We’re headed outside on New Year’s Day for First Day Hikes in 21 Oregon State Parks. Park rangers or volunteers will lead most of the hikes. Day-use parking fees are waived for all visitors at participating parks Jan. 1 only.
Plan for any type of weather condition and remember to bring your binoculars for wildlife viewing.
Participating parks and meeting areas:
- L.L. “Stub” Stewart Memorial State Park, 10 a.m. at the Hilltop Day-use Area.
- Milo McIver State Park, 10 a.m. at the Riverbend lower boat launch parking lot.
- Tryon Creek State Natural Area, 9 a.m. at the Nature Center.
- Guy Talbot State Park, 1 p.m. at the parking lot near the information kiosk.
- Champoeg State Heritage Area, 1 p.m. at the Visitor Center.
- Elijah Bristow State Park, noon horse ride at the equestrian parking area. Bring your own horse.
- North Santiam State Park, 11:30 a.m. at the picnic shelter.
- Silver Falls State Park, 10 a.m. at the South Falls Lodge porch.
- Collier Memorial State Park, 10 a.m. at the Logging Museum Cookhouse.
- TouVelle State Park, 11 a.m. at picnic shelter A near the park entrance.
- Cape Lookout State Park, noon at the Cape Lookout Trail parking lot.
- D River State Recreation Area, 10 a.m. at the stairway
- Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center, 1 p.m. at the center.
- Fort Stevens State Park, 10 a.m. at the Area C parking lot.
- Harris Beach State Park, 9 a.m. at the day-use parking lot.
- Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, 10 a.m. at Siuslaw North Jetty last parking lot near the Coast Guard tower.
- Oswald West State Park, 9 a.m. at the main park lot, Short Sands Beach Trailhead.
- Port Orford Heads State Park, 10 a.m. at the restored lifeboat pavilion.
- South Beach State Park, 10 a.m. at the South Jetty Trailhead.
- Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, 10 a.m. at the day-use parking are near the Lake Marie trail sign.
- Cottonwood Canyon State Park, 11 a.m. at the day-use area
- Emigrant Springs State Heritage Park, 11 a.m. snowshoe hike at the Oregon Trail kiosk west of the park entrance.
- Smith Rock State Park, 10 a.m. at the bivouac campground. Register by calling 541-548-7501 ext. 1 and leave a message with your name, phone number and the number of people in your group.
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.
“We’ve already seen the first migrating gray whales in the past few days and we expect another excellent winter whale watching week. Last winter our volunteers helped people see more than 1,600 gray whales plus a pod of orcas and some humpback whales spotted on the central coast. You never know what you’re going to see while you’re whale watching, but that’s half the fun.” Ranger Luke Parsons, Whale Watching Center
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 whalespoken.org.
Camping, including yurts and cabins, is available at state parks along the coast. Go to oregonstateparks.org to check availability and make a reservation.
OPRD reminds visitors to check www.oregonstateparks.org and www.tripcheck.com 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 site.