Texas State Parks expand capacity, remove group limits in time for spring, summer camping

Masks will be strongly encouraged in parks

Old Baldy at Garner State Park (Photo Courtesy: tpwd.texas.gov)
Old Baldy at Garner State Park (Photo Courtesy: tpwd.texas.gov)

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Parks and Wildlife on Wednesday said state parks will return to normal capacity in time for spring and summer camping seasons.

Texas State Parks “have begun a strategic and thoughtful process of expanding capacity statewide” as Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to open the state 100% go into effect Wednesday, officials said. Along with those orders, Abbott has lifted the statewide face mask mandate.

TPWD said masks will be “strongly encouraged” for guests, especially when indoors or in areas where it’s hard to social distance from others, but they’re not required.

Previously, they were required inside public buildings and outdoors when it was difficult to stay six feet apart from others.

TPWD has also removed the limit on the number of people allowed in a group.

Before Wednesday, groups larger than 10, or any number that was not a part of the same family or household, were prohibited.

“We’re excited to welcome more visitors to our parks,” Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks, said in a news release. “We want Texans to know that the safety of our visitors and our park staff is our top priority as we increase visitor capacity.

“Prior to COVID-19, and throughout the last year, our parks have seen growing visitation and our teams are working hard to accommodate those who want to get outside and experience the incredible natural and cultural resources our parks have to offer.”

Officials said most parks will be able to expand capacity immediately.

Some parks, however, will still limit the number of campers allowed in.

TPWD spokesperson Megan Radke told KSAT that each state park has its own capacity limits, regardless of COVID-19.

“Capacity limits were already typical before the pandemic for some heavily-trafficked parks, to protect natural resources and to make the visitor experience safe and enjoyable,” she said.

Many parks typically hit the limit from both overnight campers and day guests on holidays and weekends.

Texas State parks closed at the beginning of April 2020 as the state began shutting down due to the first wave of coronavirus cases.

It opened for day use later that month and then opened for overnight camping in May.

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Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.