Texas no longer has a stay-at-home order, but you need a reservation if you want to go hiking in Austin. I tried to book myself a spot — here’s exactly how it works.

Image
You need a day pass to enter Commons Ford Ranch, Walter E. Long, and Emma Long Metropolitan parks. Alison L./yelp
  • Austin parks closed on Easter weekend to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and then again a couple of weekends after due to overcrowding, but there was no blanket rule requiring all parks to close.
  • Texas’s stay at home order expired on April 30, and now three popular Austin parks are now requiring day passes to enter from Thursday through Sunday because of increased outdoor activity amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Here’s how you can make reservations between one and 14 days in advance with Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department website. Here’s how. Those without access to a device or internet can call 512-974-6797 for assistance.
  • I tried to book a spot for myself last week and could only find availability for several weekends away.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


Three Austin parks are requiring reservations to enter on Thursday through Sunday each week. A limited number of passes will be available each day.

Image
Emma Long Metropolitan Park. Katie H./Yelp

Source: The City of Austin


The parks, Emma E. Long, Commons Ford, and Walter E. Long, are known for their hiking trails and lake access.

Image

Source: The City of Austin, Time Out, Austin Parks,City of Austin


To reserve a spot in an upcoming weekend at one of these parks, you’ll have to go online to the City of Austin website. One person can reserve up to two spots.

Image
Commons Ford Metropolitan Park. Candice D./Yelp

Source: The City of Austin


First, search austintexas.gov/parks in your web browser on a smart device, and scroll down to “Parks and Recreation Closure info.” Tap or click it.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


There’s a May 14 update further down the page detailing the new policy. Click the link in the update that says “online registration system.”

Image

Source: The City of Austin


When you get to the online registration page, tap or click “Browse Tickets/Park Entry Day Passes” to get a pass to enter the park on a specific date.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


Once you’ve done that, you’ll be given the option to search for tickets by date.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


The site will then display a list of available tickets from each park. Tap or click add to cart on the park you want to reserve.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


At this point, you’ll be asked to log into the side. If you don’t have an account with Austin Parks and Recreation, you’ll be prompted to create one.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


For your account, you’ll need to come up with a username and password.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


You will have to fill out some personal information. The required information to fill out is in red letterings, like your first and last name and address.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


Once you make your account, you’ll be asked which day you want to reserve your ticket for, and how many tickets you want. You can reserve a maximum of two tickets.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


At this point, you may be told there are no more tickets available for your selected date. I tried to book some tickets for myself and could only find tickets available for two weekends away.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


If this happens, go back to the previous screen and select another date. Repeat this process until you find an available date.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


Once you find an available date, this screen will pop up with a list of regulations. Scroll to the bottom of it and tap or click “Continue.”

Image

Source: The City of Austin


Doing this will add the tickets to your shopping cart.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


Scroll to the bottom of your shopping cart to check out.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


At this point, you’ll need to fill out some of your information again.

Image

Source: The City of Austin


After you enter your email address, tap or click “Submit.”

Image

Source: The City of Austin


Your pass will be sent to your email address. Print it out and bring it with you to the park.

Image
This is what the pass looks like. Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Source: The City of Austin