5 ways to enjoy the outdoors while social distancing

Things are changing quickly. State, national and global responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are coming at us fast, and people are being asked to stay at home except for necessary reasons. Yesterday, we published a widely-shared op-ed on why people should not be congregating in the Parker area or treating it as a vacation, but rather heading home and following social distancing guidelines (stay 6 feet apart from anyone outside your small circle, base yourself at home, do not congregate in groups, go to stores only for essential reasons).

But what if you live in Parker, or have chosen to stay here for the ‘quarantine’ (social distancing) period, and want some things to do that will help you stay happy and sane? Here are 5 ideas. Remember, if you can’t do these while staying a safe distance, don’t do them at all. But if you can do them responsibly, they may help get you through!

(1) Hike some trails at Buckskin Mountain State Park

Recently named the most underrated state park in Arizona, Buckskin has scenic trails for miles. The Lightning Bolt Trail, Buckskin Loop Trail, Lamb Springs Trail, Copper Mines Trail and Market Trail offer amazing views, good exercise and options for every level. Some of them get you closer to the river, others go into some backcountry. Parks are considered an essential service and will be staying open for the duration of whatever social distancing orders may come, so take water and sunscreen, keep a good eye on the temp forecast, and have fun!

(2) Fishing or kayaking at Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge

The place is basically unique in the southwest. Bill Williams is one of the last places you’ll find naturally regenerated cottonwood-willow forest and it’s one of the last ecologically functioning riparian areas left. Spanish explorers wrote about it as early as 1598! Kayakers will find a place to launch and an easy route through the mouth of the river, with amazing mountains off to the right. Multiple docks are set up for fishing for striped and largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, and others with a valid Arizona or California fishing license. It’s also a good place for a leisurely stroll, with low-level lighted paths to help at dusk.

(3) Take-out food at a local restaurant

You can order ahead and pick up pizza, pasta, burgers, salads, sandwiches, desserts and much, much more in the Parker area right now. Call to check if your local favorites are available for pick-up orders! Three benefits to this activity: (a) take a break from cooking; (b) enjoy a delicious meal that reminds you normal life will return; (3) support the local economy in the downturn. Win-win-win!

(4) UTV ride to Swansea ghost town

It’s almost like the UTV, or side-by-side, was made for a moment like this. Orders to distance yourself from others socially mean you can’t congregate with groups of people. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get in a UTV with a family member you’re ‘quarantined’ with and enjoy a trail ride in the Parker area. One of the ones we recommend, especially if you haven’t been before, is the Swansea ghost town. It was a mining town that got going around 1862, and hit its heyday by around 1909 with 500 residents. There are still some structures there to check out, but make no mistake: the real value is the ride itself, on remote dirt roads and trails. Visit a point further down the Bill Williams River nearby too! (Tip: If you want to convoy with other families, stay further than 6 feet away when you get out, and use the standard radio contacts for banter and fun on the go.)

(5) Boat rides with quarantine partners

Finally, it’s what the Parker area is known for, and there are still safe ways to go boating in the current situation (at least for now). Go with your ‘quarantine partners’ only, people who you’re living with during the current period of social distancing. Find quiet times on the river. Disinfect surfaces. If you pull up at an establishment for food, remember what you’re touching, keep good distances in mind and consider taking your order to go. Floating is awesome at this time of year! Enjoy the natural beauty around you. If everyone can do it responsibly, it may remain possible for authorities to allow it to continue, unlike in other jurisdictions where people were ignoring the guidelines and boating got shut down.

So there we have it! Five ways to get through ‘quarantine’ with your sanity. If you have other suggestions that respect the social distancing guidelines, let us know in the comments.


  1. Trish Crossman

    Are there any hotels open out in Parker right now? We like the social distance on our boat

  2. Stay home!

  3. Donna Jean Rettmann

    What part of stay home don’t you understand?

  4. Wess McCoy

    Trish Crossman come out an try
    Parker ain’t ca.

  5. Trish Crossman

    Donna Jean Rettmann we stayed home ????

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