Climbing and Hiking in the Time of Coronavirus

The Coronavirus is going to be an invisible but dangerous obstacle to enjoying the outdoors for a long time. Don’t tempt fate. Do everything you can to avoid catching and spreading the virus.
  • Idaho has a Stay-at-Home Order in place. Is it legal to hike and climb in the mountains? Yes, but be knowledgeable about what you can and cannot do.
  • Most, if not all, developed recreational sites in Idaho’s National Forests are CLOSED.
  • Many rural Idaho counties have asked that nonresidents stay away. Dan Robbins reports “The big complaint I heard from small towns like Fairfield, Marsing, etc. was related to people crowding their convenience stores. Bring all of the supplies that you will need from home to avoid putting unnecessary strain on local grocery stores or convenience stores that serve the local population.”
  • Perhaps most importantly, don’t ignore the importance of Staying Six Feet Apart–it is Absolutely Necessary. Oleg Bougri pointed out that “six feet is a minimal distance recommended by CDC. To be on a safe side, one could consider a more conservative approach for up to 27 feet distancing according to the latest research” which is found at this link: Turbulent Gas Clouds and Respiratory Pathogen Emissions
  • The most important sections of the Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order for hikers are excerpted below. The quotes demonstrate that hiking and peakbagging are acceptable:

Do I have to stay home and inside, or can I go outside for exercise and recreation?

Outdoor activity near your home is OK but you should keep a distance of 6 feet from people outside of your household. Social distancing requirements are in effect on paths, trails, sidewalks, riverbanks, beaches, parks, and anyplace outside on private or public property where people might gather. Crowds are a no-no.

Recreation

Question: Can nonresidents recreate in Idaho and can Idahoans recreate across the state?

Answer. Yes, but those considering doing so should consider carefully before traveling outside of your home county. The order allows individuals to “engage in outdoor activity” which includes but is not limited to walking, hiking, bicycling or running. However, people recreating should follow these recommendations:

  • You must follow the Social Distancing Guidelines
  • Day trips near your home are strongly encouraged such as hiking and biking. Minimize the travel distance from your home and spread out. If a trailhead is congested, consider finding another trail or going during off-peak hours.
  • Check before you go. Many campgrounds and trails may be closed. If you are going hunting or fishing, be sure to check the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s Seasons and Rules.
  • Bring all of the supplies that you will need from home to avoid putting unnecessary strain on local grocery stores or convenience stores that serve the local population. Be sure to pack out all of your trash and leave your space clean.
  • Outfitting and guiding is permissible so long as social distancing protocols and recreation guidelines are followed.

Additional Resource Links