One of the most popular state parks in Central Oregon will be reopening as the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department continues to slowly reopen more state parks on a daily basis.
The department has now reopened at least 45 state parks with limited day-use access as of Monday. More parks will also slowly begin to reopen with limited day use throughout the following weeks if they meet OPRD’s requirements of community readiness, staff readiness, and are able to manage the park and protect the public health of visitors.
From 2011 to 2016, visitation at Smith Rock State Park increased from 450,000 to about 700,000 day use visitors annually.
One popular state park and rock-climbing destination that is scheduled to reopen Thursday is Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon.
“We’ve been laying plans to get that park, which is enormously popular, back open in a limited control way and that’s the one exception where there’s a couple of days’ warning,” OPRD’s Spokesman Chris Havel said.
Havel said the state has been gradually reopening parks on a day-by-day basis without making big announcements about which are the latest to reopen. Think of it as a soft-relaunch.
The idea is to ease people back in and avoid overcrowding or having people plan long-distance trips to visit these parks. OPRD continues to make sure that communities where they plan to reopen parks are ready for visitors, that there is enough staff at the park, and they are able to manage the park in the best interests of public health for both visitors and staff.
Havel said for the most part, things ran smoothly at reopened state parks over the weekend. People were giving each other space and following social distancing guidelines.