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.
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 email@example.com.
Click on the links below for more information about the hike at each park.
- L.L. “Stub” Stewart Memorial State Park, 9 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.
- Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, 10 a.m. at the Tooth Rock Trailhead
- Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, 1 p.m. at the Hatfield East Trailhead
- Champoeg State Heritage Area, hikes (2) at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Meet at the Visitor Center.
- Elijah Bristow State Park, noon horse ride at the equestrian parking area. Bring your own horse.
- Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area, 10 a.m. at the trailhead kiosk.
- Luckiamute State Natural Area, 10 a.m. at the North Luckiamute Trailhead if conditions allow. Alternate meeting site at the South Luckiamute Trailhead. North Santiam State Park, 11:30 a.m. at the picnic shelter.
- 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.
- Willamette Mission State Park, hikes (2) at 10 a.m. and noon. Meet at the Wheatland Ferry bicycle trailhead parking lot.
- CANCELLED OC&E Woods Line State Trail. Too much snow in the parking areas and on the trail for a pleasant hike.
- TouVelle State Recreation Site, 11 a.m. at the parking lot next to Area F.
- Valley of the Rogue State Park, 11 a.m. at the park program area.
- Beverly Beach State Park, 10 a.m. in the day-use area
- Bullards Beach State Park, 10 a.m. near the entrance to B Loop.
- Cape Lookout State Park, Noon in the Cape Lookout Trail parking lot.
- Fort Stevens State Park, 10 a.m. in the North Coffenbury Lake parking lot.
- Harris Beach State Park, 10 a.m. in the extra vehicle parking lot.
- Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, 10 a.m. at the group campground parking lot off Canary Road.
- Taft Beach in Lincoln City, 10 a.m. at the #49 Beach Access, 825, SW 51st Street
- Nehalem Bay State Park, 10 a.m. in the parking lot behind the registration booth.
- South Beach State Park, 10 a.m. at the South Jetty Trailhead.
- William M. Tugman State Park, 10 a.m. in the day-use parking lot by the boat ramp.