California State Parks reminds outdoor enthusiasts that winter recreation can be hazardous. Every year, thousands of individuals and families enjoy California’s winter season by playing in the snow, fishing, walking/hiking a trail, boating, off-highway recreation or visiting historical sites. The recent winter storms have changed the state’s outdoor landscape with snow in many higher elevation areas and many of our waterways have more water. While many may be eager to enjoy this new landscape, the department reminds outdoor enthusiasts to properly plan for their outings by checking road conditions, site destination availability, the weather, and by enjoying the outdoors safely with everyone.
Below is some helpful information for outdoor enthusiasts for this year’s winter season:
Check Road Conditions and Site Destination Availability
As a result of the recent storms, some state parks were closed or have partial closures, and some roads leading to parks have been closed.
As of today, nearly all state parks impacted by the storm have reopened.
Visitors may continue to experience some limited closure facilities, trails, roads, campgrounds, etc. as department staff work to repair damage from the storm and flood waters recede.
Visitors are advised to call their destinations ahead of time or visit California State Park’s webpage for availability. Road conditions and winter driving tips can be viewed online on Caltran’s website.
Check the Weather
Check the weather before you leave.
Make sure your equipment is appropriate for the weather expected.
If heading to the snow, take tire chains.
Actively supervise children in the outdoors, giving them your undivided attention.
Know the Water
Flood conditions can result in swift and cold river flows that can create treacherous conditions for all recreationists – waders, swimmers, paddlers, boaters, anglers and even hikers resting at the water’s slippery edge. Use precaution and do not enter hazardous conditions.
Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface. Years of drought have allowed trees and shrubs to grow in river beds and banks. If conditions seem hazardous, postpone your outing or find out if guided trips are available in your area.
Cold water can be dangerous. It reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature. Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and disorientation. This may confuse swimmers, causing them to venture deeper into the water.
If you do decide to go boating, wear a properly-fitted life jacket. Conditions can change quickly in open water and even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming. Wearing a life jacket can increase survival time and provide some thermal protection against the onset of hypothermia. Most importantly, it can keep you afloat until someone else can rescue you.
There are 19 SNO-PARKs in seven national forests.
Season runs November 1 to May 30. Day use fees are $5 per car and a season pass is $25.
Visitors have access to areas for general snow play and other activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. Some locations offer staging areas and access to groomed trails in National Forests for over-snow vehicles such as snowmobiles.
Visitation often exceeds parking capacity and facility amenities. Parking is on a first-come, first-served basis at all SNO-PARK sites. No refunds are issued if the SNO-PARK is full. Please be patient.
Carry a shovel and tire chains.
Park in designated areas and drive carefully within SNO-PARK sites.
Watch for pedestrians.
Do not build campfires on paved areas.
Do not litter SNO-PARK sites. Take your trash with you when bins are full.
Drink plenty of water.
Let someone back at camp or at home know where you are going and when you plan on returning.
Do not walk off-trail or enter closed areas.
Wildlife lives in all of our state parks, even near urban areas.
Hike with a friend or family member.
Off-Highway Vehicle Safety
Always wear a helmet and goggles when riding off-highway vehicles.
Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
Supervise riders younger than 16; dirt bikes are not toys.
Never permit youngsters to ride dirt bikes that are too tall or too powerful for their capabilities.
California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. Off-highway motor vehicle recreation, boating activities, horseback riding, on and off-road cycling, hiking, camping, and rock climbing are some of the recreational activities enjoyed in 280 state parks organized into 22 field districts throughout the state. Visit us at parks.ca.gov.