Category Archives: state parks

Whale Watching Week returns Dec. 27-31 as whales migrate past Oregon coast


Whale Watching Week on the Oregon Coast

Trained Whale Watching Spoken Here volunteers will be stationed at 24 sites along the Oregon Coast.

While many of us will be enjoying our shiny new gifts during the upcoming holiday week, another group of mammals has an entirely different goal: migration.

Gray whales have been cruising past the Oregon coast for two weeks now, part of their annual trip south to the warm lagoons off the coast of Baja, Mexico. Starting in chilly Alaskan waters, the whales swim over 6,000 miles down the west coast of North America. Experts estimate about 20,000 gray whales join the migration each year.

To celebrate the occasion, Oregon State Parks is holding the annual Whale Watching Week, December 27-31. Each day 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers will be stationed at 24 points along the coast, ready to help visitors with whale watching tips and provide fun facts about the aquatic creatures.

Not sure where to start? Stop by the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, which is the info hub for all things whales. The center boasts excellent views of the surrounding surf, several whale exhibits, and free maps and brochures.

One of the newest exhibits is a high-definition webcam, which will be used to live stream whale activity every day of the event. The man behind the camera, Ranger Luke Parsons, hopes the technology will—among other things—create a larger awareness and compassion for whales and marine life. The live streams will be broadcast on the Oregon State Parks YouTube channel,  http://bit.ly/OregonStateParksYouTube, weather permitting.

“Whales are a special part of the Oregon coast,” said Parsons. “Nearly 20,000 people visit our whale watch sites each winter and are greeted by our excellent volunteers. I hope visitors walk away feeling a little more connected to these animals, along with a greater appreciation of our oceans.”

If you think a day spent spotting gray whales sounds fun, visit whalespoken.wordpress.com for a map of the 24 volunteer-staffed sites. You can also visit oregonstateparks.org for more information about extended stays at one of the coastal state parks.

Start the New Year in nature


Free First Day Hikes set for Jan. 1

The First Day Hikes tradition continues New Year’s Day 2018 with our seventh annual event. All 25 hikes in 23 Oregon state parks are free and guided by park rangers or volunteers who will share stories about a park’s geology, history, wildlife and plants. Day-use parking fees are waived for all visitors at participating parks Jan. 1 only.

To see a list of parks hosting hikes and to register for a hike, visit the Oregon State Parks Store, http://bit.ly/ParkStoreEvents. Online registration is new this year–although not required–and will help park staff plan for the hike and provide them with participant contact information should hike details change.

“Bundle up and enjoy your first walk of the year with us,” says Lisa Sumption, Oregon Parks and Recreation director. “First Day Hikes are a fun, healthy way to start 2018 and a great way to see that Oregon state parks are great any time of year.”

Be prepared for inclement weather, dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, bring water and remember to carry binoculars for viewing wildlife. Check the hike listings at http://bit.ly/ParkStoreEvents for details about recommended ages for children hiking and whether pets are allowed.

Bring your snowshoes to the Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area hike.

Parking fee waived Nov. 24 for ‘Green Friday’


Bicycling Fort Stevens State Park trails

Bicycling Fort Stevens State Park trails.

Play free on Nov. 24 to ce ‘Green Friday.’  We’re waiving day-use parking fees in 26 Oregon State Parks the day after Thanksgiving.

“We started this tradition three years ago to encourage people to opt outside,” said OPRD director Lisa Sumption. “Why not get some fresh air with your family and create a new holiday tradition?”

To help celebrate, the nonprofit Oregon State Parks Foundation is offering free hot drinks and snacks at Tryon Creek State Natural Area, Fort Stevens State Park, Silver Falls State Park and Cape Blanco State Park. Refreshments — donated by Starbucks Coffee, Nossa Familia Coffee, Smith Tea, Stevens Cocoa and KIND Bars — will be served by volunteers from the local Friends Groups.

Parking is free year-round at almost all state parks; the waiver applies to the 26 parks that charge $5 daily for parking. The waiver applies from open to close on Nov. 24, except at Shore Acres State Park, where it expires at 3 p.m. for the Holiday Lights event that runs Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. A list of parks that require day-use parking permits is at bit.ly/OregonStateParksParking.

Daily parking permits can be purchased on site, but one- and two-year passes are also available online at store.oregonstateparks.org.

Visit the Oregon State Parks website for directions to each park: oregonstateparks.org.