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Fees suspended at Oregon and Washington state parks on New Year’s Day

State Parks
Courtesy of Oregon State Parks
Hikers go on a first day of the year adventure at Cottonwood Canyon.

The Oregon State Parks Department is suspending fees on New Year’s Day as a way to get more people to visit. Washington, where a parking pass is typically required to drive into any state park, is also suspending fees as part of that state’s First Day Hikes program.

Oregon has about 250 parks; admission to most is free, but 25 charge parking fees for drivers. Those fees are being dropped for the day, and rangers will lead educational adventures.

For example, people can join a two-mile hike at L. L. Stub Stewart State Park, south of Vernonia. Boomscooter Trail is renowned for wildlife viewing or just enjoying the outdoors.

Oregon parks department spokesman Jason Resch said he’s headed to Tryon State Park on Jan. 1. He sees getting outdoors as somewhat spiritual.

“It’s a first-day adventure. Or maybe a New Year’s resolution,” said Resch.

“Whether it’s just getting outside more, or experiencing something new … To me that is a pretty big part of why I love it so much.”

Washington’s First Day Hikes program was launched in 2011, when that state introduced the Discover Pass for vehicle access to state parks and other state recreation sites. The pass costs $30 annually or $10 for a one-day visit, except on a dozen designated no-fee days each year.

Oregon’s parks department is tweaking its message slightly this year, calling the events “First Day Adventures,” rather than “First Day Hikes.” Agency leaders want to make sure everyone feels welcome.

While first-day adventurers are welcome to go snowshoeing or skiing, no special equipment is needed for the ranger-led events. But many state parks will be cold and snowy. Visitors should dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring water.

A camera or binoculars is also good for viewing wildlife.

Fees for overnight camping and other services remain in place.

Copyright 2022 Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a veteran journalist/producer working for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He started as a cub reporter for newspapers in London, England in 1988. Then in 1991 he moved to Oregon and started freelancing. His work has appeared in publications as varied as The Oregonian, the BBC, the Salem Statesman Journal, Willamette Week, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR and the Voice of America. Kristian has won awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. He was embedded with the Oregon National Guard in Iraq in 2004 and now specializes in business, law, health and politics.