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Duke Gardens to Begin Phased Reopening Thursday for Duke Faculty, Staff and Students

After a year-long closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sarah P. Duke Gardens plans to reopen in phases beginning April 1, with limited capacity and timed ticketing to ensure best practices for health and safety. 

In the first phase, only Duke students, faculty and staff who have completed symptom monitoring and have a timed ticket and Duke ID will be able to access the Gardens. The hours will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. No other family members or guests will be admitted, with the exception of infants aged 12 months or younger.

Entry will be only through the Memorial Gate on Flowers Drive, adjacent to West Campus. The Anderson Street entrance and parking lots will remain closed. Visitors must obtain a ticket with a specific entry time in advance of their arrival. Tickets will be available via the Duke Box Office  beginning at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 30.

Before entering the Gardens at their scheduled times, visitors must show their valid Duke photo ID and completed entry on the symptom monitoring apps for Duke University or Duke University Health System (see details in the “know before you go” section below).

“We are delighted at the prospect of sharing the beauty and serenity of Duke Gardens with visitors again,” says Bill LeFevre, Duke Gardens’ executive director, who worked with Duke administrators and Gardens staff to determine when and how to reopen as safely as possible.

“Duke Gardens is a vital part of the Duke campus experience, and we look forward to welcoming students, faculty, and staff who have long cherished their time in the Gardens and have been eager to return. We are especially excited for first-year students to see the spectacular plant collections and experience how relaxing, rejuvenating and inspiring it can be to explore these nationally acclaimed gardens in the heart of the Duke campus.” 

Reducing capacity is a critical factor for safety during the pandemic. In a normal year, more than 600,000 visitors flock to the Gardens, and even the widest paths can be extremely crowded at peak times. Many of the Gardens’ paths are only 2 to 4 feet wide, so maintaining social distance is extremely challenging, if not impossible.

Opening to a smaller population for phase 1 will enable the Gardens’ staff to iron out any logistical challenges before moving into a phase 2 opening with more visitors. 

The health and safety of visitors and staff are the Gardens’ top priorities, and the reopening date and details are subject to change on short notice, as with all plans and policies during this unpredictable pandemic period. Duke Gardens does not have a reopening date for the general public at this time. To keep apprised of all COVID-19 campus information, go to

Duke faculty and staff may also make appointments to access the Gardens for classes and for Duke-facilitated wellness programs.  Please see Duke in the Gardens for more information and to request an appointment.


Know before you go:

  • Visitors must obtain a ticket with a specific entry time in advance of their arrival. Tickets will be available via the Duke Box Office beginning at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 30. You must arrive at or within 30 minutes following your scheduled entry time.   
  • Visitors may not bring children, or other family members or friends who are not Duke students or employees and thus are not part of Duke’s symptom monitoring program, with the exception of infants age 12 months or younger and in a carrier, pram or stroller.
  • All visitors must show a current Duke photo ID.
  • The first reservation each day will be at 10 a.m. The last will be at 3 p.m.
  • Each week on Tuesdays, a new set of reservation dates will be added to the box office.
  • Your visit may be as long as you like, provided that you exit before 4 p.m.
  • The Gardens will close promptly at 4 p.m., and all gates will be locked.  Please plan your visit accordingly.
  • In keeping with university safety procedures, before entering the Gardens, all visitors must show their completed entry on the Duke University (SymMon) or Duke University Health System (Duke HealthCheck) symptom monitoring apps for the day of the visit, showing the final “cleared for work” or “pass today” pages. You may display this via the phone app, email, or a printout. Download and find out more about these apps here – and here.
  • If visitors would like to spend time in the Gardens with friends, each person in the group must be a Duke student, staff or faculty member and purchase a ticket separately.
  • To ensure that as many people as possible may experience the beauty and serenity of the Gardens, we ask that you reserve no more than two visits per week during this initial period.
  • Your ticket will be scanned before you enter. You may bring a printout or display it on your mobile device.
  • You must wear a mask or face covering and maintain a 6foot distance from other visitors and Gardens staff at all times.
  • Entry is only through the Memorial Gate on Flowers Drive, near the Allen Building.
  • Hand sanitizer stations are located throughout the Gardens. Please use them after touching handrails or other surfaces.
  • Restrooms located in the Terrace Gardens and Culberson Asiatic Arboretum will be open during visiting hours. The Doris Duke Center, gift shop and café remain closed.
  • Water fountains will not be functioning, and bottled drinks will not be available for purchase on site. Please plan ahead and pack a water bottle.
  • The nearest parking is at Parking Garage 1, with the public entrance located on Trent Drive. Here is the lot on Google Maps. This photo shows the route from parking to the Memorial Gate. The parking fee is $2 per hour up to a max of $8 per day.
  • Bicycles and dog-walking will not be permitted at this time.