with your local government for information about closures and use restrictions.
City of Chesapeake
Open spaces and trails in the City of Chesapeake are open. As of April 1, 2020, open spaces and trails in Chesapeake parks remain open to the public with social distancing of six feet encouraged. Park amenities including playgrounds, athletic courts, restrooms, skate park and dog parks are closed at this time.
Parks and trails in Chesterfield County are open with the exception of Henricus Historical Park. Parks and trails in Chesterfield County are open. All recreation centers, senior centers, historic sites, and Rockwood Nature Center are closed. Restrooms, playgrounds, picnic shelters, basketball courts, tennis and pickleball courts are also closed.
City of Hampton
Beaches in the City of Hampton are open for walking only. Beaches including Buckroe, Grandview, Salt Ponds, and Fort Monroe are open to walking and closed to swimming and sunbathing.
Parks in Goochland County are open. Parks in Goochland County are open but amenities are not regularly sanitized. Playgrounds are closed.
Parks and open spaces in Henrico County are open but facilities are closed. Parks and open spaces remain open in Henrico County but all recreation and parks buildings, including recreation centers and facilities are closed until further notice. Playgrounds, restrooms, shelters, dog parks, and tennis and pickleball courts are also closed.
City of Hopewell
Parks in the City of Hopewell are open but facilities are closed. Parks in the City of Hopewell but the Hopewell Community Center and all city playgrounds are closed.
James City County
Parks in James City County are open with restrictions and facilities are closed. Parks in James City County continue to be open but restrooms are closed. The Chickahominy Riverfront Park campground is closed and Jamestown Beach Event Park shall be used only for jogging, walking and fishing, swimming for exercise and paddlecraft launching only in designated areas. Sunbathing, picnicking, grilling, sitting and loitering on the beach are not permitted.
City of Lynchburg
Percival’s Island Natural Area is open. Percival’s Island is open and the Percival’s Island bridge recently reopened following renovations.
City of Newport News
Mariner’s Museum, Park, and Noland Trail are closed. The Mariner’s museum, 550-acre park, and five-mile Noland Trail are closed until further notice.
Huntington Park Beach is open.
City of Richmond
Parks in the City of Richmond are open but many facilities are closed. Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities is keeping parks open, encouraging park users to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other users, and discouraging large gatherings. All dog parks, athletic fields, picnic shelters, park houses, community centers, administrative offices, basketball courts, tennis courts, pickleball courts, skate parks, and playgrounds are closed. Additionally, the department will continue to close the vehicular traffic gates in Byrd Park on Strollers Lane, Westover Road, and Trafford Road on weekends. Vehicular traffic gates are also closed in Chimborazo Park.
Richmond’s James River Park System remains open with restrictions. Richmond’s beloved James River Park System, the most-visited riverfront park system along the James River, remains open but restrictions are in place. Activities such as walking, hiking, running, bicycling, and paddling are allowed. Swimming, sunbathing, and gatherings of people were banned by Mayor Levar Stoney. Effective Saturday, April 4, 2020, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities closed the parking lot at Tredegar, the parking lot at Pony Pasture, access to the Pipeline, and the W. 21st Street entrance to the park system on Saturdays and Sundays. Beginning at noon on Friday, April 10, new parking restrictions are being implemented along Brander Street near Ancarrow’s Landing, along S. 5th Street near Brown’s Island, and along S. 2nd Street near the Tredegar area. These closures and restrictions are intended to reduce crowding in the park system. Access to the Manchester Climbing Wall is closed. Park 14th, the new privately owned parking lot located at 325 S. 14th Street, is offering free parking for the time being. It’s an ideal place to park if you are planning to exercise along Richmond’s riverfront, fish from the Mayo Bridge, or use the 14th Street Takeout.
Let’s all do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by using our parks responsibly. While enjoying the outdoors, remember to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people and do not gather in large groups. Continue to be well and enjoy the outdoors during this beautiful time of year!
Justin Doyle is the James River Association’s Community Conservation Manager. The James River Association’s Community Conservation Program promotes conservation and responsible stewardship of our natural resources and helps communities realize the benefits of a healthy James River.