New Melones camping, day use reopened; Natural Bridges open

Camping is now allowed again at Tuttletown Recreation Area on New Melones Lake.

The Tuttletown Recreation Area on New Melones Lake is now open for day use and camping, along with the popular Natural Bridges trail in Vallecito and its associated parking area, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) announced in a news release Tuesday.

Parking is limited on USBR land, and visitors will be turned away when lots fill up.

Visitors can purchase interagency, annual day use and boat launch passes at the New Melones Lake Visitor Center and Museum lobby from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The museum portion of the visitor center will remain closed and the bureau will implement building capacity limits to meet state facility reopening guidelines.

Facility restrooms may not be fully supplied with hand soap or hand sanitizer, and all visitors should continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, the bureau stated.

Both the Glory Hole and Tuttletown campgrounds have been closed since March 30, due to COVID-19, New Melones Park Manager Cynthia Davenport told the Enterprise June 24.

Davenport said secure gates did well to keep visitors out of the two recreation areas, but it was more difficult to enforce closures at the Natural Bridges trailhead and other outlying areas.

Staff reported that someone had cut a hole in a nearby fence to access the trail, Davenport told the Enterprise in a previous interview.

Davenport said since opening June 23, it’s been quiet, likely “because it is the middle of the week and very hot.”

Reopening the three recreational areas and facilities required approval from the White House, CDC and local public health authorities, the release states.

The Department of Interior, which governs the bureau, is working with federal, state and local authorities to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a “phased approach to increase access on a site-by-site basis.”

For health and safety of the public and some maintenance issues, according to the bureau, the following facilities will remain closed:

-Campgrounds and day use areas in the Glory Hole Recreation Area

-Tuttletown RV dump station

-Glory Hole fish cleaning station and RV dump station

-Administration Office and Visitor Center Museum exhibits

The New Melones Lake Marina off Glory Hole Road is open, and customers should contact the marina for more information at 785-3300.

To make a camping reservation at Tuttletown Recreation Creek Area, visit recreation.gov or call 536-9094.

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Reporter

Davis graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Environmental Studies. He covers environmental issues, agriculture, fire and local government. Davis spends his free time playing guitar and hiking with his dog, Penny.

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