COVID-19: For the latest information on COVID-19 in Oregon, visit the Oregon Health Authority. Interested in how we’re handling COVID-19 in Oregon State Parks? For the latest updates, visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page.

COVID-19 Response: Parks closing

03/23/2020

Reviewed date: March 26, 1:01 p.m.
Updated March 26, 1:10 p.m.

We have made the difficult decision to close the entire state park system by March 23. No daytime or overnight visitors are permitted at any state park. This does not affect the ocean shore. We'll revisit that decision if people don't maintain 6' social distance.

Read the closure announcement.

This closure will last at least until May 8. We'll decide before then whether it's time to re-open. The COVID-19 situation is very fluid and we’re following Governor Kate Brown's executive order dated March 23, 2020.

What? Why? Isn't this an overreaction?

This is the hardest thing we've ever had to do. We'd hoped people would protect themselves, and more importantly, others by limiting their travel just to short trips to places with space. That didn't happen, and we understand why: people need to get out, and they need a little nature time to make this whole thing bearable.

But you're more important to us than our mission. Our local neighbors near each park -- many of them small and rural -- need our support and understanding. They and their health care systems (and grocery stores) don't need a few thousand extra people on their doorstep.

So now what do I do? Sit around for a couple of months?

Go out if it's important. Take a walk around your neighborhood where it's easier to avoid clumping up, if that's what you need. Please do not travel to any popular recreation hotspot. You might think, "Well, if everyone else stays home, that means I can go." This works only if we all do our part.

Cancellation policy

The site fee for all cancelled reservations will be refunded. Example: if you were due to stay five nights and only camped two before we closed, we’ll refund the other three. If your whole stay was cancelled, we'll also refund the normally nonrefundable $8 reservation fee. Example: if you have a four night reservation starting tomorrow, we’ll refund all those nights and the $8 reservation fee.

We will process these refunds as quickly as we can, but be patient. It may take a week or more. If you don’t see that refund within 10 business days, please contact us by email to park.info@oregon.gov or call 800-551-6949, M-F, 8a-5p.

How about day-use parking permits?

We’ll automatically add time to all 12- and 24-month day-use parking permits after we resume normal operations. Example: if parks re-open in June, any 12-month parking permit purchased in March, April, or May would be valid through June 2021. (In this example, 24-month permits would be valid through June 2022.)

What about beaches?

This decision doesn’t currently affect the ocean shore, but it does close all state park-managed parking lots and beach accesses. Cities, counties, federal land managers, and businesses who manage accesses may follow suit. If you visit a beach, you may be approached by law enforcement to remind you of the Governor's order to limit travel and maintain social distance from people not in your family.

We have the authority to close the beach temporarily for health reasons. If people don’t get the message that clumping up and overwhelming local areas is a bad idea, we’ll have to revisit the decision to leave all beaches open.

Why not let some people camp, but send others home?

You mean, allow RVs, but only if they are totally self-contained and people promise to stay inside them? Or close big parks, but not small ones? The only thing harder than closing an entire park system is closing it to some, but not others.

We understand there are people who rely on public camping, and move from place to place without ever settling. Besides helping contain the spread of coronavirus, this decision is about reducing the strain on rural communities. We encourage you to find a place to stay closer to an area that is better equipped to handle this health emergency.

Half-measures won’t do, so this closure is system-wide.

Are RV dump stations staying open?

When we close a park, we close the entire park, including dump stations. Commercial providers may still be open.

Can I just sneak in?

Closed is closed. We lock restrooms, stop trash service, and it’s not safe for you or us to go into a closed park. If we see you in a park, we’ll ask you to leave. If you refuse, we can issue you a citation. If that’s not persuasive enough, we can call law enforcement. We don’t want to do that, and they don’t need the hassle. Take a step back and understand this is temporary and driven by Oregon’s state of emergency. Stay home, stay healthy, visit us online, and we’ll see you on the other side.

What’s the problem with a walk on a trail?

A single person walking on a trail is fine. There are a few million people in the west who are thinking the same thing, and then next thing you know, people are parking alongside roads to get into a park. That’s bad for you, it harms other people, and it puts stress on local groceries and health care systems.

Remember:


Stay home. Save lives.