: Dylan VanWheelden

Take Care Out There

Oregon invites you to prepare, care and connect.
February 6, 2020 (Updated September 24, 2020)

There’s a lot to love about Oregon – and we want to keep it that way. With more people outdoors amid COVID-19 and public lands affected by wildfires, it’s important for you to Take Care Out There. 

Oregon is here for everyone to enjoy for generations to come. We’re proud of where we live and hope you find a meaningful connection to this place as well. Help preserve the state’s splendor by following these responsible recreation values: Prepare. Care. Connect.

Stay local with day trips near  home

As you prepare for a day trip to Oregon’s outdoors, be sure to pick a destination that’s close to home. Visiting a distant park can put a community’s limited resources at risk and make you less prepared for unexpected closures. Land managers recommend avoiding the more popular sites and peak hours. A new Oregon web resource, Parkpulse.io  surfaces recreation points near your location with details about each site’s crowding potential and COVID-19 stats.

Stick to groups under 10 people and only members of your household. Limiting travel and contact with non-household members helps contain the spread of COVID-19. Stay home if you feel sick or have any flu-like symptoms.

Check the park’s status before you go

Oregon’s parks, like other public places, have mostly closed or reduced services, but are now beginning to open to visitors on a limited basis. Not all recreation sites will open at the same time and hours; operations and facilities (such as restrooms) may be limited. Before you go, learn who manages the site and if they’re currently open.

Understand closures can happen without notice. Parks may close unexpectedly due to public safety concerns, such as if physical distancing cannot be maintained or there is risk of an infected person at the site. Have a backup plan in case your destination closes unexpectedly.

Wondering what is open or closed? Here are some restrictions to keep in mind.

Pack everything you need

Bring all the supplies needed for the day, including the Ten Essentials, hand sanitizer, face coverings, money for park fees and gas.  Supplies are limited in parks and communities — including toilet paper. By coming prepared, you skip making unnecessary stops and avoid additional points of contact that carry the risk of spreading COVID-19.  

Consider purchasing your parking pass in advance. Most parks prefer card payment, but many sites managed by the Forest Service and BLM accept cash only.

Practice good personal hygiene and physical distancing

Just because you’re outdoors doesn’t mean you won’t run into other people. Keep practicing good personal hygiene and wash or sanitize your hands often. Know which facilities are open (restrooms may be closed) and avoid high-touchpoint areas like playgrounds and picnic shelters as they are not disinfected frequently. Cover your cough with a tissue (and then throw it away), or the inside of your elbow.

Face coverings are now required when physical distancing is difficult. Be prepared to wear your face covering on the trail (pull them up when passing other hikers), trailheads, boat ramps, beaches and rivers — it’s also a nice way of showing others that you care.

Continue to practice physical distancing. When you’re out on the trail, make sure you are keeping a distance of six feet or more between yourself and others outside of your household. According to standard trail etiquette, hikers coming uphill have the right of way. If your site is too crowded and you are not able to maintain six feet of distance, leave and come back another time.

Prevent crowding in parking lots, trail and boat ramps

Don’t linger at parking lots, trailheads or boat ramps to avoid crowding . Parking areas, trailheads and boat ramps can get crowded quickly, hindering emergency and residential access. Park your car in designated areas only.

Always keep pets leashed with a 6-feet distance from other people and animals. The CDC reports that pets can contract COVID-19.

Be mindful and avoid risky behavior

Pay attention to your surroundings. Stay on designated trails except when you briefly need to give others more room when passing to maintain physical distancing. Take any trash with you, including disposable gloves and face coverings, and make wildfire prevention a priority. Leaving no trace and ensuring the parks stay clean lessens the impact on staff and the risk of exposure to virus.

It’s not the time to try new things — choose activities within your skill level. Risky behavior puts strain on limited health and rescue resources, which are focused on virus-related emergency needs right now.


A family getting ready to ride bikes

Plan Ahead

Prepare before you head out. Consider what you want to see and experience, your group’s physical abilities and what’s realistic to do in the time you have. Can you visit off peak to avoid crowds?

2 people hiking up rocks

Be Ready

Check conditions. Pack your Ten Essentials. Got the right shoes for the terrain? Water? Cell phone? You may not always have coverage, so take a picture of the trail map or bring one with you. Consider hiring a guide.

2 people looking at a map

Don’t Forget

Let someone know where you’re headed and when you plan to be back. Tuck some cash in your pocket for park fees (that help maintain our natural spaces).


2 people walking in the woods

Make Smart Choices

Know your limits and when to stop for the day. Follow the signs; they’re there to tell you important stuff like how to avoid injuries and not get lost. 

Head of bald eagle for Take Care Out There campaign

Be Respectful

If you’re lucky enough to spot wildlife, use your zoom lens and observe from afar. Share trails with others. Know who manages the land you access and what the rules and regulations are.

Two people walking on the path at Painted Hills

Keep It Natural

Stay on designated trails and areas to protect the landscape. Don’t take anything home but your trash—and please, please take your trash with you. Make wildfire prevention a top priority. 


A child in a field of flowers

Enjoy Yourself

Experiencing the quiet, awe-inspiring beauty of nature can not only uplift your spirits, it can improve your health. Think of Oregon’s vast outdoors as your place to relax and recharge. 

A guided tour

Say Hello

Greet fellow adventurers and spark a conversation. Check in with a visitor center, ranger station and/ or local business to learn from the locals, grab a map and gather local insight. 

people in a museum

Spread Goodwill

Share your knowledge with others if it’s helpful. Support the community— eat, drink, shop and stay local. Stop by cultural centers to learn our history and peoples’ relationship to the place. 


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