If you thought your backyard was the only place you could pitch a tent this summer, Oregon State Parks and Recreation has just offered hope you can make more ambitious vacation plans.
The agency announced that starting Tuesday, June 9, some state park campgrounds will allow overnight stays. Those properties closed across the state March 23 to encourage visitors to follow Gov. Kate Brown's stay-at-home order.
A list of campgrounds set to return to operation is still being finalized and will be published on the Oregon State Parks website by the end of May.
Sites where restrictions are lifted will honor existing reservations for tent and RV campers, though the booking process going forward will work a little different.
Instead of being able to save your spot as far as nine months out, Oregon State Parks will only take reservations from one day to two weeks in advance. You can still snag a site at open campgrounds on a first-come, first-serve basis, as long as there is space available and enough staffing. Reservations for most yurts and cabins are subject to cancellation at this point.
The two-month closure of recreation areas has hampered the Oregon state park system, since much of its revenue is generated by visitors. Given those losses, the agency has been operating with about half its staff, which means trash removal, cleaning and landscaping services are all operating at a reduced rate. Park conditions will determine whether camping can go forward at any given location.
"Oregon needs what its parks can provide," parks director Lisa Sumption said in a press release. "This is less service than Oregonians are used to, and we're doing our best to stretch the budget, but it will take continued cooperation and support from visitors to make this work."
As always, campers are encouraged to come prepared and pack out what they pack in, but that message is even more critical during a global health crisis.
Oregon State Parks and Recreation advises visitors to stick to sites close to home and only visit with people from your household. Bring cleaning supplies—although restrooms are expected to be open, showers may not be operating. The 6-foot buffer between campers still applies. And use trails or any facilities gently, given the lack of resources for maintenance right now.
Rangers at parks across the state participated in a new video to elaborate on the guidelines visitors should follow.