State parks in Massachusetts began turning away visitors Sunday morning as crowds flocked to natural areas amid a stifling heat wave in New England.
Even before 8 a.m., the Department of Conservation and Recreation tweeted that Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord had reached its peak capacity and that parking lots there would close until further notice.
DCR said later in the morning that parking areas at Cochituate State Park in Natick had closed until at least 1:00 p.m. after the park reached capacity.
Parking areas at Nahant Beach State Reservation in the Town of Nahant were closed for a time as the reservation reached its maximum safe number of visitors.
The parking areas at Salisbury Beach State Reservation and Hopkinton State Park were also closed at times during the day after the parks reached maximum capacity.
The temporary closings come as New Englanders battle a brutal heat wave at a time when many activities are restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
In Gloucester, parking lots at public beaches were open only to town residents over the weekend.
On Saturday, workers at Gloucester beaches turned away dozens of beachgoers, including at least one family that had traveled about two hours from Springfield.
"It's kind of heartbreaking because my wife dragged me out to the beach and picked this destination two hours away, and now we have to turn back home," Ali Williams said.
Several people argued with officials at the beach who told them about the city order, while others left their car outside the gates despite warnings it would be towed.
“They’re having us turn around and stuff and we tried a couple other side roads and there all no parking," said Hunter Vaverchak, a North Andover resident.
The city of Boston, which declared a heat wave for Sunday and Monday, has opened cooling centers at the Boston Centers for Youth and Families and Tobin Community Center.
Hours of operation for Sunday are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Monday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Boston City Youth and Family swimming pools remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, city splash pads remain open, with restrictions.
Cooling centers can be found throughout these Boston neighborhoods:
- Downtown Boston
- South Boston
- East Boston
- Jamaica Plain
- West Roxbury
Be aware that you will need to be screened for COVID-19 before entering a community center. Face masks must be worn; you must practice good hygiene and social distance from others; and only one small bag is permitted.