Swimming holes at a popular summertime destination in central Minnesota, the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Waite Park, will not open for Memorial Day weekend and will remain closed indefinitely as part of the effort to counter the coronavirus outbreak, officials have announced.
The restriction went into effect Thursday, but the park itself remains open for all other uses, read a statement from Stearns County and its Parks Department.
Lengthy discussions with the County Parks Commission, the Sheriff’s Office and public health and administration departments preceded the decision.
Quarry Park attracts an estimated 150,000 visitors per year, with most coming from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Nicer days in the summer draw many hundreds to its two swimming quarries. Water in one quarry is more than 100 feet deep, making it especially popular with cliff jumpers.
“Due to the natural and man-made granite features of [the park], the areas around the two swimming quarries create an atmosphere like that of a swimming pool, with limited space for people to spread out,” the county statement explained. “Because of this, there is inadequate space for park users to properly social distance while using the two swimming quarries.”
The swimming quarries will remain closed “until further notice [and] will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so,” the statement read.
Unaffected is the beach at Warner Lake County Park in Clearwater, the county pointed out, where there is larger space for visitors to properly practice distancing.
To prevent the beach from getting too crowded, officials are asking visitors to limit their time there to a few hours in order to allow others the opportunity.
“If we observe overcrowding or have patron issues, we will re-evaluate having this amenity available,” the county’s statement cautioned.