: Lake Billy Chinook by Clayton Cotterell

What to Know About Oregon’s Outdoors Right Now

April 7, 2020 (Updated September 24, 2020)

Across Oregon, counties are facing impacts from the 2020 wildfires and following the governor’s framework for a phased reopening. It’s important to stay local as guidance around travel may vary by county and evacuation zones.

For the latest updates on areas impacted and evacuation zones, please see the maps and resources below:

Recreation sites from state and national parks, to campgrounds and public boat launches are all reporting record-breaking visitation levels as Oregonians and visitors head outdoors after months of quarantining indoors. It is important to know what to expect before venturing into Oregon’s outdoors.

It is required to wear face coverings while in public, indoor spaces (restaurants, bars, hotels, grocery stores, museums, etc.) and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible. Exceptions include children under five and people with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from wearing a face covering.

Visitors and locals need to be prepared before going to recreation sites and take care while there. Plan ahead, be flexible and be patient — we’re all in this together.

Prepare before you go. – Stay local with day trips near home and no groups of more than 10 people. – Check the park’s status before you go, understanding closures can happen without notice and restrooms may not be open. – Pack everything you need so you don’t make any unnecessary stops.

Take care when you get there. - Maintain minimum 6-feet physical distance from others and wear face coverings. Wash or sanitize your hands often.   - Prevent crowding by not congregating in parking lots, trailheads or boat ramps. - Be mindful and avoid risky behavior.

As counties reopen, Oregonians need to make informed decisions and review reopening guidance for the public.

Even though the weather is nice right now, please respect closures since it’s not safe to enter a closed area and entering can result in a fine. Search and rescue groups have asked residents to make “conservative risk-management choices” as rescue efforts will place additional burden on medical resources that are already stretched thin.

With current physical distancing measures in place, Oregon is reducing the transmission of COVID-19. (Keep it up!)

Two hikers wear face coverings while walking down a trail.
Remember face coverings are required outdoors when social distancing is not possible. (Photo by Susan Seubert)
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Here are key restrictions to keep in mind:

Oregon State Parks

Some state parks have closed due to high winds, downed trees and wildfire danger. Many of the 257 Oregon State Parks sites remain open, but are experiencing poor air quality and frequent power outages. Find a list of parks closed due to wildfires here. Previously, limited tent and RV camping reopened with service reductions at some Oregon State Parks sites. At the Oregon Coast, camping reservations required and all yurts and cabins will be closed through at least Sept. 30, 2020. Out-of-state residents will need to pay an additional surcharge fee of $33 for overnight stays, effective through the rest of 2020. Campfire and open flame restrictions are in place at several parks and beaches statewide. Check the Parks Status Map for the latest information.

National Parks

Many National Parks Service sites in Oregon, including national monuments and historic trails, have service reductions until further notice. Crater Lake National Park increased some recreational access, including park entrance stations and several trails, while many facilities and services remain closed. All three units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Sheep Rock, Painted Hills and Clarno) are open, however, visitor centers remain closed. At the Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve, trails and visitor centers are open; however, cave tours remain closed.

BLM lands

Due to extreme fire risk, all developed campgrounds are closed and dispersed camping is prohibited across the Bureau of Land Management’s Northwest Oregon District. Within the Roseburg District’s Swiftwater Field Office, all BLM-administered lands east of Interstate 5 are closed to the public. The Coos Bay District is closing developed recreation sites east of Highway 101. In southwestern and central Oregon, campfires and open flames are prohibited on BLM-administered lands across the Coos Bay, Medford, and Prineville Districts. Visitors should check the BLM website or call the local BLM office in charge of managing the area of interest for the latest information.

National forests

Due to fire danger, the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service, which manages our national forests, has closed Mt Hood, Willamette, Siuslaw and Umpqua National Forest to all outdoor activity and public entry. Check out the Forest Service’s interactive map for specific recreation site details.

State forests

All lands managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry are now open, except the Santiam State Forest and areas closed due to active fires in Josephine County. Fire danger varies by location, and some areas aren’t allowing campfires. Know before you go by checking ODF’s Fire Restrictions page. Campgrounds remain closed for overnight stays.

Wildlife areas

All wildlife refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, except for Warms Springs National Fish Hatchery, remain open to the public — however, visitors centers are closed. Some wildlife areas managed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reopened to camping. 

City parks

Most city parks and their playground equipment are closed to the public. In the Portland area, Portland Parks & Recreation 20 natural areas and trails (including Forest Park and Powell Butte Nature Park) remain closed through October 8, 2020, due to continued wildland fire risk; other indoor recreation facilities and park amenities are closed, with several parks barring vehicle traffic until further notice. All facilities managed by Bend Park & Recreation are closed, whereas their parks and trails remain open with temporary use and social distancing rules.

County parks

Many county parks are partially or completely closed. Marion County and Josephine County parks are open with limited facilities. Metro parks and boat ramps remain open. Check with your local district for details; links to county parks are found in this story.

When it's time to explore again, Oregon's outdoors will still be here.

Columbia River Gorge

Many areas within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area are currently closed or restricted. Previously, several campgrounds and a limited number trails and day use sites have reopened; excluded from the reopening are most waterfall viewing areas, campgrounds and visitor centers. The Historic Columbia River Highway from Larch Mountain Road to Ainsworth State Park remains closed. Hood River County also reopened county forest lands.

Coast shoreline

Most beach-access points on Oregon’s Central Coast and Southern Coast have reopened. Check the Oregon State Parks map here for the latest details. While on the beach, visitors must follow social distancing guidelines — gather with your own household and remain at least 6 feet away from others. Coastal cities have witnessed an influx of visitors in the summer, so be prepared for people or consider staying local.

Fishing and hunting

Recreational hunting and fishing is open to all in Oregon. Recreational crabbing is open to all in Oregon bays, estuaries and ocean areas south of Cape Falcon (at Oswald West State Park on the North Coast). The ocean areas north of Cape Falcon — as well as the Columbia River — are still closed to non-resident crabbing.

Razor clamming is open from Tillamook Head to the California border for residents, and now includes access for non-residents.

Officials ask resident hunters and anglers not to travel far due to concerns of spreading COVID-19 and placing burdens on rural communities. Many day-use reservoirs and boat ramps managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are open with some closures noted online.

Waterplay

Most boat ramps across the state are open, but double-check the Oregon State Marine Board’s boating access map before venturing out. Keep in mind that even though a ramp may be open to launching, the restrooms may not be. Plan accordingly with hand sanitizer, toilet paper and if possible a personal porta-potty or bucket. Many pump-out/dump stations are operational where facilities are open. Wash hands frequently.

While rafting guides have paused operations during social distancing, you can still book trips or purchase gift cards for later dates.

Additional Resources

Various agencies operate and maintain multiple recreation sites across the state. Please check their websites to access the most current information around recreation sites.

  • Portland General Electric – View information on sites like Timothy Lake, North Fork Boat Launch, and Clackamas River access sites.
  • US Army Corps of Engineers – Find information on Bonneville, John Day, The Dalles Locks and Dams, Lost Creek Lake and multiple sites in the Willamette Valley
  • PacifiCorp – Access information on Keno and JC Boyle Reservoirs, Wallowa Park, North Fork Park, North Umpqua River and more
  • Idaho Power – Updates on recreation sites along the Oregon / Idaho boarder including the Hells Canyon area.
Deschutes River by Mia Sheppard

If you do head outdoors, come prepared. Remember local search and rescue teams have even less resources to respond to calls right now.

But do keep those travel dreams alive: Postpone, don’t cancel your upcoming trip. Oregon guides and outfitters depend on reservation deposits to sustain their businesses — and the local economy. By maintaining these investments, you will make an important impact and have a lot to look forward to once social distancing is over.

So what’s the best thing you can do as the nation combats COVID-19? Stay home. Save lives.

#DoTheRightThingNW:

  • Respect closures 
  • Follow local orders
  • Limit non-essential travel 
  • Reduce impact on facilities

When it’s time to explore again, Oregon will be ready for you.

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