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By Miriam Raftery

March 24, 2020 (San Diego) – As COVID-19 continues its rapid spread in San Diego and people eager to exercise or socialize crowd into outdoor public spaces, more are shutting down including most local beaches as well as many parks and trails.

Here’s the latest on what’s open and closed.

While it's best to stay home if you have space to exercise and get fresh air there, if you do venture out to public spaces, be sure to maintain social distance of six feet from anyone not in your famliy and so that the few remaining places to enjoy nature won’t be shut down, too. No groups of 10 or more are allowed anywhere in the state.  The Sheriff has said that those violating social distancing rules may be arrested, fined, and jailed.

All city of San Diego beaches as well as all city-owned parks and trails are closed. Mayor Kevin Faulconer warns that violators could face jail time: . Here in East County, that includes Mission Trails Regional Park and Cowles Mountain.

City reservoirs, which includes nearly all lakes in East County, are also closed. Lake Jennings, run by Helix Water District, is also closed. Santee Lakes, run by Padre Dam Municipal Water District, is also closed for day use and campers, except for those with existing cabin or RV  reservations.

Today,  Poway Mayor Steve Vaus announced, “In the interest of public safety Poway has reluctantly closed several destinations - Lake Poway, Blue Sky, Iron Mtn, Rattlesnake Canyon, skate park. Sadly, too many visitors failed to follow social distancing guidelines.”  Click here to read about alternative locations still open in Poway as well as some additional restrictions.

The County of San Diego has shut down some parks including all playground facilities and recreation centers, though some others remain open.  Below is the current list as of today, but check for any new updates at

  • Campgrounds at Agua Caliente, Dos Picos Guajome, Lake Morena, Potrero, Sweetwater Summit, Vallecito, William Heise County Parks (those already on site may stay through the end of their reservation)
  • Off-Leash Dog Areas at Borrego Springs, Lamar and Live Oak County Parks
  • Bike Skills Course at Sweetwater Regional
  • Skate Parks at Lindo Lake and Jess Martin County Parks
  • All outdoor fitness stations and play structures
  • All large reservable spaces within parks, to include pavilions, gazebos and group picnic areas

The following remain closed and/or canceled:

  • Community Centers in Fallbrook, Lakeside and Spring Valley
  • Teen Centers in Lakeside and Spring Valley
  • Spring Valley Gymnasium
  • Rancho Guajome Adobe and the Ranch House at Los Penasquitos
  • Temple Beth Israel at Heritage Park
  • Nature Centers at Goodan Ranch, San Elijo and Santa Ysabel
  • Privately booked events + leagues, classes and ranger-led programs through March

The Mt. Helix Park is closed until further notice, Krista Powers with the Mt. Helix Park Foundation announced today in an email. 

City of Santee parks, dog parks, parking lots, sports courts and playgrounds are closed, though trails remain open for now. Check for updates here:

Other East County Cities -- La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove--do not have park closure notices on their websites as of now, but that may change quickly with upcoming City Council meetings particularly if crowding occurs. 

The City of Coronado has closed bayfront parks, beaches, piers and boat launches.

The State Park Service has shut down all campgrounds statewide as well as museums, visitor centers and other popular indoor facilities. Some high-traffic parks are closed to vehicles.  However outdoor areas at most state parks  including trails and beaches remain open for now, such Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and Cardiff State Beach. Restrooms remain open but visitors are advised to bring soap and hand sanitizer with alcohol if soap is not available.

Cleveland National Forest shut down trails recently to Cedar Creeks Falls and Three Sisters Falls. Other portions of the forest remain open but services have gone online:

The Bureau of Land  Management, however, has waived day use fees temporarily to allow enjoyment of its public lands, though other fees such as for camping still apply: . BLM lands in California are listed at

Some tourist destinations, however, are specifically asking visitors to stay away during the COVID-19 crisis, such as Julian in San Diego’s mountains. Visitors in some areas may have trouble finding lodging; la Casa del Zorro resort in Borrego Springs is temporarily closed, for example.

The safest option for all Californians is to stay home as much as possible. If you have a  yard, exercise and get fresh air there. Walk your dog, jog or ride a bicycle in your own neighborhood to avoid spreading the virus to communities that don’t yet have it. 

If everyone stays home at least until the March 31 date in the Governor’s executive order, San Diego and our state have a better chance to flatten the growth curve of the pandemic, assure that there are enough hospital beds and ventilators for all who will need them, and save lives.  Doing this will also mean that stay at home orders are less apt to be extended for many months, so that we can all get back to leading our normal lives as soon as it is safe to do so. 




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