COVID-19: Answers to frequently asked questions

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Oct 22, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. Which parks are open?

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. Most visitor centers, cabins, yurts, hiker/biker sites, and group facilities remain closed. Some parks are temporarily closed due to the September wildfire emergency. Check our Park Status Map for updates on open and closed parks.

Note: some campgrounds close for the fall and winter every year, starting in October or November. 

Open campgrounds:

COAST

Note: Reservations required; no first-come, first-served camping until further notice. 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: 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.

 

2. 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. 

Reservations for most yurts and cabins, group camping and group day-use are still subject to cancellation. Visitors holding those reservations will be contacted if a cancellation is required. 

See the Cancellations and Refunds section below for more information. 

 

3. How will you reopen safely?

All decisions about reopening follow recommendations from the Oregon Health Authority and are based on these main points:

  • Where can we open without straining nearby communities?
  • How can we keep visitors and staff as safe as possible, given reduced services and staffing?
  • How can we keep facilities clean, allow for adequate physical distancing and monitor parking lots, among many other operational duties?

In order to reopen a campground, these general conditions must be met:

  • Public health guidelines (OHA established) for the county must be met.
  • The local community must agree.
  • We have enough staff, supplies and equipment to safely open and operate at a minimum level.

In order to keep a park or campground open, these general conditions must be met:

  • The number of visitors stays below capacity.
  • Visitors cooperate and comply with park rules.
  • Visitors respect COVID-19 precautions such as physical distancing and wearing a face covering where 6' distance isn't possible.

 

4. Why are only some of the camp loops open at a particular park?

Our ability to open camp loops depends both on staffing and our ability to maintain the facilities. Some loops are closed due to staff shortages. Other loops close in the fall as part of regular seasonal closures. 

 

5. Why are some parks still closed?

The reality is that revenues fell drastically during the pandemic, when we shut down the entire park system for 13 weeks, and in turn we drastically cut back on seasonal hiring that we depend on to run parks in the summer. We simply do not have the staff to keep all parks open in a way that keeps visitors and staff safe. We apologize for the disruption.


6. My campsite is in a park or loop that isn’t reopening, what should I do?

You don’t need to do anything. We’ll take care of the cancellations and refunds, including the $8 reservation fee.


7. What campgrounds are opening next?

Selected other campgrounds, loops and facilities such as cabins and yurts may open this fall and next spring, as conditions allow. We will add them to the list at the top of the page. Also check our Park Status Map for regular updates on open parks.

 

8. My yurt/cabin was canceled. Can I use the site to camp in my tent or RV?

No. These sites are closed to all types of camping. With limited staff and resources, we cannot spare additional rangers to staff closed cabin and yurt loops even if you are only tent camping or staying in an RV at the site. Additionally, some cabin and yurt sites do not have driveway space for RVs, nor do they have hookups. 

 

What to Expect

 

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

Because of the closure, we did not bring on our usual seasonal staff and volunteer hosts. 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
  • Campfire restrictions may be in place because of limited local firefighting resources (even if it is raining)

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

 

10. Can I install a portable shower in my campsite?

No. Our campsites are not designed to support drainage from portable showers. The result would be unsanitary (and muddy).

 

11. 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

 

12. I have a reservation at a closed park. 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.

We are processing refunds as fast as we can. 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.

 

13. 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.

 

14. 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.

 

15. 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.

 

16. 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-COVID-19 service levels.

 

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

In short, we made this decision for both health reasons and to raise revenue.

First, controlling the spread of COVID-19 factors into every operational decision we make. Current guidance encourages all of us to stay close to home and minimize non-essential travel, including for recreation. Imposing this surcharge is a way of discouraging non-essential travel and minimizing the potential spread across state lines. 

Second, we need more revenue, quickly. We lost significant revenue while campgrounds were closed March 23 – June 9. New revenue from the surcharge can help us hire additional workers and offset the costs of extra cleaning.

 

18. 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

 

19. 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.

 

20. Are park RV dump stations open?

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

 

21. 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. 

 

22. 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.

 

23. What about parks managed by other agencies?

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

 

 


Respect the 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.