The first signs of spring are here and Oregon State Parks staff are busy preparing campgrounds for a more “normal” 2021 Spring Break and summer camping season.
“Our visitors and staff have weathered a rough 12 months,” Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) Director Lisa Sumption said. “None of us imagined this time last year that we would face a more than two-month shutdown of Oregon State Parks and then reopen under pandemic and safety precautions, followed by last September’s wildfires that damaged our local communities and several state parks.
Sumption said February’s ice storm also brought down trees and limbs and damaged some facilities in northern Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge parks.
“Our park staff, operating with fewer employees because of a revenue shortfall that prevented us from hiring our usual seasonal staff, have rallied and are looking forward to the coming months,” Sumption said. “We’re very grateful to them, and to all state park visitors for their patience.”
Although Oregon Lottery and park visitor fee revenue is projected to be down more than $20 million by the end of the 2019-21 biennium that ends June 30, nearly all state parks are open or will be in the next few months, including those parks that will reopen after usual seasonal closures. Oregon State Parks is also recruiting seasonal staff for park operations, and is able to do so because of spending reductions begun last year.
Park staff are evaluating the status of two park campgrounds that were temporarily closed because of wildfire damage: Collier Memorial State Park and Detroit Lake State Park.
Park manager Aaron Raines at Collier Memorial State Park and Logging Museum says the campground may open later this year, but staff are waiting for the snow to melt to continue assessing and repairing damage caused by the Two Four Two Fire and for State Historic Preservation Office approvals for some work.
The Williamson River Day-Use Area and a portion of the Logging Museum are open, although no park access is available to Spring Creek or the Williamson River during restoration efforts. Raines asks that visitors look for closure signs and to not enter restricted areas for their safety.
Detroit Lake State Park remains temporarily closed, although the Mongold Day-use Area and boat launch are open, park manager Bob Rea said, adding that park staff continue to repair infrastructure damaged by the Beachie Fire and says the campground could open by this summer.
Both Raines and Rea said campground site reservations will be available as soon as reopening dates are determined.
Overnight camping rates will remain the same as 2020 rates except for a $3 increase for electric hookup and full hookup sites in selected parks May 28-Sept. 6. The electric hookup rate range will be $24-$35 and the full hookup range will be $26-$38 per night at the following parks.
- Beverly Beach State Park
- Bullards Beach State Park
- Cape Blanco State Park
- Cape Lookout State Park
- Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area
- Fort Stevens State Park
- Harris Beach State Park
- Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park
- Nehalem Bay State Park
- South Beach State Park
- Sunset Bay State Park
- William M. Tugman State Park
- The Cove Palisades State Park
- LaPine State Park
- Tumalo State Park
- Valley of the Rogue State Park
- Wallowa Lake State Park
- Champoeg State Heritage Area
- Detroit Lake State Recreation Area
- L.L. Stub Stewart Memorial State Park
- Silver Falls State Park
These rates include applicable state and local taxes. The temporary, COVID-related surcharge that added up to an additional 30% fee to overnight stays for out-of-state campers ended March 1. All campers in 2021 will pay the same rates. OPRD plans to open a public discussion about making out-of-state rates a normal part of the overnight stay rate structure.
Some pandemic-related, temporary changes remain in place based on statewide restrictions to group gatherings, including keeping group facilities and hiker/biker camping areas closed. In addition, visitor stays in yurts and cabins are followed by a one-day resting period. The resting day reduces overall availability, but staff uses the time to thoroughly clean the facilities to ensure visitor safety. Yurt and cabin visits in coastal campgrounds require a two-night minimum stay.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department budget is 44% Lottery Fund dedicated by Oregon voters in 1999 and 2010; 50% “Other Fund” from park visitors, a portion of recreational vehicle registrations, and other sources; and 6% Federal Fund, mainly for heritage-related programs.
For more information about Oregon State Parks and campgrounds, visit stateparks.oregon.gov.