MINNESOTA – The DNR recently updated guidelines for outdoor recreation options during Minnesota’s stay-at-home order.

The following guidelines are for outdoor recreational activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, based upon Governor Walz’s Emergency Executive Order Allowing for Safe Outdoor Recreation. The guidelines address public health protection measures for both authorized outdoor recreational facilities and the general public. Authorized outdoor recreational facilities do not include facilities that involve gatherings or people in close proximity, such as mini golf, pools, commercial outdoor race tracks, zoos, and concert venues.

Guidelines for the public

Time spent outside provides many benefits. We encourage local day use of parks, trails and other outdoor recreational facilities as a good way to stay healthy, reduce stress, and enjoy time with members of your immediate household. However, it is essential to follow the guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health (see Protecting Yourself and Your Family  and Strategies to Slow the Spread ) and the Centers for Disease Control (see Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities ) and observe the following practices while recreating outdoors to protect yourself and others and slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Consistent with state and federal guidance to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our neighbors, stay as close to home as possible and avoid unnecessary travel. This is not the time to be traveling long distances to recreate. Cherished outdoor traditions further from home will be there for you later, after the public health situation has eased.
  • For purposes of outdoor recreation under current law, staying close to home means:
    • No overnight stays.
    • Bring all needed supplies with you.
    • Only go as far as you can travel and return on a single tank of gas or single charge for EV drivers.
  • Practice social distancing (stay at least 6 feet from people from other households). This isn’t just for parks and trails – it is also essential at boat launches, fishing piers, and hunting lands, and anytime you leave your home.
  • “Household” means all the people living in the same home or residence, including a shared rental unit or other similar living space.
  • If it is not possible to maintain social distancing throughout an activity – such while playing a sport like basketball or volleyball where participants are often in close proximity – then you should only participate in that activity with members of your household.
  • Keep in mind that even activities and sports that are typically thought of as non-contact – such as doubles tennis or pickleball – may require modification to follow social distancing practices (e.g. pairing only with a member of your immediate household).
  • Do not host or attend gatherings with people who aren’t members of your immediate household. This includes gatherings like outdoor cookouts or barbeques, because those types of gatherings could spread COVID-19.
  • Explore the range of nearby public lands available to you. If you arrive at a park, water access site, or other public recreation land and see that it is busy, choose a different option. This will allow you to maintain social distancing, and reduce impacts on staff and resources. Also, consider visiting at off-peak times, such as mid-week, or early or late in the day on a weekend.
  • Do not carpool to outdoor recreational activities with people other than those in your immediate household. Similarly, only use equipment that is sanitized between uses and maintain social distancing when around people from outside of your household.
  • If you rent recreational equipment – such as a canoe or bicycle – consider bringing your own protective gear like lifejackets and helmets. These sorts of “soft goods” are more difficult to sanitize than non-absorbant surfaces that can be quickly washed or wiped down.
  • When enjoying recreational boating:
    • Only boat with those in your immediate household and maintain a minimum six-foot distance from other boats at all times. Beaching or rafting with other boats is not allowed.
    • When launching/loading your boat, give those ahead of you plenty of time and space to finish launching or loading before you approach.
    • Be aware that conditions at water access sites may differ from those encountered in previous years. For example, while DNR-managed accesses are open, spring maintenance is not completed and amenities such as courtesy docks will not be in place in some locations. Other public and private access sites may not be open.
  • Avoid congregating in common areas like trailheads, parking areas, overlooks, fishing piers, boat launches or fueling stations.
  • Avoid contact with shared amenities like playground equipment, picnic tables, and benches. Assume such equipment has not been sanitized. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if you do come into contact with shared amenities.
  • Respect signs limiting access or providing temporary direction regarding trail or site usage.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (including fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) should stay home and not engage in outdoor activities. For more information see CDC’s What to Do If You Are Sick .
  • Wear a manufactured or homemade cloth face covering when you leave your homes and travel to any public setting where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (g., indoor spaces like grocery stores), and follow face covering guidelines issued by MDH (MDH Guidance on When to Wear a Mask ) and the CDC. Note that cloth face coverings may help protect others from your respiratory droplets, but are NOT a replacement for social distancing. Social distancing must be observed even if face coverings are in use.
  • Know the latest information about what facilities are open. For DNR-managed parks and lands, consult the DNR website or call the DNR information center (651-296-6157 or 888-MINNDNR (646-6367). General questions may be referred to 651-296-6157 or 888-MINNDNR (646-6367), or to info.dnr@state.mn.us,