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Some C.O. campgrounds about to reopen, but with differences

(Update: Adding comments from Deschutes National Forest official)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Deschutes National Forest will begin reopening select campgrounds, starting Friday, but the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health guidelines will make for some different camping experiences.

Of the 80 campgrounds under Deschutes National Forest jurisdiction, 37 will be back up and running, in limited fashion.

Here is a full list of the campgrounds that will be opening, as well as the ones staying closed.

If you choose to go camping, forest officials want you to be aware of changes in place to keep people safe.

For one, reservations are highly encouraged. That reduces the contact between campers and campground hosts. You can make reservations through If a campsite is not reserved, it will still be available on a first come, first serve basis.

“Also, this season, if a campground has a hand pump, we likely will not have that system up and running just because that’s a very high contact point of touch for folks,” forest Campground Permit Administrator Jaimie Olle told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday. “The only exception of that will be our horse camps. Those will still have hand pump water for stock and livestock.”

Essentially, it means: Bring your own water this season.

The other campgrounds will be reopening through two other phases set to go into effect later this month, officials announced this week, as crews are cutting down hazardous trees at several different sites.

The next phase is planned for June 15, which is when seven other campgrounds in the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District will reopen.

The remaining ones are expected to reopen in mid to late June, or don't have a set date at this time.

“We can’t be falling trees if there’s anyone camped in campsites,” Olle said. “I know it’s hard, I know we all want to get back outside, and we’re really excited for everyone to be able to do so. To help us expedite that process, we just ask that folks stay out of closed campgrounds, so that we can get those trees safely on the ground.”

The goal is to have the majority of campgrounds opened by the Fourth of July.

Olle said it’s hard to predict how busy this season will be.

“It could be busy with folks using this as an opportunity to get outdoors in their backyard, or it could, you know, be a little on the quieter side, as folks are hesitant to travel,” Olle said. “It really remains to be seen at this time.”

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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.


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