For both camping and day-use; beaches may follow, if social distancing practices aren't followed; Multnomah Falls also being closed due to crowds
SALEM, Oregon (KTVZ) – At the direction of Gov. Kate Brown and in keeping with the guidance that all Oregonians should stay home and stay healthy, the Oregon State Park system will close at the end of the day Monday, earlier than initially announced.
Day-use areas will be closed at 5 p.m. Campers need to check out no later than 1 p.m.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department previously ordered a campground closure that would have started April 3, and advised travelers to avoid day trips to full parks.
"With new guidance from the governor, and clear signs that travelers are not following advice to avoid full parks, a statewide state park closure is necessary," the agency said. "Beaches can be closed by OPRD at their discretion and will be closed if social distancing practices are not followed."
All daytime park services will be closed statewide, including parking areas and restrooms. Campers will be refunded for all canceled nights. All travelers are advised to follow the guidance to stay home to stay healthy.
City and county parks and other public land managers are open at their discretion, with the recommendation they do so only if they can adhere to social distancing practices.
“We would have preferred an orderly shutdown of the system and to remain open for daytime visits, but our concern for the effects on rural health care systems requires us to move up and expand our plans,” said Lisa Sumption, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
“We know this will cause a disruption, since we’re suspending service to everyone, even people who live near a park," she said, but added, "Reducing contact between people is more important than recreation at the moment.”
Know before you go:
- Travel Oregon travel alerts: https://traveloregon.com/travel-alerts/.
- State park service reductions and closures: https://bit.ly/OPRD-covid.
- Oregon Department of Forestry: https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife: https://myodfw.com/visit-odfw-wildlife-areas
I-84 parking lot at Multnomah Falls will close Monday as USFS closes falls area
MULTNOMAH FALLS -- ODOT will close the Interstate 84 parking lot at Multnomah Falls early Monday morning as the U.S. Forest Service shuts down access to the entire falls area because crowds haven’t complied with safe social distancing practices in place for the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Starting about 6 a.m. Monday, the Forest Service will put up fences along the south side of the Historic Columbia River Highway to shut down access to the Multnomah Falls area, including the plaza, viewing areas and the trail to the upper platform. The lodge is already closed.
At the same time, ODOT will close the I-84 parking lot out of concern that safety issues could develop on the entry and exit ramps and to deter people tempted to illegally access the closed trails. ODOT will also close public parking along the north side of the Historic Highway near the falls.
The lots will remain closed until ODOT and the Forest Service determine that conditions have sufficiently improved to reopen access.
The Historic Columbia River Highway remains open, but visitors should expect major delays Tuesday, March 24 at Horsetail Falls for tree work.
- Starting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, ODOT will periodically stop traffic in both directions while the Forest Service removes trees that may threaten the highway.
- Each closure will last 20 to 30 minutes, controlled by flaggers, and will continue until late afternoon.
In addition, the Columbia Gorge Express will no longer stop at Multnomah Falls but remains available for local riders. Because of COVID-19, the service now operates only twice a day, early morning and late afternoon, and only on weekdays, not weekends. This schedule continues to provide access to Gorge communities but will not stop at Multnomah Falls. Go to Columbia Area Transit for more information.