Category Archives: camping

Oregon State Parks to open 1,000 additional eclipse campsites April 19


Starting at 8 a.m. April 19, 2017, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) will open reservations for approximately 1,000 campsites for the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse. These sites are in addition to our regular campsites, most of which have been reserved since November 2016.

About two-thirds of the new sites are inside the path of totality, where visitors will see a total solar eclipse. Most of the others are within 30 miles of totality, in view of a partial eclipse. Prices range from $10 a night for a basic spot in a field or parking lot to $31 a night for an RV site with full hookups. All sites include an $8 nonrefundable reservation fee.

“We want to make this once-in-a-lifetime event available to as many campers as we can safely accommodate. That’s why we decided to add additional campsites, all at an affordable cost,” said OPRD spokesman Chris Havel.

All sites will have a three-night minimum, with check-in on Friday, Aug. 18 and check-out Monday, Aug. 21. Customers can make reservations beginning at 8 a.m. April 19 at oregonstateparks.org or reserveamerica.com or by calling the reservation line at 800-452-5687.  Questions? Call the Oregon State Parks Information Center at 1-800-551-6949, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Customers may also email their questions to park.info@oregon.gov.

OPRD is making available two types of sites: traditional campsites and temporary eclipse camping spots.

Traditional campsites, representing about a third of the total sites available, are at parks that normally offer non-reservable, “first-come, first-served” camping. These have picnic tables and fire rings, but some do not have showers. No first-come, first-served camping will be available at these parks the nights of Aug. 18-20:

  • Coast: Beachside, Carl G. Washburne (both outside the path of totality).
  • Willamette Valley: North Santiam, Cascadia (both in path of totality); Cascara Campground at Fall Creek Reservoir (outside the path of totality).
  • Central and Eastern: Farewell Bend, Unity Lake, Clyde Holliday, and Bates (all in path of totality); Cottonwood Canyon, Catherine Creek, Ukiah-Dale, Minam, Red Bridge, Hilgard Junction, Lake Owyhee and Jasper Point (all outside path of totality) .

Two-thirds of the sites are in temporary eclipse camping areas at campgrounds and day-use parks with sufficient space and facilities. These $10 and $11 per-night sites provide a place to park and camp in a parking lot or field, but little else. They do not have hookups, fire pits or picnic tables. Some are at parks without flush toilets or showers; OPRD is adding portable toilets to accommodate extra people. Visitors with reservations for a temporary eclipse site will be assigned a space on arrival at the park.

  • Coast: South Jetty at South Beach, Fogarty Creek, Driftwood Beach and Governor Patterson Memorial (all in path of totality).
  • Valleys: Silver Falls, Willamette Mission (all in path of totality); Champoeg (on the edge of totality); Milo McIver (outside path of totality).
  • Central and Eastern: Smith Rock, The Cove Palisades, Farewell Bend (in path of totality); Cottonwood Canyon (outside path of totality).

Site descriptions for all eclipse camping areas are at oregonstateparks.org, along with links to other camping and lodging options in the state. No camping will be available for anyone without a reservation in the campgrounds listed above on Aug. 18-20.

To accommodate additional campers, OPRD will place extra staff in parks in and near totality and bring in portable toilets. OPRD is also collaborating with local and state authorities on traffic, crowd control and safety.

“Transportation planners predict unprecedented traffic and crowds during the eclipse weekend, and we are planning accordingly,” Havel said. “We ask that campers plan to stay off the roads on the morning of Aug. 21 and respect any fire restrictions.”

Campfires may be prohibited, depending on wildfire danger and the weather forecast. The Oregon Department of Forestry will post any wildfire restrictions at keeporegongreen.org/current-conditions/.

The eclipse will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2017. The 60-mile wide path of totality–when the moon completely blocks the sun–will last for about two minutes starting at 10:15 a.m. on the coast between Newport and Lincoln City. The path of totality then sweeps through the state and on to Idaho, then runs across the United States toward South Carolina. Those outside the path of totality will see a partial eclipse. For more information about the eclipse, visit bit.ly/OregonStateParks2017Eclipse.

Free camping and fishing–make it happen


Celebrate Your Parks on State Parks Day, June 4, 20162016-State-Parks-Day

Camping is free the night of June 4 in traditional sites—full hookup (sewer, electricity and water), electrical hookup (electricity and water), and tent sites.  Parking is free June 4-5 at the 26 parks that charge a day-use parking fee.

Visitors will also be able to fish, crab and clam without a license June 4-5 for Oregon’s Free Fishing Weekend, hosted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). ODFW will offer the gear, bait and instructions at parks around the state, including Benson State Recreation Area in the Columbia River Gorge and Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park and Fort Stevens State Park on the coast.

Campsite reservations may be made by calling 800-452-5687 before 5 p.m. June 3. Or, reserve online at www.oregonstateparks.org. While the campsite rental is free, an $8 nonrefundable reservation fee still applies. Of the 52 state park campgrounds, 42 take reservations.

Parks throughout the state will host activities including guided hikes—Saturday, June 4 is also National Trails Day—plus open houses, tours, special barbecues and guest appearances by J.R. Beaver, Oregon State Parks mascot.

  • Silver Falls State Park east of Salem will have free refreshments, a guided waterfall tour and its annual Foot Race Challenge, with a 5K, 6-mile and kids’ race.
  • Stub Stewart State Park west of Portland will host a volunteer work party in the morning, followed by free lunch at Hilltop Day-use Area, a guided bike ride, scavenger hunt, skins and skulls display and more.
  • See a fur trappers’ encampment at Champoeg State Heritage Area. Walk among the tents and work stations, ask questions of the interpreters and watch demonstrations of trapping, shooting, cooking and packing for the fur trade.

Aug. 14 Star Party set for Bates State Park in eastern Oregon (2015)


New moon and Perseids meteor shower pair for perfect night sky watching

Eastern Oregon night sky

Dark skies in eastern Oregon are perfect for stargazing. This photo was taken at Wallowa Lake State Park in July.

The night sky over Bates State Park east of John Day will set the scene for a Star Party Aug. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Join local amateur astronomers and volunteers with telescopes to view summer constellations, star clusters and planets.

“We are fortunate in rural eastern Oregon to have incredible dark night skies, with little to no light pollution,” said Park Manager Dennis Bradley. “Add a new moon and the Perseids meteor shower to the mix, and we have the perfect formula for an unforgettable evening.”

The Perseids meteor shower produces up to 60 bright meteors per hour from mid-July through late August, peaking this year Aug. 12-13. The night sky will be darker than usual on Aug. 14 because the new moon will not be visible and thus no moonlight.

The evening includes an old-fashioned campfire and storytelling from folks who lived in Bates when it was still a thriving logging town. You and your family can gather around the campfire for singing, roasting marshmallows and munching on s’mores provided by the park. The event and day-use parking are free.

Saturday morning take a tour of nearby Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area and the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site museum in John Day. Both the dredge and museum are free.

Bates State Park (park information and driving directions) has 28 primitive sites available first-come, first-served. Pitch your tent or sleep under the stars. Bates State Park is 30 miles northeast of John Day located on Middle Fork Lane off Highway 7, one mile north of its intersection with U.S. 26 at Austin Junction.