South Carolina State Parks are open, but park operations and restrictions are changing as Covid-19 continues. In addition to capacity restrictions, masks are now required in South Carolina State Parks in any place in the park where park staff and the public congregate.
There are 47 state parks in South Carolina, many of which are vastly popular like Table Rock State Park, Jones Gap State Park, and Devils Fork State Park here in the Upstate.
State Park Health and Safety Rules and Guidelines
SC State Park has several new guidelines they will be following in order to keep both visitors and staff safe while allowing everyone to enjoy the outdoors.
Masks in State Parks
All visitors over 2 are required to wear a face mask in any facility at a state park that is either staffed by a park employee or is a place where the public congregates. These places include park offices and stores, restrooms, nature centers, etc. If you rent a facility such as a cabin or picnic shelter, you are encouraged to follow CDC and DHEC regulations for mask wearing and distancing but park rangers will not enforce the regulations in those situations.
Camp & Cabin Reservations
The parks are honoring existing camp and cabin reservations and they are taking new reservations. Visitor Centers have also opened but with physical barriers and other precautions taken to ensure social distancing. Retail stores are scheduled to open May 15th with the same precautions taken.
Playgrounds and Group Rental Facilities
All playgrounds and group rental facilities are now open.
Park Programs, Hikes, and Tours
All park programs, interpretive hikes, and tours of historic homes are suspended until further notice.
Restrooms will be open but will be closed periodically for cleaning so be patient.
We interviewed Paul McCormack, the SC State Parks Director, and asked him all our burning questions about the new guidelines:
Entering State Parks
SC State Parks was forced to shut down the parks after they saw record crowds and reached capacity in mid-March soon after the state implemented social distancing so they are implementing new regulations.
Parks initially limited capacity when they reopened but most are back open at full capacity. Even so, many of our areas parks are some of the most popular in the state and fill up fast, especially on weekends.
Before you go, be sure to check either the State Park Facebook or the website of the park you want to go to in order to check for closures.
If you have questions, call the park before you go.
Jones Gap New Rules
Jones Gap State Park is hugely popular here in the Upstate and has a small parking lot, so oftentimes if you don’t get there early, you have to wait to get into the park.
You can now purchase a parking spot ahead of time to be sure you can get in. Parking spots will be $5 to reserve plus the cost of admission. Even if you have a Park Passport, you still need to pay to reserve a spot.
You can also pay to reserve parking at Devils Fork State Park.
State Park Passport
If you bought a SC State Park Passport, you’ll get that month back in some form. Here’s what the park website says:
- When you purchase a new passport, we will add the extra month on to that passport at no charge.
- When your current passport expires, you may turn it in and we’ll give you another passport for the month missed at no charge.