First Day Hikes are back for 2016

Free parking at participating parks Jan. 1

Free guided First Day Hikes are set for 27 state parks on New Year’s Day. Park rangers or volunteers will lead most of the hikes. The usual $5 day-use parking fee is waived for all visitors at participating parks Jan. 1 only.

If you go

Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring water as well as a camera or binoculars for wildlife viewing.

This year, OPRD is asking participants to share photos of their First Day Hike via social media by using the hashtag #ORfirstdayhikes Twitter and Instagram or tagging “Oregon State Parks” on Facebook. Images can also be e-mailed to

The hikes

Luckiamute State Natural Area

Luckiamute State Natural Area

Click on the links below for more information about the hike at each park.


Columbia  Gorge

Willamette Valley/Cascades

Southern Oregon


Hat Rock State Park

Hat Rock State Park

Eastern/Central Oregon

Whale Watch Week set Dec. 27-31

Whale Watching Spoken Here site

Whale Watching Spoken Here volunteers are stationed at 24 sites along the coast.

If you’re headed to the Oregon coast next week, watch for migrating whales with trained volunteers during the annual winter Whale Watching Week from Dec. 27-31. Volunteers with the Whale Watching Spoken Here program will be stationed at 24 sites from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on those days to help people spot gray whales that are heading south to Mexico.

Volunteers will also share information about whale migration and feeding habits. The winter migration typically lasts until mid-January. A map of the watch sites is available at

Camping, including yurts and cabins, is available at state parks along the coast. Go to to check availability and make a reservation.

OPRD reminds visitors to check and for weather-related alerts and closures before heading to the coast. Be aware of winter storms and high waves—respect closures, stay off the sand and watch storms from an elevated location.

Celebrate the holidays with Oregon State Parks

A life-sized, lit-up orca whale. A winter solstice nature walk. A historic house decked out in Victorian-era holiday decor. All this and more is in store at Oregon State Parks this month in celebration of the season. And all are put on in part — or completely — by dedicated volunteers. So why not come out and experience a wintery side of your local state park?

38th Annual Christmas Festival at Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls Christmas Festival

Story time at the South Falls Lodge.

When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12-13

Where: South Falls Day Use Area (park information and driving directions)

What: Visit Santa and enjoy live music, refreshments, roving bagpipes, bird box building, bird seed ornaments and other Christmas crafts. Enter a drawing for a wreath raffle and shop for gifts at the Nature Store.

Cost: $5 parking per vehicle; parking permits available for purchase at the park, or display a current Oregon State Parks campground receipt or a current state parks annual parking permit. No charge for most activities.

Information: Silver Falls Blog

Christmas in the Cookhouse and Collier Memorial State Park

Christmas at the Cookhouse at Collier Memorial State Park

Decorating cookies at the craft table.

When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12

Where: Collier Memorial Logging Museum, 46000 Highway 97 N., Chiloquin (park information and driving directions)

What: An old-fashioned Christmas celebration with snacks, story corner, make-and-take ornaments and other activities for the young and young-at-heart.

Cost: Admission is free, but a canned or dry-packaged food donation for the local food pantry is appreciated.

Information: 541-783-2471, Ext 23.

Winter Solstice Celebration at Tryon Creek State Natural Area

When: 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19

Where: 11321 SW. Terwilliger Blvd., Portland (park information and driving directions)

What: Celebrate the changing of the seasons with the shortest day and longest night of the year. Learn the science behind the solstice, explore the forest during an evening guided walk with a trained naturalist, make a winter craft and enjoy treats from a Dutch oven. Parents and adults: please accompany your children at all times.

Cost: Free; no registration is required.

Information: 503-636-9886 x225 or click on the calendar of events at

Historic Hughes House Victorian Christmas and lighthouse tours at Cape Blanco State Park

Hughes House at Cape Blanco

Local clubs, churches and organizations decorate the 12 rooms.

When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 19-20 and Dec. 26-28

Where: Hughes House and Cape Blanco Lighthouse, Cape Blanco Road, Port Orford (park information and driving directions)

What: The Cape Blanco Heritage Society opens the elegant 1898 Victorian farmhouse especially for the holidays. Heritage Society volunteers host the open house, which includes cider and cookies. The Victorian Shoppe at the Hughes House sells unique gifts.

The Cape Blanco Lighthouse workroom will also be open for tours both weekends, weather permitting. The tower is closed due to pending repairs.

Cost: Free

Information: (541) 332-0521 or (541) 332-0248

Holiday Lights at Shore Acres State Park

Gray whale at Shore Acres Holiday Lights

This annual tradition began in 1987 when volunteers with Friends of Shore Acres decided to “string a few lights.”

When: 4-9:30 p.m. through Dec. 31 (park information and driving directions)

Where: 89039 Cape Arago Highway, Coos Bay

What: Walk through an outdoor holiday light display of 325,000-plus lights and “light sculptures” of pelicans, puffins, jellyfish, a life-size leaping orca whale, butterflies, sea lions, leaping frogs and much more. Shop in the volunteer-run gift shop and visit the historic Garden House for hot cider, punch, coffee and cookies.

Cost: $5 parking per vehicle; parking permits available for purchase at the park, or display a current Oregon State Parks campground receipt, a state parks annual parking permit, or a coastal passport. No charge for lights viewing.

Information: Friends of Shore Acres