‘Cautiously delighted’: Oregon State Park camping slowly returning


A view of Minam State Recreational Area. Credit: Oregon State Parks

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As Oregon begins to return to a new normal amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, state parks are gradually opening up to limited camping starting this weekend.

Seven campgrounds, all east of the Cascades, are open as of Friday: Goose Lake south of Lakeview; Jackson Kimball, northwest of Chiloquin; Minam, north of La Grande; Hilgard Junction, near La Grande; Catherine Creek, near Union; Clyde Holliday, near John Day; Cottonwood Canyon, southeast of The Dalles. The campgrounds opening Friday are first-come, first-serve.

However, with the happy news of camping coming back, officials say services as most, if not all, state park campgrounds will be reduced due to preventative COVID-19 precautions, revenue loss and staff reductions. Those who are looking to rent a cabin or yurt will be out of luck, since they will not be offered except in rare cases; officials did not expand on those instances. Group camping also remains off limits.

The reopening of campgrounds hinges on several factors, according to Oregon Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Sumption, including whether a county’s public health guidelines established by the Oregon Health Authority are met; if locals agree; and if the park has enough staffing, supplies and equipment to safely open and operate.

“I am cautiously delighted,” Sumption said in a press release. “We are working hard to welcome campers wherever we can safely do so, as soon as we can.”

Campgrounds at other state parks across the state will be reopening in phases. The next round of campgrounds reopening will be June 9; however, state officials say other campgrounds may be reopened without a formal announcement, and encourage camping hopefuls to visit StateParks.Oregon.gov for the latest information.

The campgrounds on the coast reopening June 9 are: Fort Stevens, near Astoria; Cape Lookout, near Tillamook; Nehalem Bay, south of Cannon Beach; Beverly Beach, north of Newport; South Beach, south of Newport; Jessie M. Honeyman, south of Florence; William M. Tugman, south of Reedsport; Sunset Bay, near Coos Bay; Bullards Beach, north of Bandon; Humbug Mountain, south of Port Orford; and Harris Beach in Brookings.

Campsites in the Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge opening on June 9 are: Silver Falls, east of Salem; Detroit Lake, east of Salem; Champoeg, near Newberg; Cascara Campground at Fall Creek State Recreation Area, east of Eugene; Memaloose, near The Dalles.

Another round of campgrounds in southern, eastern and central Oregon will also reopen on June 9: The Cove Palisades, southwest of Madras; Prineville Reservoir, southeast of Prineville; Smith Rock, northeast of Redmond; Deschutes River, east of The Dalles; LaPine, south of Bend; Tumalo, north of Bend; Collier Memorial, north of Klamath Falls; Joseph Stewart, northeast of Medford; Wallowa Lake, southeast of Enterprise; and Farewell Bend, southeast of Huntington.

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