LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Today was the first day in the Natural State for Park Lodges and Cabins to be open for use.
Several reservations are already booked ahead of the holiday weekend for lodging.
Tourism is the second biggest industry in the state and many of the state parks are already expecting to see a peak in business this weekend.
“I think it’s a super cool time to just be outside with your families since it’s hard to go anywhere else, it just gives you that liberty to enjoy the outside,” said Azalea Andrade a visitor of the state park.
Lodging in state parks is open along with marinas with boat rentals and fresh bait.
“We’re totally excited, I mean what we want is our guest to come to Arkansas State Parks. That is our mission, we want people to explore,” said Meg Matthews the Deputy Chief of Communications for Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
One Arkansan I talked to says its the perfect timing because folks are ready to get out.
“People are ready to get out and this is probably the safest way to do it if you’re already social distancing in your home with your family and going out here with your family it’s easy to be social distant in such a big space,” said Andrade.
There are a few changes for the parks across the state.
“Inside our facilities, we are asking people to wear masks and maintain that social distancing, now outside on trails you don’t have to wear a mask but we still ask you to maintain that social distancing,” said Matthews.
According to state officials, after someone stays in a lodge or cabin that room will stay vacant for two or three nights and be cleaned before it’s used again.
Swimming beaches, camper cabins, playgrounds, interpretive programs, and some trails are still closed.
“We shuttered some of the aspects of Arkansas State Parks because we thought it was the safest thing,” said Matthews.
We looked at some of the park’s websites, many are fully booked for lodging from this week until July.
“That’s crazy to me, but it doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Julia Sherwin a visitor of the state park.
And now that parks are back open, Sherwin says shes going to take advantage of it.
“Now that it’s open I fell like I appreciate being outdoors and going to state parks and national parks,” said Sherwin.
Click here for information on the exact trails that are closed.