State parks and outdoor facilities continue to reopen in Arkansas.
On Friday, May 29, Arkansas Secretary of Parks, Tourism and Heritage Stacy Hurst announced that the state’s campgrounds will reopen for tent camping on Monday, June 1, along with the park system’s bathhouses.
Arkansas’ state park system has been gradually reopening since early May. At the beginning of April, Hurst announced that state parks would be limited to day use only. On May 1, the state began allowing overnight camping for individuals with self-contained recreational vehicles (RVs). Camping expanded on May 15 as the state park system opened state park lodges and cabins.
Hurst said the park system has developed new processes to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the bathhouse facilities.
“With the responsibility to keep our facilities clean and safe for visitors and staff, limiting access has been a necessity,” she said. “But now we have the PPE needed to protect our employees and a good system in place to feel confident that we can reopen these facilities in a safe manner.”
In addition to the state parks, national parks have also begun the reopening process. The Buffalo National River is increasing access to visitors and has reopened for hiking, floating and camping on Friday, May 29. The activities/resources available to campers include overnight stays, including campgrounds and backcountry camping, RV dump stations, group campsites and pavilions (limited to 50 people). Buffalo Point cabin rentals will reopen on Monday, June 1.
However, several Buffalo River facilities will reopen closed. These facilities include the Buffalo National River headquarters in Harrison, Tyler Bend Visitor Center, Steel Creek Visitor Contact Station, and the Buffalo Point Visitor Contact Stationand campground shower facilities.
Hot Springs National Park is also reopening access with Gulpha Gorge campground and public restrooms on Bathhouse Row reopening on May 29. Trails, road and thermal and cold water foundations, Visitor services on the front porch of the Fordyce Bathhouse, Restrooms at the top of Hot Springs Mountain and Gulpha Gorge day use area are also open. The Fordyce Bathhouse Bathhouse and Museum and the administration building remain closed.
According to Hurst, most of the campgrounds managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened on Wednesday, May 20.
“One that that has been underscored for me as we’ve tried to navigate this public health emergency is that Arkansans deeply value their access to nature and the out of doors. And that might be true now more than ever,” Hurst said.