Virginia State Parks plan to reopen campgrounds in time for Memorial Day

File photo of Douthat State Park
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RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — As Virginia moves toward Phase 1 of reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia's state parks will follow a slightly different timeline.

In Governor Ralph Northam's Friday briefing, where he outlined the newest restrictions and openings for Virginia businesses, he said Virginia State Parks, which have been open for day use throughout the pandemic, will gradually open up overnight facilities following a phased approach beginning with park campgrounds during Phase 1.

Later Friday afternoon, Virginia State Parks issued a statement that they are working toward a goal of reopening campgrounds by May 22, in time for Memorial Day weekend.

According to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, any guests planning to camp at Virginia state parks should check the website for the individual park for their own latest updates.

Anyone with camping reservations from May 22 onward does not need to take any action, as those reservations will remain scheduled.

Anyone wanting to update reservation information can go here and follow the prompts on the website.

Virginia State Parks say guests can also call the reservation center at 800-933-7275, but be aware that their customer service representatives are working at capacity and wait times will be longer than usual.

Up through May 13, no new reservations will be accepted, and at this time, all other overnight facilities, including cabins, lodges, and group campgrounds are remaining closed.

All other reservations until May 22 have been canceled and refunds have been automatically distributed through the Virginia State Parks customer service center.

They say all restrooms and campground bathhouses will reopen starting on May 21, though 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. “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. “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.

You can always find the latest updates on what is and isn't open at Virginia State Parks here.