COVID-19: Answers to frequently asked questions

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Nov 25, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Many parks are open for day use and camping, but COVID-19 means we had to reduce or change some services to protect visitors and staff from exposure. Below, you'll find answers to many common questions about what to expect when you visit state parks. 

1. How does the Governor's Two-Week Freeze affect my stay?

The latest efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 do not change much for visitors. Oregon State Parks and campgrounds will remain open, and visitors should continue to wear face coverings and give plenty of space to other visitors. The freeze — from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2, with potential extension — directs people to limit gatherings, including outdoors, to no more than six people total, from no more than two households. While we do not plan to close any outdoor or open-air group areas at this time, we do ask that visitors observe these rules while using them. Indoor facilities like meeting halls will be closed until at least Jan. 31, 2021. Please check this page for updates.

 

2. Which parks are open?

Most visitor centers, hiker/biker sites, and meeting halls remain closed. A handful of parks are temporarily closed due to the September wildfire emergency. And, some campgrounds close for the fall and winter every year, starting in October or November. Check our Park Status Map for updates on open and closed parks.

Open campgrounds:

COAST

Note: All yurts, cabins, and deluxe yurts will all be closed through at least Jan. 1, 2021.  Specific service reductions are on the park page. Please visit the link. 

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VALLEY/GORGE

Note: All showers are closed. Additional service reductions are on the park page. Please visit the link. 

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CENTRAL OREGON

Note: Service reductions are on the park page. Please visit the link. 

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SOUTHERN OREGON:

Note: Service reductions are on the park page. Please visit the link. 

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EASTERN OREGON

Note: Service reductions are on the park page. Please visit the link. 

Read the full press release on limited camping resuming at some state parks.

 

3. How do I make a reservation?


Reservations are being accepted online at oregonstateparks.reserveamerica.com and by phone at 800-452-5687. New reservations will be accepted one day to 30 days in advance, for stays that begin within this time period. This is a change from the typical nine month reservation window. New sites will come online at midnight each night. Not all sites at all parks are available, and many were already reserved before the system closed. 

If we need to cancel your reservation due to a COVID-19 closure, we will contact you. Reservations for some yurts and cabins, group facilities and meeting halls are subject to cancellation. See the Cancellations and Refunds section below for more information. 

 

What to Expect

 

4. What should I expect when I visit a state park? 

Because we closed all state parks at the beginning of the pandemic, March 23 – May 6, we did not bring on our usual seasonal staff and volunteer hosts and we lost significant revenue. Staffing is very limited and will continue to be limited as we slowly welcome back visitors. Please understand that service levels may not be what you are used to, and areas and buildings within the park may be closed. Visitors should plan for the following service reductions and changes: 

  • Limited staffing and hosts
  • Some restrooms may be closed
  • Firewood, ice and convenience items may not be available
  • Checkout times for yurts and cabins moves to 11 a.m.
  • Some restroom and shower facilities are closed
  • In some cases, booths and visitor service centers will be closed
  • Signs posted to discourage group gatherings and congestion
  • Signs posted to remind you to wear a face covering in congested areas

More information about what to expect while camping is posted here. Find out more about visiting for the day here

 

5. I'm from out of state. What do I need to know about traveling to Oregon?

If you are visiting a state park from outside Oregon, we ask you to self-quarantine at home for 14 days before entering the state to help reduce chances of spreading the virus. This means you should limit interactions to your immediate household during those 14 days. Likewise, if you are returning to Washington or California following your stay, you ought to self-quarantine again for 14 days. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced this joint travel advisory with the governors of Washington and California on Nov. 13 in response to rising COVID-19 cases in the three states. While visiting, we strongly advise you to stick to your campsite and to your own household group.

If you have questions about your reservation, please contact us at 800-551-6949 or park.info@oregon.gov.

 

6. What can I do to help keep parks open?

Please prepare:

  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • If you visit for the day, stay local and close to home—meaning less than 50 miles in urban areas.
  • Only visit with members of your household.
  • Bring all supplies—food, water, hand sanitizer, face cover—needed for a short trip.
  • If a park appears crowded, leave and come back another time.

And care:

  • Wear a face covering in congested areas, even outside. Homemade is fine.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from people who aren’t from your household. Further apart is better.
  • Cover your cough with a tissue (then throw it away), or the inside of your elbow.
  • Leave no trace: pack out everything you bring with you.
  • Stick to low-risk activities to reduce stress on local emergency response and health care systems.
  • Keep your visit short if you just come for the day. Restrooms and other buildings may be closed.
  • Watch for signs at the park for more information.

Watch our Prepare + Care video here.

 

Reservations, Cancellations, and Refunds

 

7. I have a reservation at a park or facility that is closed because of COVID-19. What’s your cancellation policy?

Reservations at areas closed due to COVID-19 are being canceled and fees refunded, including the $8 reservation fee. You will be notified by email if your reservation is canceled or modified. We aim to open as many facilities as we can, as budget allows and without compromising the safety of visitors and staff. Thank you for your patience.

If you do not see your refund within 10 business days of receiving notification that your cancellation is processing, please contact us at 800-551-6949 or park.info@oregon.gov.

 

8. Why is your reservation window only 30 days?

A nine-month window means that when services change abruptly — as with a pandemic or massive wildfires — a large number of reservations need to be changed, canceled, or refunded. Not only are they a huge inconvenience to visitors, reservation changes can be complicated and time consuming. Also, refunds are a big financial hit at the worst possible time: when we are trying to restore operations safely with far fewer staff. A 30-day window offsets some of the uncertainty, and enables us to better predict revenue and expenses. We do plan to extend the window at some point, and we will make a public announcement when we do.

 

9. What about my day-use parking permit?

Since our state park system was closed to all public use from March 23 to May 6, and did not substantially re-open to day-use until the week of May 11, we will add time to 12 and 24-month parking permits that were unable to be used during our closures.

Two months will be added to all 12 and 24-month state park parking permits currently valid and in circulation. This extension applies to 12-month permits purchased starting in March 2019, and 24-month permits purchased starting in March 2018.

Any 12 or 24-month pass purchased in May 2020 or later will expire normally. The Pacific Coast Passport is not part of the day-use parking permit extensions. For more details, see our Day-Use Permit Extension page.

 

10. Can I get my tax dollars back since you are operating with reduced services?

Oregon State Parks does not operate with any general fund tax dollars. Park operations are funded through three main sources: Lottery revenue, user fees, and a portion of RV registration proceeds.

 

11. If services are reduced, why are you charging full price?

The pandemic has redefined “normal” in many areas of our lives, including camping in state parks. We didn’t hire our normal crew of seasonal staff, but we have even more work to do to maintain new, strict cleaning protocols. As a result, we have had to close some facilities like showers and playgrounds where we do not have adequate resources and staff.

Your reservation fee covers the cost of your site and basic amenities like electric hookups and water (depending on type of site), as well as access to a restroom, as outlined in the Oregon Administrative Rules. That fee is critical for sustaining the state park system and allowing us to return to pre-pandemic service levels.

 

12. Why did you start charging out-of-state visitors up to 30% more?

We started to charge more for out-of-state campers in August to do our part to help control the spread of the virus by discouraging non-essential long-distance travel, and to pay for park staff and extra cleaning needed to make parks a little safer. We said we would review this temporary charge to see if it needs to continue past the end of the year. Because our priority is to reduce the number of new COVID-19 cases and support state efforts to manage the health emergency, we are extending the charge through January 31, 2021. We’ll review it again before the end of January to see if it should continue after that.

 

13. Why not raise rates for Oregon campers, too?

Because Oregonians bear more costs for their state parks than non-residents do. Our revenue almost completely comes from a) user fees; b) a portion of net Lottery proceeds, and c) a portion of RV registration fees. RV registration fees are borne only by Oregonians.

 

Other Park Closures

 

14. Are beaches open?

Yes. Cities and counties can ask the state's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to close beaches within the city or county boundaries. We will honor requests approved by the OEM.

 

15. Are park RV dump stations open?

If the park is closed, so is the dump station. Commercial providers may still be open. 

 

16. Are boat launches open?

If the park is closed, so is the boat launch. Some boat launches inside open state parks are closed. Please check the park's webpage. 

 

17. Are life jacket loaner stations open?

The life jacket loaner program available at some parks will not be provided in 2020, due to safety and sanitation concerns. Please plan ahead by bringing a life jacket from home.

 

18. What about parks managed by other agencies?

For other land management agencies and their updates, please visit:

 

 


Respect any closures. Closed means closed.

Stay home. Save lives.
 

 

Some parks are open for day-use and camping, with reduced services. Check the Park Status Map and FAQ for details. Campfire restrictions may be in place.