Opt Outside on Green Friday

November 16, 2016 (Updated November 18, 2016)

While many celebrate the day after Thanksgiving by heading to stores in search of Black Friday holiday shopping deals, others of us celebrate by spending the extra day off in search of new adventures in Oregon’s outdoors.

In support of REI’s #OptOutside movement, Oregon State Parks will waive parking and admission fees at all parks statewide on Friday, November 24, 2017. Parks have even embraced a new name for the day after Thanksgiving: Green Friday.

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Lace up your boots, hear leaves crunch under your feet, inhale that crisp fall air and explore the great outdoors. There’s more than one reason to opt outside on Green Friday.

For starters, the Oregon State Parks Foundation will offer hot drinks and snacks at five parks — Tryon Creek State Natural Area, Rooster Rock State Park, Fort Stevens State Park, Silver Falls State Park and Cape Blanco State Park. Volunteers will serve refreshments from Starbucks Coffee, Nossa Familia Coffee, Smith Teamaker, Stevens Cocoa and KIND Bars.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area, an easy escape in the Portland metro, will celebrate Green Friday with guided all-ages nature walks. Trained naturalists will lead groups throughout the park’s 658 acres of second-growth forest. A popular destination for schools in the Ticket2Ride program, Tryon Creek State Natural Area features accessible trails, interpretive exhibits, eight bridges and a wetland boardwalk.

Just outside Portland near the western entrance to the Columbia River Gorge, Rooster Rock State Park boasts some of the region’s best recreational opportunities: a scenic lagoon fitted with a boat ramp, fantastic bass and steelhead fishing, exciting winter windsurfing conditions, two disc golf courses and hiking trails. Bonus points for history buffs — Rooster Rock was reportedly a camping spot for the 1805 Lewis and Clark expedition.

Another hot spot for history, Fort Stevens State Park, located where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, served as a military defense site from the Civil War era to World War II. Today the 4,300-acre park offers paved nature trails, yurt and cabin camping, a military museum and easy beach access. Don’t miss the famous shipwreck of Peter Iredale, which ran aground at Clatsop Beach in 1906 and has been a haunting landmark ever since.

Often called the crown jewel of Oregon State Parks system, the 9,200-acre Silver Falls State Park is the largest and possibly most popular state park in Oregon. Tucked into the foothills of the Cascade Range east of Salem, Silver Falls features more than 25 miles of multi-use backcountry trails perfect for exploring, no matter the season. The park is home to the Trail of Ten Falls, which takes hikers above, behind and around 10 extraordinary waterfalls.

From the coastline to city limits, there are plenty of places to celebrate Green Friday. Located on the westernmost point in the state, Cape Blanco State Park in Port Orford is probably best known for its namesake lighthouse. It’s also home to more than eight miles of hiking trails that weave around woodlands, wetlands and super scenic ocean vistas — making it the perfect excuse to visit the South Coast.

Families with tots should also check out Portland-based Hike it Baby, which is hosting some 300-plus hikes nationwide on November 24. The organization will have two hikes in the Portland area and more around the state.

Need more inspiration? Visit OregonStateParks.org to find the right park to opt outside.

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