[Author’s note: Effective November 2020, WA State and Oregon imposed additional restrictions that further limit permissible activities. This article will be amended when these restrictions are eased. See here for further details to help in planning your trip.]
One of the number one questions many have at the moment is what is open. Most of us are wondering what parks, beaches, hiking trails, activities can I currently do in my state. I know many are also interested in heading out on road trips this summer. If you live in Oregon or Washington State or are planning a visit, below is an extensive and up-to-date guide to the recreation areas in the two states.
You’ll also find a great directory of links to most of the national and state parks in Oregon and Washington as well as links to travel guidelines for both states.
Washington and Oregon Recreation & Outdoor Guide
For those seeking to revel in the Pacific Northwest’s outdoor bounty, the Recreate Responsibly Coalition shares six tips for how to #RecreateResponsibly.
- KNOW BEFORE YOU GO Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a Plan B.
- PRACTICE PHYSICAL DISTANCING Adventure only with your immediate household. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.
- STAY CLOSE TO HOME This is not the time to travel long distances to recreate. Most places are only open for day use.
- PLAN AHEAD Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack lunch and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering.
- PLAY IT SAFE Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained.
- LEAVE NO TRACE Respect public lands and communities and take all your garbage with you.
National and State Parks in Oregon and Washington State
Currently, the majority of state parks in Oregon and Washington State are open albeit at limited capacity. Limited overnight camping is available at some sites though reservations are often required. The Oregon State Parks and WA State Parks websites provide the latest updates pertaining to the status of each state park, as well as information about how to make camping reservations.
For additional information regarding Covid-19 restrictions pertaining to recreating in the Pacific Northwest, check out these links.
Also, check out this link for a comprehensive guide to recreational activities in the Gorge that includes both Washington State and Oregon.
Outdoor Travel in Washington Updates
The Experience Washington website, lists the latest travel advisories regarding any Covid-19 restrictions impacting Washington State. As per their website:
“A 4-phase plan was introduced by the Governor on May 1st. The plan sets out a careful course to reemerge from the pandemic. It is designed to incrementally open Washington for business. Currently, most Washington counties are in Phase 1 which allows for some local outdoor recreation that can safely be done while maintaining social distancing.
Phase 2 allows gatherings of no more than 5 people, limited local non-essential traveling, and the opening of restaurants at less than 50% capacity. So far only Whitman, Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Wahkiakum, Skamania, and Stevens counties have been approved for Phase 2.
Visitors and residents should follow the same common-sense precautions as they would with any illness – frequent hand washing, avoidance of sick people, etc.
Some group gatherings have been postponed, and some communities may have more specific health guidelines. Travelers planning a visit should call their hotel and local visitors bureau for information specific to their locations.
We know that travel plans may be disrupted right now, but we’ll be here when you’re ready to reconnect and decompress on a getaway together.”
Effective July 7th, masks are required in Washington State when visiting any indoor setting. This site provides an overview of what’s open in the state. For information regarding travel within a specific region of Washington State, check out these area resources. These links will be updated when non-local travel is encouraged for that region.
The Cascade Loop (Travelers will travel through communities and natural areas with varying levels of public access. Please research the destinations plan explore in advance.)
The Gorge (Clark County is in Phase 2 as of June 5), Skamania County is in Phase 3 As of June 12th and can accommodate responsible local tourism, and Kickitat County is currently in Phase 2.)
Long Beach Peninsula ( Pacific County is in Phase 3 and responsible respectful guests are welcome.)
Olympia & Beyond (Thurston County is now in Phase 3 and non-essential travel may resume.)
Olympic Peninsula (Grays Harbor and Mason Counties are currently in Phase 3. Jefferson and Clallam Counties are currently in Phase 2. Overnight camping in county parks is still not allowed in Clallam County but Jefferson County has approved overnight camping as of June 18.)
San Juan Islands (Welcoming visitors back to the Islands under Phase 2 guidelines which includes the wearing of masks in all San Juan County businesses and public places outdoors. As of July 9, 2020, the governor has paused moving to phase 3 applications for San Juan and other counties that had applied for various changes in Phasing. Please note, that mask-wearing will continue to be mandatory in Phase 3 when that happens. Check out the travel advisory page for San Juan County for the most up-to-date information.)
Seattle (King County (including Seattle) is currently in Phase 2, which allows for partial re-opening of some businesses and activities and limited social gatherings with five or fewer people outside the household.)
Spokane (There are no restrictions on travel to Spokane County.)
Vancouver (In Phase 2 but can accommodate weekend couple trips or small family visits.)
Whidbey & Camano Islands (In Phase 3, non-essential travel is allowed).
The links for a given region will be updated when that area can accommodate non-essential travel.
Outdoor Travel in Oregon Updates
On Travel Oregon’s website, they feature a guide titled “Covid 19: Resources and Updates.” Of particular interest to outdoor enthusiasts is the section “What to Know About Oregon’s Outdoors Right Now” which contains the latest news about how to best enjoy the state’s bounty.
As of July 1, 2020, masks are required throughout Oregon when visiting any indoor setting. On June 30, 2020, Governor Brown extended the Covid-19 emergency order in Oregon until September 4, 2020. Hence, much of the state cannot accommodate non-local travel at this time. The links for a given region will be updated when that area can accommodate out-of-state tourists.
Central Oregon (Central Oregon has entered Phase 2 of reopening and continues to follow safety protocols to ensure visitors enjoy a responsible vacation.)
Southern Oregon is currently accommodating all travel for all permitted activities.
Also, the Washington State Wine Commission and the Oregon Wine Board offer Covid-19 resources on their respective websites designed to assist those interested in visiting the wineries and tasting rooms located throughout Oregon and Washington State respectively. Presently tasting rooms in all regions have been approved to open though check each winery before visiting for their hours and current Covid-19 restrictions.
Even though a given city or region is listed as being open, a particular establishment may choose to remain closed or offer reduced services. So be sure to double check before heading out especially to popular spots like the coastal towns and the Columbia Gorge. Along those lines, hotel and restaurant options continue to be limited. So focus on day trips within one’s home area until a given region indicates it can accommodate non-local tourists.
In the meantime, those interested in experiencing the flavor of the Pacific Northwest from the comforts of their homes, check out this guide for the best PNW beer, cider, spirits, and wine that can be ordered online.