Free Camping And Fishing In Oregon


State Parks Day is Saturday, June 6 and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department invites visitors to their local state park for a day of free camping and parking.

Overnight camping is free at all tent and RV sites in open state park campgrounds for stays over the night of June 6. Day-use parking is free June 6 at the 25 parks that charge a day-use fee.

“State Parks Day is our annual ‘thank you’ to Oregonians for supporting their state parks,” said Lisa Sumption, OPRD director. “2020 has been a difficult year for many people, and we’re proud to be able to provide safe natural places for folks to de-stress and enjoy the outdoors.”

State Parks Day is organized by OPRD and has been held annually since 1997. In the past, State Parks Day included guided hikes, interagency activities with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Lottery, free food and interpretation activities.

Reduced staff, budget and resources keep the agency from hosting events this year. COVID-19 precautions also limit interactive opportunities but the public is still encouraged to visit a state park local to them and enjoy the outdoors.

The majority of state park campgrounds still remain closed until June 9; however, a few are currently open to first-come, first-served guests:

• Goose Lake, south of Lakeview

• Jackson Kimball, northwest of Chiloquin

• Minam, north of La Grande

• Hilgard Junction, near La Grande

• Catherine Creek, near Union

• Clyde Holliday, near John Day

• Cottonwood Canyon, southeast of The Dalles

• More campgrounds could be added before June 6, please check online at stateparks.oregon.gov

Campers should expect reduced levels of service at the campgrounds, including fewer staff and limited access to facilities.

Oregon State Parks do not receive tax dollars and are primarily funded by Oregon Lottery revenue and user fees. Learn more on stateparks.oregon.gov.

You can also fish for free in Oregon Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7.

No fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement or Two-Rod Validation) are required to fish, crab or clam in Oregon that weekend. Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. See the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations to find out more and remember to check for any in season regulation changes at https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/

June’s Free Fishing Weekend is usually a special one for ODFW staff and fishing groups that host events all over the state, bringing all the gear newcomers need to try fishing. Unfortunately, due to concerns and restrictions related to COVID-19, ODFW is not hosting or sponsoring any events this year.

A number of waterbodies are being stocked in advance of Free Fishing Weekend as in past years. (Due to concerns about crowding where fish are stocked, ODFW is not currently providing its trout stocking schedule or announcing which waterbodies are stocked.) Hatchery trout are a great fish for beginners and there are plenty of tips at MyODFW.com including a video series about How to fish for trout. Beginners can also consider warmwater fishing, which is a good opportunity during summer.

Nonresidents can also fish for free June 6-7, but there are still special restrictions on the coast. Currently, clamming is closed to nonresidents coastwide. Crabbing is open to nonresidents along most of the Coast but is closed to nonresidents in the Columbia River and in ocean areas north of Cape Falcon (nonresidents may crab in bays and estuaries north of Cape Falcon e.g. Necanium River estuary).

Both residents and nonresidents should follow ongoing precautions in place due the virus:

• Check for access before you go. Many spots have reopened to public access but some may still be closed. Remember even if fishing is open, the boat ramp or park 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.

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Stick close to home. Don’t travel far to hunt, fish, clam or crab.

• Be prepared. Restrooms and other facilities may be more limited. Bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, food, etc.

• 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.

If you are planning to crab or clam, remember to call the ODA Shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474 or check ODA’s Recreational Shellfish page beforehand. The Oregon Department of Agriculture regularly tests shellfish and closes areas when naturally occurring biotoxins get to levels that make crabs and clams unsafe to eat.