The author of "The Best Outdoor Adventures near Portland, Oregon", Adam Sawyer talked about the new "protocol" for camping this summer. Click here for more information about Adam.
“We want to go camping, but are we allowed? If so, where can we go? And is it even safe?”
All valid questions regarding the time-honored Northwest summer activity of camping. Covid-19 has altered the way we approach any activities where we might come into contact with other people. And the act of camping is, unfortunately, not immune. On the plus side, however, a number of protocols have been developed and enough milestones have been met to allow for the re-opening or partial re-opening of a number of campgrounds across the state. Though admittedly, things are a bit of a moving target right now as curves flatten and cases spike alternately. Check before you go.
Now then, where can we go and what can we do to camp safely this summer? Here are some guidelines and very useful links designed to help you stay safe, and find the best camping fit for you and your family.
Visit Parks Close to Home
It is recommended that you go camping within a 50-mile radius of home.
Understand that you will probably have to be a little more self-reliant
Staffing and services are going to be reduced and or limited. That means some restrooms, showers, garbage, vendor services, etc, might not be open, available, or maintained as often. Bring along any and all supplies you would possibly need for the outing.
Reservations might work a little differently at the moment
Many State Forest camp spots are first come first served. So have a backup plan. You will still utilize Recreation.gov for National Forest camping reservations. The ReserveAmerica website is used to reserve camp spots at State Parks, but instead of the one day to 9-month window, reservations are currently only available for one day to two weeks out. So plan accordingly.
Be Extra Cautious and Exercise Good Judgement
Because firefighting and search and rescue/medical services have been reduced or reallocated, it is important that you adhere to campfire restrictions, and while camping, don’t take any risks that might require rescue or health care. Many campgrounds have loop and facility closures in place to reduce risk, but you still need to practice and abide by the same social distancing and public health guidelines that you would back in town. Camp with your quarantine crew (the people you live with).
If you really want to ensure a socially distant camping experience, consider dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is allowed in Oregon State Forests year-round. There are no fee or permit requirements. Campers are required to adhere to ODF regulations regarding the placement of campsites, campfires, sanitation, and stay limits. Campfires and charcoal barbeques are not allowed in dispersed campsites during the Regulated Use portion of fire season. There are no maps for dispersed campsites.
CDC Guidelines for Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities
US Forest Service Covid-19 Updates and Information
Covid-19 Response: Oregon Department of Forestry Updates
Oregon State Parks Limited Camping Announcement and Updates
Oregon State Parks Interactive Park Status Map