Our beautiful state parks will soon be returning to normal when it comes to capacity.

Texas State Parks have been operating at limited capacity for nearly a year now thanks to the ongoing pandemic. Just like other activities that attracted large groups of people, Texas State Parks had to cut back and limit capacity. Once things shut down, Texans were looking for alternatives and many tried turning to our local and regional state parks. Reservations for camping sites and daily admission were hard to come by. Just this past January we were lucky to get a reservation at Cooper Lake State Park South near Sulphur Springs, but we had to book it mid-November. Thankfully those days are behind us.

As of Wednesday (March 10th), Texas was reopened to 100% capacity, thanks to Governor Abbott changing his executive order, meaning more Texans have the opportunity to visit their favorite parks. While everything can open up, unfortunately it's not immediate. Some Texas state parks will continue to have capacity limits imposed on them for a while longer. Texas State Parks director Rodney Franklin says,

We’re excited to welcome more visitors to our parks. We want Texans to know that the safety of our visitors and our park staff is our top priority as we increase visitor capacity. Prior to COVID-19, and throughout the last year, our parks have seen growing visitation and our teams are working hard to accommodate those who want to get outside and experience the incredible natural and cultural resources our parks have to offer.'

Some parks are still recovering from damage caused by the polar vortex of mid-February. State crews are working quickly to get these parks fully operational. Carter Smith, Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says,

This time of COVID-19 has reinforced the power and criticality of providing quality, accessible, and affordable outdoor recreational opportunities for all Texans. Getting outdoors is essential for people’s physical and mental health, and Texas State Parks play a critical role in meeting this need.'

Reservations at many state parks are filling up quickly for the remainder of spring break and for the summer months. So if you're thinking about a day trip to Tyler State Park, an awesome local state park in my opinion, you might want to go ahead and arrange to get your day passes now.

Visitors can purchase day passes up to one month in advance, guaranteeing access to parks even during busy times. To purchase a day pass or to reserve a campsite, visit the State Parks Reservations page on the Texas State Parks website or call (512) 389-8900. Although the governor has lifted the mandatory mask mandate, park visitors are still strongly encouraged to wear mask (especially where there is going to be a large group of people) and remember to continue to practice other social distancing measures.

Get outdoor and enjoy your Texas State Parks.