Texas state parks expand capacity, remove group limits

Enchanted Rock (Pixabay)

Texas Parks and Wildlife announced Wednesday that parks across the state are beginning to return to normal capacity.

Masks are also no longer required inside park buildings or in areas where social distancing is difficult, though the department strongly encourages visitors to wear them.

The department also lifted restrictions limiting group sizes.

The announcement came after Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the statewide mask mandate and coronavirus restrictions on business, policies that had been in place since last summer.

“We’re excited to welcome more visitors to our parks,” said Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks. “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.”

While most parks were permitted to expand capacity immediately, some may keep capacity limits in place, either because they are still recovering from Winter Storm Uri and are completing repairs or have other operational considerations, according to the department.

Prior to the pandemic, many of the state’s most heavily-trafficked parks enacted capacity limits to ensure they weren’t overrun.

Though capacity is increasing at many parks, the department expects its most popular parks to reach capacity for both campers and day-use visitors during holidays and on weekends.

“This time of COVID-19 has reinforced the power and criticality of providing quality, accessible, and affordable outdoor recreational opportunities for all Texans,” said Carter Smith, Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). “Getting outdoors is essential for people’s physical and mental health, and Texas State Parks play a critical role in meeting this need.”

Day passes are available for purchase up to one month in advance. Travelers can reserve campsites or buy passes by visiting the State Parks Reservations page or calling 512-389-8900.

The department urges visitors, including annual pass holders, who have reserved day passes or campsites but are unable to visit to cancel their reservations, so others have an opportunity to visit the state’s parks.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.