As we all adjust to the spread of COVID-19, it’s vital that we adhere to CDC recommendations to not travel. “Can I still go outside,” you ask? The short answer is yes if you practice social distancing—maintaining six feet of personal space. Here’s what you must do to stay safe and keep others safe while enjoying the great outdoors.

Getting some fresh air is fine—as long as you follow some key recommendations.


Be responsible and make good choices. Walk your dog, fish a quiet river or take a stroll, run or bike ride either alone or within small groups (less than 50 when social distancing is possible). Or find a low-key place to go birding or watch spring wildlife.

Be aware of your impact on local community resources while recreating. Plan to take all the food, water and gear you’ll need while you’re out. If recreating means you’re stopping at a gas station or a grocery store, think about how it may impact community resources and make a decision accordingly. 

Maintain a safe distance from people as well as wildlife. Photo: Shutterstock


You may want to think twice about recreating right now, but if you do head out, keep some things in mind. While some of Western Montana’s parks, forests, rivers and trails for hiking, running and biking are open, some recreation areas are closed. Please adhere to posted closures and restrictions. Seek out less populated areas and try to avoid peak recreation times. If a place looks busy or the parking area is full, move on to another location. Also, this isn’t the time to test your limits; rescue personnel are minimally staffed as many are on the front-line of the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s other important tips to recreate responsibly:

+ Wear a Mask – Face coverings are mandatory in indoor public spaces and outdoors when social distancing is not possible (such as passing someone on the trail).

+ Reduce Crowding – Don’t linger at the trailhead.

+ Control Your Dog – To reduce physical contact and pick up dog waste.

+ Stop and Wait – Step off the trail if someone needs to pass you. Stop and wait on the side of the trail, recreating off-trail damages the land. The uphill hiker has the right of way.

+ Keep Moving – Don’t stop on the trail

+ Hike Single File – Only hike with people you live with.

If you run into an area that’s closed, relax and save it for another day. Western Montana’s not going anywhere. Photo: Brian Christianson


 + Stay up-to-date on travel regulations and the COVID-19 situation using reliable sources like the CDC and the Montana Department of Public Health.

 + Plan ahead to ensure businesses and attractions are open.

+ Be respectful, kind, patient and prepared.

 + Continue to monitor the situation, and adjust plans when necessary.


 + Wear a mask. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

 + Practice physical distancing.

 + Wash your hands frequently. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

 + Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue; dispose promptly; wash your hands.

 + Stay home if you’re sick.

 + Adhere to additional local health requirements that may be required at your destination.


We’ll get through this challenging time, but, in the meantime, please do your part and remember, when and where it makes sense to, take deep breaths of that fresh mountain air.

Please check Western Montana COVID-19 travel updates for the most up-to-date information on recreating in the area and follow Leave No Trace Recommendations for Getting Outside During COVID-19. At this point, Montana is in Phase Two of Reopening. Many businesses are still closed or have limited hours. If you have questions or concerns about a future trip you have planned, our team and on-line visitor resources are fully operational and can be reached during normal business hours. You can also check for the latest.

If you, or someone you have come into contact with, are experiencing symptoms, please stay home and follow guidelines to help prevent spread of the virus.

This is an evolving situation. Recommendations are changing daily. You can stay up to date with the most current information from the CDC.

This blog was last updated on August 12, 2020. For the most recent information please go to

March 30, 2020

Related: COVID-19, Montana, Outdoor Fun, Uncategorized, Vacation


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