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Gray whales are on the move during Dec. 27-31 Whale Watch Week

Watching for gray whales at Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint.

Watching for gray whales at Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint.

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

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 site.

First Day Hikes are back for 2016 (2015)

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