March 22, 2020

Dear APA members and friends,

By now, all of us have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — in our daily lives, through our family and friends, or by the announcements and news reports coming from around the world. This is the time of year when many of us look forward to trips we have been planning for months, returning to our favorite summer places as the snow melts, and the feelings of awe and gratitude we experience in our National Parks and public lands. Difficult as it may be to accept, it is becoming clear this year will be different. 


Protecting Vulnerable Communities

 While it is tempting to head for the desert or the mountains in pursuit of social distancing, the often tight-knit rural communities in these areas are especially vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. Many have relatively limited access to medical facilities and other vital resources. We ask that you play your part in protecting these gateway communities by limiting travel for recreational purposes. Stay local to play outdoors instead. 


Avoiding Popular Places and Times

Land managers are taking steps to address the threat of COVID-19, with National Park Service units across the Southwest suspending river trips and extensive campground closures in several states. Yosemite National Park has closed to all visitors “until further notice”. One consequence of these actions is increased pressure on popular but less regulated locations, including sought-after rivers in the desert Southwest that run only during a short period each spring. Concentrating visitors in specific places at specific times not only increases the public health risk, but also the potential for damaging resources through heavy use, at a time when maintenance is more limited than usual. Avoid crowding by finding creative alternatives to well-known spots.


Trip Planning

We also encourage you to plan trips that fall well within your abilities. Search and rescue is resource intensive at the best of times, and we cannot fully foresee the strain COVID-19 will place on first responders, medical facilities and park staff. If you were to be involved in an incident in the coming months, a trip to the hospital (or even the doctor) poses heightened risks of its own. Other, non-medical facilities and services essential to a successful trip may be limited or unavailable due to closures. Expect to find public restrooms closed at many locations, and be prepared to take all your trash home with you.


Supporting Businesses

Gateway communities and outfitters face enormous economic challenges as bookings dry up, and visitation to popular destinations looks set to be heavily impacted. As with many other industries, workers are being laid off or facing pay cuts, and companies are struggling to stay in business. Please look for opportunities to lend support where it is needed, for example by leaving a deposit for a trip as credit towards a future adventure with the same company, rather than asking for a refund right away. 


Packraft Roundup

Each year, APA’s Packraft Roundup draws packrafters from across the US and around the world to a campground in the Rocky Mountain states. We hope the 2020 Roundup will go ahead as planned at the end of July, but are keenly aware that public health, travel and other restrictions may present insurmountable challenges this year. We are monitoring the situation closely, and will keep those of you who have registered up-to-date. Further Roundup registrations are on hold for now, as the situation is evolving rapidly. 


To the extent that travel and in-person gatherings are not possible, we hope you will find ways to make a difference in your local community, rediscover resources for outdoor recreation that are close by, and stay engaged with the broader packrafting community online. A crisis on the scale of COVID-19 provides us with new opportunities to challenge and to discover ourselves.


Wishing you the best in these trying times,


American Packrafting Association



Contact Us

American Packrafting Association

PO Box 13
Wilson, WY 83014