Out of an abundance of caution and in response to recent events, Missouri State Parks will modify operations at five state parks to address overcrowding and concerns regarding public safety. The modifications, including the temporary closure of four of Missouri’s state parks and partial closure of one additional park, go into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 2, and are scheduled to continue until April 30.

The new measures will further implement the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’re continuing to evaluate the situation and make adjustments to operations as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves,” said Carol Comer, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “As conditions and recommendations change, we will make additional closures as needed. Before heading out to a state park, we encourage our citizens to check https://mostateparks.com for advisory updates and the latest actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The operation modifications, effective at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, include the following:

Castlewood State Park will close.
Elephant Rocks State Park will close.
Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site and Park will close.
Weston Bend State Park will close.
St. Joe State Park will close the off-road vehicle riding area.
Gates to individual parking lots may close at all state parks when the lot reaches capacity.

“We understand the importance of physical activity and getting outside during this unprecedented time,” said Mike Sutherland, director of DNR’s Division of State Parks. “However, we have to make changes to operations at some facilities, due to overcrowding, to ensure public safety.”

If you want to head outside, you can still enjoy the many open spaces in your local community while limiting travel. Please make sure you are following the physical distancing and safe hygiene recommendations.

“If a park looks full, then it is,” said Sutherland. “Whether you’re inside or outside, you must follow the guidance provided by the CDC and Governor Parson: Keep 6 feet between you and others, avoid crowded areas, wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, cover your mouth and nose with your elbow when you cough or sneeze, and, most importantly, stay home if you are sick.”

Missouri State Parks encourages those who visit a park to carry hand sanitizer, soap, wipes and drinking water as services may be limited. In addition, please be considerate of others and the Missouri State Parks staff who continue to serve the public.

MoDNR and the Missouri State Parks team are closely monitoring the progression of COVID-19 and its effects in Missouri. While safety, stewardship and service are all very important to Missouri State Parks, safety is our top priority.

Missourians and park visitors are encouraged to review information provided by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services as it relates to COVID-19.

For the latest updates on Missouri State Parks’ response to COVID-19, visit https://mostateparks.com/response.

For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit https://mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

If you have any questions, please contact Missouri State Parks at moparks@dnr.mo.gov.