North Carolina is home to 34 state parks and all are ready to welcome back visitors that are ready to escape the house after a year of quarantining.
ED CRUMP: For the past year, the great outdoors was one of the few places that people could safely escape from the confines of their homes. And here in the Triangle region, we were lucky to have an abundance of state parks close by.
--ventured into the great outdoors, did so for the first time. And many discovered they really liked it, pledging to continue to explore nature as the pandemic eases.
It's the first full week that state parks are open with all amenities-- beaches, boat ramps, and campgrounds. And as the weather continues to improve and restrictions are relaxed, state parks officials are warning of lines and long waits, especially at the largest parks like Jordan Lake.
But some pandemic restrictions remain in place, like masking and social distancing.
JAY GREENWOOD: We love to see them back. It was very difficult for us to see a time when we actually had to keep people out of parks. So we welcome all these visitors back in, but we also understand there will be a burden of how many people will want to get outdoors. And these campsites, these open areas are great to lend themselves to social distancing. We just have to be very careful, mindful of all the opportunities to social distance while we're out enjoying nature.
ED CRUMP: Jay Greenwood, the State Superintendent for 11 parks in the Southern District, knows his staff will never be able to strictly enforce social distancing and mask rules, and that's why he's asking park visitors to act responsibly and look out for others. He expects record crowds in the coming weeks as many of us try to shake off cabin fever at one of the safest places for families and friends to gather.
Ed Crump, ABC 11 Eyewitness News.