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Rangers Will Not Lead Oregon’s First Day Hikes in 2021

Volunteers will also not be present at winter whale-watching sites along the coast.

Ranger-led First Day Hikes are a beloved tradition to start the new year in Oregon, but if you want to keep the practice going in 2021, you'll have to go it alone.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced today that the personnel who would normally guide those rugged walks—providing details about the geology and history of each location along the way—won't be available due to COVID-19.

"We encourage visitors to explore parks close to their homes, wear face coverings and practice recommended social distancing," department director Lisa Sumption said in a press release. "If a park is crowded, please consider visiting another nearby park."

The absence of volunteers also applies to winter whale watching, an activity that normally draws tourists to the coast, though most viewing sites managed by the agency will remain open to visitors, except the popular Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center.

If you decide to venture out on that First Day Hike after all, there is a bit of good news: The parking fee for the 25 parks that normally require a permit will be waived on Jan. 1. Some sites will display posters with recommended routes and ranger favorites.