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Staying Connected While Social Distancing   

A note from our CEO, Rob Hutsel: 

We hope you and your friends are okay during these challenging times. We take the safety of our volunteers, staff and River Family very seriously, and so we have cancelled all of our events normally open to the public through at least the end of March 2020. Our office remains closed to the public and those of us who can are working remotely.


However, we hope to stay connected and continue to inspire and be inspired through connections with you and our community during this time! We have put together these resources to entertain, educate and inspire you to feed your passion. I know I speak for the whole staff when I say... we can't wait to see you back out on the River! And in the meantime, stay strong and be well.


Page last updated: 11/13/2020


Social Media

Stay connected with us on social media!  We post regularly on Facebook and Instagram. 

Follow us using the links below! 

 @sdriverpark    @sandiegoriver


Explore On Your Own

For now, the current advice from health professionals encourages safe, cautious recreation outdoors for most people. We agree! Getting outside is good for the soul. Maintain social distance (listen to your doctor) and use the links below to check on access restrictions.

*We wil try to keep this updated, but if you notice something inaccurate, please email us!

Tips for safe recreation!

1. Always check most up-to-date status before you go.

2. Maintain 6 feet of distancing on trails. Be mindful of crowded parking/staging areas, restrooms, viewpoints, and passing other groups. (Now is a great time to explore something less popular!)  Follow County guidance for public places and wear a cloth face covering.  Click here for DIY provided by the CDC.    

3. Plan ahead to avoid restrooms, if possible. Bring hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes.  Avoid water fountains, bring your own reusable water bottle.

4. Haul out your trash. This means leave no trace (as usual), but also try to avoid park trash receptacles to prevent contact and avoid straining limited maintenance staff.


City of San Diego neighborhood parks, community parks, and trails:   

 OPEN for passive purposes only (walking, jogging, or hiking) or for members from the same household to congregate.

Most parking lots are open to full capacity.  Facial coverings and 6-foot distancing are required.



(Learn more: City of San Diego website)

City of San Diego Recreation Centers, pools, playgrounds and joint use fields (on school property):

These areas remain closed until further notice. 

Search park list for status.


remain closed 

(Learn more: City of San Diego website)

Santee's River Park:

River Trail including in Mast Park and Walker Preserve are open, with 6-foot distancing required, or face coverings required when distancing is not possible.

Visiting River Parks in Santee:

Dog parks, sports areas, restrooms, Mast Park disc golf, and picnic shelters are open. Parking is still limited to 50% capacity, and playgrounds remain closed. In addition, no picnic shelter rentals, no group/organized sports, and no group workouts/exercise equipment.

Picnic shelters, basketball courts, grassy areas are open for individuals, or family/household use, but no gatherings.


trails and parks open with some restrictions   (Learn more: City of Santee public notice)

Lakeside's River Park:

River Trail remains open




County of San Diego parks and trails:

County parks and trails have reopened, but playgrounds and some amenities are still closed. Masks are required when within 6 feet of another person at County Parks. Beginning June 12, campgrounds and cabin reservations are open, and the Santa Ysabel Nature Center is open.



(Learn more:

County of San Diego updates)

San Diego River Park Foundation Preserves:

Closed to first-time visitors, trained preserve volunteers permitted for maintenance and visit  in coordination with SDRPF staff.



(Learn more:

email us)


Cleveland National Forest / USFS trails:

Forest and trails remain open, and these have re-opened:

Three Sisters/Eagle Peak Trail, Cedar Creek Falls Trails (permits required), Inaja Memorial Picnic Site


(Learn more:

CNF website)


Have questions about other parks or recreation facilities?  Have information from a recent trip to share?  Contact us!



Education Resources For Kids

We're sure that sharing meaningful environmental science lessons for kids from the indoors is proving challenging for many parents. Let our educators help!


We are bulding a catalog of distance learning activities, which will include videos, guided science and ecology activities, art projects, worksheets and ideas for the whole family. 


Click here to go to our Cool River Program - Distance Learning Resources.     



Watchlist (and Read-List and Listen-List) from our Staff

You probably already know that our staff is a passionate team of enviros! We've been preparing for sharing this curated list of movies, docs, and podcasts our whole lives, but usually too busy outside to share... the time has come! #finally



Map Head by Ken Jennings: recommended by Morgan, our data junkie, who says this is not specifically nature-focused, but great for map nerds, and we know you're out there!


Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols: recommended by Jenn, who has been interested in a book club for this book, if any readers want to chat at our next volunteer event post social-distancing!


Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer:  recommended by Ally for Krakauer's great writing, and the themes of mountains, climbing, adventure and man vs. nature.    


Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: recommended by Marina and Sarah. You'll wish this work of fiction was nonfiction so that the illustrated marsh ecology books were available in real life! Part ecology, part mystery and beautiful prose will help you spend some time outside in your imagination.


The Immortal Life of Heniretta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot:  recommended by Ally.  Fascinating study of the woman whose cells became one of the most important tools in medicine.  One of Ally's all-time favorites!         


On the Wing by Alan Tennant: recommended by Steffani, which tracks an extraordinary and never-before attempted effort to track the migration of the peregrine falcon.


Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold: recommended by Marina. A classic, the endlessly quotable Aldo Leopold will speak to your inner conservationist and explorer.


"Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.” -Aldo Leopold




Wild Ideas Worth Living: recommended by Sarah, who recommends subscribing to this whole podcast from REI Co-op full of inspirational interviews with outdoorspeople (and a host with local SD connections), but now's a great time for Episode 115. The Importance of Doing Nothing with Bonnie Tsui.


Dirtbag Diaries: recommended by Morgan, who suggests starting with Episode 137: Better Than I Found It.


Radiolab:  recommended by Ally, which has some great nature-themed episodes like Smarty Plants, Stranger in Paradise, Bigger than Bacon, Rippin' the Rainbow an Even Newer One, Goo and You, or From Tree to Shining Tree (Sarah loves this last one too!)



Streaming Now:

Dancing with the Birds: recommended by Steffani (streaming on Netflix), for when you need a little beauty... 51 minute documentary about the stunning displays of the birds of paradise.


Hidden Kingdoms: recommended by Steffani (available on AmazonPrime) features amazing footage of the earth's more miniature animals.


Blue Heart: recommended by Sarah (now streaming free on YouTube), released by our friends at Patagonia featuring a community's fight to save a river in the Balkans.


The Frenchy: recommended by Sarah (streaming free on YouTube), is a light-hearted documentary about an 82-year old athlete and his epic adventures and contagious laughs, a feature of last year's Banff Film Festival and now streaming for free.


Wall-E:  recommended by Ally (streaming on Disney+) heartwarming animated movie great for kids and adults alike with a great environmental protection undercurrent.


Whale Rider:  recommended by Ally (streaming on AmazonPrime) about a Maori girl becoming a leader of her village.      



Other Great Nature Resources

Here are some other resources, both from our team and other partners, to help keep you inspired and give you your daily dose of nature!


iNaturalist video tutorial: our preserve management team created this video to help you learn to use the iNaturalist app, a great tool for citizen science, as well as a digital field guide for species identification.


County of San Diego Parks Department's Virtual Recreation Center


National Environmental Education Foundation's Environmental Education at Home Activities have great backyard and home science and exploration activities for K-12, plus virtual "field trips" (which we recommend for adults too!)     


Outdoor Research put together this list of 50 outdoor adventure films (mostly streaming free) to get us through. Some are on our staff list above, but when you make it through that, move on to this list!   




We know, we miss you too. But we are all doing our part to flatten the curve, and that means that our volunteer gatherings have been significantly modified, and tfield events are currently not open for new volunteers.  


In the meantime, we're keeping a list of some volunteer events you can do from home or on your own! Click here to see the list of Virtual Volunteer Opportunities. We hope you'll consider volunteering from home!


Have other amazing skills and ideas that may benefit the River from home?  We're interested!  Email us.       


We can't wait to be back out on the River with you!







Urgent Appeal:

Two of our programs are being adapted to meet vital essential services. Nature connections are more important that ever!


Can you help us

continue to advance this important mission?