How to Enjoy Social Distancing in Nature

Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to be stuck indoors all the time.

Although you should follow all official health orders and guidelines for your local area, getting into the great outdoors amidst the coronavirus pandemic can be done safely – and there’s simply no denying it’s physical and mental health benefits.

Here’s how to responsibly enjoy social distancing outdoors during Covid-19.

Try Forest Bathing

Start simple. Forest bathing can be practiced by simply stepping outside your front door, although visiting an actual forest is best. This age-old technique is a type of nature therapy focused on slowing down your mind, being present in the current moment, and soaking in the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds of the forest around you. It’s a fantastic way to reduce stress and anxiety.

Start Local, Stay Local

As more outdoor activities open in your state, official guidelines still urge you to stay close to home, ideally within your county, at least for now. Start with quick trips to nearby forests, beaches, and other natural areas close to home. As things continue to reopen, expand to outings that require a single tank of gas roundtrip. This allows you to get out of town but minimize interactions with communities you pass through while traveling.

Have a Plan B (and a Plan C)

The U.S. Forest Service recommends coming up with at least one backup plan before heading out. For example, pick two or three different hikes in the same general area. This way, if one trail is too busy, you have a plan B and a plan C that are likely less so. Don’t be afraid to turn around and head home if all trails are too busy, although NPR claims that outdoor exercise and camping are low risk activities with proper social distancing.

Take up solo-outdoor hobbies

There are many outdoor hobbies and sports that don’t require you to be within 6-10 feet of other people. Hiking and fly fishing are great sports to get into and they allow you to enjoy the outdoors, while being socially distanced. For hiking, you don’t need much to get started, just a good pair of hiking boots and some nice hiking clothes. For fly fishing, a simple fly fishing combo set will get you in the sport for for as little as $150. Then you can spend time in the outdoors while taking up a new hobby and not being too close to others.


Recreate While Following All Official Guidelines  

Adhere to all official guidelines in your local area before heading outdoors. Make sure that wherever you plan to go is actually open and welcoming guests. Remember to minimize contact with others and avoid high-touch surfaces. If possible, travel outdoors on a weekday when trails and camping areas might be a little less busy. Safe outdoor recreation is possible but requires a little extra planning during Covid-19.

Go Dispersed Camping

Even as developed campgrounds have closed throughout the ongoing pandemic, dispersed camping has largely remained open on BLM land and in National Forests. Know that this style of wild camping is primitive and without any amenities. So, you’ll need to bring your own water, pack out all of your waste, and know how to go to the bathroom in the woods. RV campers should expect to boondock without any RV hookups. Our guide to dispersed camping has more information.

Bring the Outdoors into Your Home

Depending on what’s happening in your local area and with you personally, staying at home might still be your best bet. Our top tips on how to bring the outdoors into your home shows you how to get your nature fix while staying at home. My favorite method? Backyard camping in my Mock ONE hammock!

Look Ahead to the Future  

Even as outdoor recreation opens little by little, this summer will be much different than normal for nature lovers. But know that the outdoors will always be waiting for you. For many people, especially those in high risk categories, it might be best to just stay at home for now. To combat cabin fever during my long days at home, I’ve started to plan out future camping trips and make lists of all my dream camping locations!

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