Published 05/21/2020 at 5:43 AM PDT
By OREGON TRAVEL DAILY STAFF
(Salem, Oregon) – A handful of truly wild areas of eastern Oregon overseen by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) are now open to overnight camping. Western Oregon wildlife areas do not allow overnight camping even under normal circumstances so these changes apply only to some eastern Oregon wildlife areas. (Above: Bridge Creek Wildlife Area, courtesy ODFW)
Note that only Elkhorn, Wenaha and Summer Lake maintain established campgrounds; the other wildlife areas offer dispersed camping. Wildlife areas open to visitors at 4 a.m. If restrooms are present on these areas, they may not be maintained daily and are not supplied with hand sanitizer so visitors are reminded to bring their own supplies.
Below is the list of ODFW wildlife areas that will once again allow overnight camping.
Bridge Creek Wildlife Area, Umatilla and Morrow counties
Elkhorn Wildlife Area, Baker and Union counties
Lower Deschutes Wildlife Area, Wasco County
Lostine Wildlife Area, Wallowa County
Philip W Schneider Wildlife Area, Grant County
Prineville Reservoir Wildlife Area, Crook County
Summer Lake Wildlife Area, Lake County
White River Wildlife Area, Wasco County
Wenaha Wildlife Area, Wallowa County
Visitors to all wildlife areas and other outdoor recreation sites – including the beaches – are reminded to follow a few guilelines.
Stay home if you are sick.
Check for access before you go. Even if fishing and hunting are open, the boat ramp or natural area where you want to go might be closed. ODFW does not control access to land or facilities it doesn’t manage, so check with the land manager or facility owner where you want to go about what’s open before you leave home.
Stick close to home. Don’t travel far to hunt or fish. Wildlife areas are opening to camping but other lodging/campgrounds may not be.
Be prepared. Restrooms and other facilities may be more limited. Bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, food, etc. Buy your license online before you go.
Avoid crowds. Go someplace else if your destination looks crowded.
Practice social distancing. Keep six feet between you and anyone who doesn’t live in your immediate household, including while on a boat or at a fish cleaning station.
Wash your hands often. Keep up on personal hygiene and bring your own water, soap, and hand sanitizer with you.
Pack out what you pack in. Take any garbage with you, including disposable gloves and masks.
Wildlife areas in Oregon never actually closed to day-use, but overnight camping was closed on March 22 as part of COVID-19 precautions.
ODFW said it also reminds visitors that they require parking permits at many of these wildlife areas, and these can be purchased online. The permit also comes with the purchase of an annual hunting license. Note that black bear and turkey hunting seasons continue until May 31 on many of these eastern Oregon wildlife areas.
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) said that while the Prineville Reservoir Wildlife Area has opened for camping, the nearby Prineville Reservoir State Park remains closed to all camping. This includes all boat-in camping on the reservoir and dispersed camping at Roberts Bay and along the unimproved North Road.
OPRD-managed campgrounds and dispersed camping remain closed to camping at least through and including June 8. Updates and details about this decision are posted on OPRD’s COVID-19 FAQ at oregonstateparks.org. Many parks are open for daytime use - visitors can check the park status map for a complete list.
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