Getty Images

“Guided 2022 First Day Hikes” are set for several state parks on Jan. 1 and the normal $5 day-use parking fee is waived for the 25 parks that normally require a parking permit, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced.

“Whatever your choice — a guided hike, exploring a park trail on your own or enjoying everything a state park offers — starting out the year in the outdoors can begin a new tradition or keep a longstanding family tradition alive,” Lisa Sumption, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department director said through a press release. “January 1 also marks the beginning of the yearlong Oregon State Parks centennial commemoration.”

A list of guided hikes, including times and meeting locations, is online at the Oregon State Parks event calendar. Visitors should check the calendar in the days leading up to Jan. 1 for additional guided hikes. Some parks not hosting guided hikes may display posters that include recommended hikes and ranger favorites. 

Gray whales

Late December is prime time to look for migrating gray whales as they head south to the warm lagoons of Baja Mexico, the department said. Although trained volunteers and staff will not be available this winter at whale watching sites, most viewing sites managed by Oregon State Parks remain open to visitors.

The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay is closed but the viewing deck on the exterior of the building is open. 

“The peak of the winter whale watching season lasts from late December through mid-January, Park Ranger Luke Parsons of Beverly Beach Management Unit said. “Watch the weather forecast for calm weather and clear skies near your favorite coastal destination, then come on over.”

Parsons added that the whales can be several miles from shore during the winter migration so bring binoculars to help scan for whale spouts. Mornings, when the sun is at your back, is also a better time than afternoons to look for whales, he said. has no paywall and to keep it that way, we rely on voluntary memberships. If you’re already a member, thank you for contributing. To join our community as a member or to make a one-time contribution, please CLICK HERE.