Outdoor Recreation During COVID-19

Columbia County Update

Columbia County Parks are closed to recreational overnight camping through May 31, 2020. All park playgrounds are closed. Beaver Boat Ramp and the Gilbert River Boat launch are open. Please call 503-397-2353 with any questions.

Columbia County Parks, Forests, and Recreation→

Outdoor Recreation Guidance

Hitting the slopes during COVID-19

The winter season is upon us and, with it, an overwhelming desire for many Oregonians to take to the slopes. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still running amok and that means that winter sports are going to look a little different this year.  

Travel Oregon has put together a comprehensive webpage that contains all the tips and tricks you’ll need to simultaneously maximize fun and safety while you travel to coveted hot spots like Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor this season. You are encouraged to review the guidance put together by both OHA and the National Ski Areas Association’s Ski Well, Be Well program. However, at a high-level, it is most important that you remember the following: 

  • Visit resort websites in advance and come prepared
  • Lift ticket reservations or pre-paid tickets may be required 
  • Midweek visitation is encouraged 
  • Lesson and equipment rental reservations may be required 
  • On-site restaurants and lodge use may be limited
  • Face coverings are mandatory
  • Physical distancing is expected
  • Extra cleaning protocols are in place
  • Be patient, flexible and kind

Travel Oregon indicates that, in general, ski areas will be operating at reduced capacity on peak days this season to ensure appropriate social distancing. As such, make sure that you are always planning ahead to ensure your day on the mountain is as enjoyable as possible. 

The best way to get outside while keeping yourself and others safe is to stick close to home:

  • Backyard picnics on the lawn or patio with those in your immediate household
  • Walks or jogs in your neighborhood while maintaining physical distance
  • Gardening, washing your car, or just soaking up the sunshine in your yard

Reopening guidance for outdoor recreation organizations→

If you do choose to travel outside of your residence, consider the following:

Please prepare:

  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • If you visit, stay local and close to home—meaning less than 50 miles in urban areas.
  • Only visit with members of your household.
  • Bring all supplies—food, water, hand sanitizer—needed for a short trip.
  • If a park appears crowded, leave and come back another time.

If there’s space at the park, please:

  • Wear a face covering in congested areas. Homemade is fine.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from people who aren’t from your household. Further apart is better.
  • Cover your cough with a tissue (then throw it away), or the inside of your elbow.
  • Leave no trace: pack out everything you bring with you.
  • Stick to low-risk activities to reduce stress on local emergency response and health care systems.
  • Keep your visit short. Restrooms and other buildings may be closed.
  • Watch for signs at the park for more information.

For your health and safety, please avoid:

  • Participating in group sports
  • Attending social gatherings of 25 people or more
  • Areas where large numbers of people congregate: restrooms, parking areas, trailheads, narrow bridge crossings and other places that could be difficult to physically distance yourself

Face Coverings

  • Carry a face covering with you to put on when passing someone in a park or on a trail
  • Wear a face covering in a situation where physical distancing is difficult 


Oregon Department of Forestry:

All state forests ​camping is closed, including dispersed camping. ​This closure is due to health and safety haza​rds caused by ongoing ​sanitation issues. Effective 5/11/2020.​​​

Read the full news release​.

Oregon State Parks:

Coastal parks remain closed 

Camping is closed until and through June 8, 2020 at least. The decision of whether to reopen at this time or not will come before June 9.

Water Activities

Know the water conditions

  • Lakes and rivers in Northwest Oregon are still cold enough to shock and immobilize even the strongest of swimmers.
  • Rivers are high and swift from rain and snow melt and may be carrying debris.
  • Avoid fast-flowing waters. This includes rivers and ocean beaches with riptides.
  • Know your limits. Drowning often occurs when a swimmer tires.
  • Don’t swim alone.

In addition to monitoring river conditions, Public Health urges people of all ages to follow these tips for safe swimming and recreating in all bodies of water:

  • Never leave children unsupervised in or near water. Drowning can happen swiftly and silently. Supervision requires complete attention, even if another adult is present.
  • Wear a life jacket when swimming anywhere without lifeguards or whenever on a boat, personal watercraft, inner tube or other water sport equipment.
  • Ensure children always wear life jackets. Inflatable toys do not keep children safe. By law, children 12 and younger must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or vest on all vessels 18 feet or smaller.
  • Avoid alcohol and marijuana use when swimming or boating.
  • Don’t dive into shallow water or jump off of bridges or cliffs.
  • Swim in designated swimming areas only. Signs will be viewable letting you know when and where it’s safe to swim.

For current advisories on Cyanobacteria (Harmful Algae) Blooms, please visit Oregon Health Authority website→

Message from Oregon State Parks

For additional information:

Public Health Quick Links
General Information
Michael Paul
Phone Numbers
General Public Health Inquiries and 24-hour Emergency Contact: 503-397-7247
Fax: 888-204-8568
Emergencies: Dial 911
230 Strand St.
Columbia County Courthouse Annex
St. Helens,

Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. to 4:30