Oregon State Parks Will Get New Campgrounds and Facility Upgrades Thanks to $50 Million in Funding

Sites with planned expansions include Champoeg, Silver Falls, Smith Rock and Kam Wah Chung.

A slew of Oregon State Parks are slated to get some much-needed upgrades and additional campgrounds, in response to several years of high traffic wear and tear.

During its 2021 session, the Oregon Legislature approved $50 million in general obligation bonds to fund the improvements, which will be made over the next several years. And now we have a better idea about what those projects will look like. This month, the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission approved and released an outline of its plans.

The first round of improvements include more campsites at two popular locations near the Portland metro area: Champoeg State Heritage Area is scheduled to receive a new loop for tents and RVs, riverside cabins and a restroom/shower building. Silver Falls State Park will get another campground, a North Gateway Visitors Center and a new North Canyon trailhead and parking lot.

In Central Oregon, construction is scheduled to begin on a visitor center and restroom at the perennially packed Smith Rock State Park north of Bend. Parking and traffic improvements there should also ease congestion and meet future demand.

The Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day—the only remains of a once-flourishing Chinese community in that town and former home to the most prominent herbal medicine practitioner between Seattle and San Francisco—is also on the list for funding. That property will expand through acquisition of a city park, allowing for the construction of new structures to house an interpretive center and historical materials.

Oregon State Parks will receive two disbursements of $25 million each, with the first payment coming in May 2022 and the second in March 2023. Those funds must be spent within three years, and initial work is slated to begin next fall.

Looking ahead to 2023, Milo McIver State Park in Estacada and Nehalem Bay State Park, south of Manzanita, are both getting new camping loops and facility upgrades. The A and B campgrounds at Tillamook County’s Cape Lookout will be moved to higher ground in response to ocean erosion.

“The Legislature’s incredibly generous act allows us to make significant and much needed upgrades to facilities and infrastructure, as well as modernize and expand some campgrounds,” Lisa Sumption, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, said in a press release. “This support for the park system’s future is especially meaningful as we commemorate our centennial in 2022 and our commitment to provide world-class park experiences.”