The Pacific Northwest has never looked so inviting as Seattle grapples with the closure of all events, restaurants, and other services. Like most directives regarding the coronavirus, recommendations and requirements change rapidly. We'll update this post with the latest.
• Most indoor facilities are closed, including Mount Rainier National Park visitor centers, local ski resorts, and tubing hills. Update 3/25: Mount Rainier National Park is closed to car traffic.
• Rental facilities within Seattle have largely shut down, including all REI stores. Need some snowshoes? Facebook groups like the Buy Nothing Project connect nearby residents to each other, giving items without money changing hands—and loans can take place without close personal interaction.
• Washington State Parks are closed starting Wednesday, March 25, for at least two weeks.
• Many popular hiking trails around Seattle are closed, including Rattlesnake Ledge, Mount Si, Tiger Mountain (including Poo Poo Point), and Mailbox Peak.
• Playgrounds and sport courts are off-limits at King County and Seattle City Parks. Parking lots at the city's eight most popular parks (Green Lake, Lincoln, Golden Gardens, Seward Park, Magnuson Park, Gas Works, Alki Beach, and Discovery) are closed.
What You Should Do
Being outdoors is not exempt from social distancing—find ways to minimize or eliminate your interactions with others. And, of course, don't go anywhere if you're feeling ill.
• Go local. Find trails and green spaces close to home, like from our list of best city parks. How closely have you explored your neighborhood? Update 3/25: Note that park users are asked to stay at least six feet from other users. According to the county, "Pick-up games, picnics, and other large gatherings will not be permitted...Restrooms within parks will continue to be open to the public, and will be cleaned and sanitized frequently."
• Don't stop. If you're traveling, keep yourself inside a bubble. Translation: no breaks for gas, snacks, or gear far from home.
• Avoid popular areas. That means spots like Mount Si, Rattlesnake Ledge, and Tiger Mountain; now's the time to dig into the Washington Trails Association's deep well of trail ideas. Once you're at a trailhead or park, distance yourself from others. Update 3/25: See above regarding popular trails. Officials recommend trails accessible by walking or biking.
• Don't carpool. It's hard to turn off our desire to be environmentally friendly, but now's the time to keep it to family members in the same car.
• Put extra emphasis on safety. Not only are snow-covered areas still susceptible to avalanches (the Northwest Avalanche Center is still issuing forecasts and warnings), but springlike days don't forestall winterish nights, with temps dropping below freezing. With healthcare and emergency resources otherwise committed, extra caution can keep healthy adults from requiring Search and Rescue or first aid assistance. Update 3/25: NWAC is no longer issuing avalanche safety forecasts; travel in the backcountry is not advised.
And finally, be sure to follow city, state, or national directives. The great thing about the Pacific Northwest is that it'll still be there, as stunning as ever, when we've weathered this coronavirus storm.