In early April, Governor Kate Brown announced new details about reopening Oregon for public life, business and outdoor recreation.
Many local parks, natural areas and boat ramps are now open, however, certain facilities like playgrounds, courts, skateparks and restrooms may remain closed. While dispersed recreation is allowed on some public land (except dispersed camping in state forests), trailheads and traditional access points for hunting and fishing might be closed.
Most state and national parks, campgrounds, developed federal recreation sites and facilities (such as trailheads, visitor centers and restrooms) and group day-use areas like picnic shelters remain closed. Some beach access may not be open so check before you go.
Visitors need to be prepared before going to recreation sites and take care while there.
As counties prepare to 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 social distancing measures in place, Oregon is reducing the transmission of COVID-19. (Keep it up!)
Here are key restrictions to keep in mind:
Oregon State Parks
Oregon State Parks have started offering limited day-use services at select locations, including many sites on the Central and Southern Oregon Coast. Many of the 257 Oregon State Parks sites, including scenic viewpoints, remain closed. Limited tent and RV camping is set to reopen at Oregon State Park sites as of June 9. Check the Parks Status Map for the latest information.
Most National Parks Service sites in Oregon are closed until further notice. This includes national monuments and historic trails. All three units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Sheep Rock, Painted Hills and Clarno) are open, however, visitor centers remain closed.
The Bureau of Land Management is restoring access to certain developed recreation facilities and campgrounds in Oregon and Washington on a case-by-case basis. Visitors should check the BLM website or call the local BLM office in charge of managing the area of interest for the latest information.
The Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service, which manages our national forests, plans to begin a phased reopening of developed recreation sites in Oregon — however, sites remain closed until an official announcement is made. In the Umpqua National Forest, boat ramps and most trailheads have reopened to the general public, excluding the trailhead to the Umpqua Hot Springs, while reservations remain closed. Willamette National Forest has reopened many campgrounds and day-use sites. Mt. Hood National Forest is reopening most developed day-use and trailhead sites to recreational users beginning Friday, May 29, 2020.
Check out the Forest Service’s interactive map for specific recreation site details.
As of May 11, the Oregon Department of Forestry temporarily closed all dispersed camping in state forests and lands managed by ODF.
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 are reopen to camping now.
On May 7, the governor announced a new executive order will allow ski areas to reopen. Timberline Ski Area and Mt. Bachelor announced they will reopen with limited operations that include confirmed reservations and check points.
Most city parks and their playground equipment are closed to the public. In the Portland area, Portland Parks & Recreation 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.
Many county parks are partially or completely closed. Josephine County park facilities are closed, whereas all Marion County parks are closed until further notice. However Metro parks and boat ramps remain open. Check with your local district for details; links to county parks are found in this story.
Columbia River Gorge
On May 27, state and federal agencies began opening a limited number trails and day use sites in the Columbia River Gorge; 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. In addition, Hood River County also ordered the temporary closure of county forestland, the county trail system, trail staging areas, county forest roads, and all county parks and campgrounds.
Most beach-access points on Oregon’s Central Coast and Southern Coast have reopened. Check the Oregon State Parks map here for the latest. While on the beach, visitors must follow social distancing guidelines — gather with your own household and remain at least 6 feet away from others.
Fishing and hunting
Recreational hunting and fishing is open to all in Oregon. As of May 20, 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.
All clamming is closed until further notice.
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.
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.
All Oregon State Parks campgrounds and all dispersed camping in state forests remain closed.
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.
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.
- 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.