park landscape; Grayson Highlands State park

Overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains at Grayson Highlands State Park.

Employees at Virginia state parks are working toward a goal of reopening campgrounds for Memorial Day Weekend. The announcement to allow for the opening of campgrounds came Friday during Gov. Ralph Northam’s press conference, as part of the state’s phase one reopening strategy.

Northam announced that while state parks continue to be open for day use, overnight facilities will open following a phased approach beginning with park campgrounds. 

Dave Neudeck, communications and marketing director for Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, said in a press release that guests who had a camping reservation canceled with a check-in before May 21 and with a check-out after May 22 will have the portion of their stay after May 21 automatically rescheduled. Those who would like to stay during the available portion of their reservation must update their check-in and payment option. 

Guests who have camping reservations beginning May 22 and later do not need to take any action. Those reservations are still scheduled.

The fastest way to update reservation information is to visit www.reserveamerica.com and follow the prompts on the website, said the press release. Guests may also call the reservation center at 800-933-7275; wait times may be longer than usual.

The release explained that no new reservations will be accepted through May 13 and at this time all other overnight facilities will remain closed including cabins, lodges and group campgrounds.

All other reservations between now and May 22 have been canceled and refunds have been automatically distributed through the customer service center, wrote Neudeck.

Restrooms and campground bathhouses will open beginning May 21. Other park facilities, including camp stores, museums, picnic shelters and visitor centers, will remain closed.

"It’s with an abundance of caution that we take this step toward becoming fully operational. The safety of our guests and staff remain our highest priority,” said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Clyde E. Cristman in the press release. “Thank you to our park visitors for continuing to adhere to social distancing guidelines and limiting group gatherings to 10 or fewer." 

“This public health emergency has affected nearly every aspect of how we operate,” said Virginia State Parks Director Melissa Baker, in the press release. “While we work to safely navigate through the weeks ahead, we are happy to open more of our facilities to the public who will benefit from the increased access to the natural and historical resources the parks provide.

“It remains very important that guests check the individual park’s website before their visit to get the latest park updates,” Baker added.

The most up-to-date information regarding available recreational opportunities at Virginia State Parks, may be found at www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/covid-19-update.

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