Updated May 19, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.
As the prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) increases in Dane County, we are using the best information we have to take proactive steps to protect the health of our community. We know that outdoor spaces are critical to the mental and physical health of our community, now more than ever. As of now, all county park properties are open. To help keep them open, the public must follow public health guidelines (including physical distancing) in addition to regular park rules, such as not littering. We are monitoring how the closure of some state parks is impacting our park properties and will update this page if there are any changes or closures of Dane County Parks.
Some quick tips:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
To stay up-to-date on coronavirus (COVID-19), visit Public Health Madison & Dane County’s website.
Safer at Home
On May 13, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted to invalidate the Safer at Home order issued by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, effective immediately. Public Health Madison & Dane County issued a local order that incorporates the elements of the statewide Safer at Home order for City of Madison and Dane County. This order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
Outdoor activities, such as running, walking, fishing, biking, and hiking, are exempt from this order. This means you can continue to visit county parks and dog parks provided you comply with the physical distancing protocols described below. All Dane County Playgrounds are currently closed. Check with local municipalities for updates about municipal parks and dog parks.
Public Health Order Forward Dane Plan
Currently, all restrooms, vault toilets and portable toilets are temporarily closed. Amenities such as water and hand sanitizer are not available at this time.
The safest and easiest way to purchase permits is online. The parks office and all self-registration envelope stations are parks are currently closed. A few parks have electronic pay stations (details and locations).
Seasonal Facility Opening Schedule
The online Parks Opening and Closing Schedule lists all changes to opening and closing dates for park facilities and other recreation activities. Changes and alerts are posted on specific recreation activity pages:
At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services created a fact sheet (PDF) on how to keep your pets safe. The CDC is currently recommending that people try and avoid dog parks. If you decide to visit a dog park, please follow the precautions outlined on our dogs in parks page.
While at the park, it is important to maintain a physical distance of no less than six feet from each other and no groups of people. Try to keep interactions minimal especially with older adults, pregnant individuals, people with weakened immune systems, and people with underlying health conditions. Any one that may be in this group with increased risk of COVID-19 are encouraged to take extra precautions. By minimizing non-essential contact, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Multi-Use Paved Trails
Bikes should slow down and announce when passing. Pedestrians should stay to the edge and maintain a physical distance of 6 feet. When possible, avoid pinch points, such as bridges. If a park or trail is very busy, head somewhere else. We encourage people to wear a cloth face covering if visiting an area where you will be in close proximity of other people (such as at the dog park or biking/hiking trails). Public Health's Coronavirus FAQs page for more information on cloth face coverings.
Carry-in / Carry-out Of Trash and Waste
Until further notices, Dane County Park is asking park visitors to carry out their trash and waste. We are operating on a reduced staff, which is making it hard for us to empty waste cans, and we may need to start removing these from the parks until we return to normal operations.
Group Activities and How You Can Volunteer Individually
We are monitoring the situation canceling or postponing group activities and gatherings as needed. Please check our website if there is an event you were planning on attending. This includes many spring cleanup events that traditionally were sponsored by school groups, Friends groups, and volunteers. These events help us clean up after a long winter and prepare our parks, natural resource areas and lakes for the spring and summer seasons. One way you can help while you are in our parks this spring is to bring along a pair of gloves and a small garbage bag and pick up any trash you see along the trails and waterways. If you do, please let us know by filling out this short form so we know what areas have been cleaned.
Other park entities or groups are welcome to use or modify our COVID-19 signage. Editable files can be downloaded here.