Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Parks

Parks Changes and Updates Due to COVID-19

Updated January 12, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.

Please do your part to help keep Dane County Parks open - practice physical distancing, keep dogs on leash unless at an off-leash dog park, and do not litter/vandalize. 

Dane County Parks is working closely with Public Health Madison & Dane County and following the guidelines outlined in the Forward Dane plan. We are updating our Facility Opening & Closing Schedule as things begin to gradually reopen. Please note that all park users must practice physical distancing a minimum of 6-feet separation from other people not in their household.  We encourage you to wear a cloth face covering especially in areas where you may come into closer contact, such as on trails, at dog parks, or while fishing.

Forward Dane Plan    Current Orders

Some quick tips:

  • We are unable to disinfect park amenities including playground equipment, tables or other surfaces so please come to the park prepared with items you may need, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes. We suggest bringing a plastic bag and using it like a glove if you need to touch any surfaces, such as gates. 
  • Use parks and trails early in the morning as they tend to get busier later in the day.
  • If a park or trail is very busy go somewhere else.
  • Follow physical distancing protocols of 6-feet distance from people that do not live in your household. We encourage you to wear a cloth face covering if you plan to visit an area where you will be in close proximity of other people (such as at the dog park or biking/hiking trails). Visit Public Health's FAQs page for more information on cloth face coverings.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
To stay up-to-date on coronavirus (COVID-19), visit Public Health Madison & Dane County’s website.

Purchasing Permits
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).


Facility Opening and Closing
The online Parks Opening and Closing Schedule lists all changes to opening and closing dates for park facilities, restrooms, fish cleaning stations, and recreation activities. Changes and alerts about specific recreational activities are posted on recreation activity pages: 


Dog Parks
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.

Physical Distancing
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.

Physical Distancing

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.

Trail Guidelines

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