Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates and Information
The health and safety of visitors as well as Forest Service employees and volunteers is paramount during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working across the Pacific Northwest Region to align with the Governors' orders in Oregon and Washington state as well as the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Check these tips: Visiting Your National Forests during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Recreation Information & Possible Closures
Recreational sites are taking a phased approach to transition to access based on the ability to provide services in a manner safe to the public and our employees, and in alignment with states and local guidance. We’re asking our visitors to respect all closures and follow social distancing guidelines when recreating.
Please follow these guidelines:
- Check ahead of time to find out what local conditions exist and which areas are open by visiting your regional national forest’s recreation page,
- Many Ranger Stations and Visitor Centers are offering virtual services to members of the public. Visitors and customers are encouraged to contact their local ranger station via phone or email during regular business hours for information.
- Be prepared to be self-reliant during limited access. Access to amenities like restroom, garbage, and water facilities may be limited. We strongly encourage the public to plan for not having access to these things, which means you will need to carry extra water and know how to properly dispose of waste, including human and dog waste.
- Some temporary local closures may continue, we are making every effort to provide access to these lands. We too look forward to when communities we serve can once again fully enjoy all the recreation opportunities.
- Be extra cautious! Take supplies for any emergency.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to know before I visit?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published its “Visiting Parks and Recreational Faculties: Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19.” The key is to know before you go and to follow safety and health guidelines from reputable sources. Check ahead of time to find out what local conditions exist and which areas are open by contacting the national forest you are planning to visit..
What is a safe and socially distant way to visit a National Forest or walk on a crowded trail?
Follow the same CDC and other local and stateguidelines for social distancing and personal hygiene while recreating as you do at home and in your communities. Adhere to group size restrictions for the local area and continue frequent hand washing and other sanitary measures.If you notice the parking area is full, try another open location but stay on legally designated trails. If you encounter people on your hike, temporarily step off the trail to allow them to pass, then step back on and continue walking.
If you head out, please take some time to consider:
- What risks are associated with the activity you have chosen to do? Law enforcement, search and rescue, and hospitals have limited capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- If the site you have chosen is full, have some backup options in mind that will allow you to maintain @CDC social distancing guidelines.
- How will you help minimize pressure on smaller communities adjacent to the forest that have limited resources? Restaurants, rest stops, and trailhead bathrooms are likely to be closed. Do you have the food, water, and fuel you need for the day? Do you have the supplies you need to hygienically pack out your waste?
- We know the outdoors are calling, but the decisions you make can affect everyone. If there was ever a time to recognize our #interdependence, this is it.
While we encourage you to go outside and enjoy the fresh air and nice weather, we ask that you please take extra steps to do so safely.
- Ensure that you are following social distancing guidelines when you are in parking areas and on the trail.
- We still have wet, muddy, and snowy conditions on trails and roads—these should be considered closed until conditions improve. Waiting for these trail and road systems to dry out and open up will mean that our road crews, trail crews, and partner organizations don’t have to spend additional time on reparative maintenance.
- Let’s all protect and respect these public lands we love.
While you are enjoying your public lands, take care to stay within your limits.
Be mindful of the route you take, stay on well-established trails, tell someone your plan for the day and stick to it--and don’t go out alone. Be extra cautious, as emergency responders are very busy, Resources that typically support Search and Rescue are now used to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. Please don't take any risks that might mean you need rescue or health care. If you get lost, it may take dozens or hundreds of searchers to find you, particularly if you venture off-trail. Most of these searchers are volunteers who will be leaving behind their families during this emergency to help you. They may need to prioritize their health and that of their families. If you get injured, you will be relying on an already stressed health care system, diverting hospital resources from the pandemic response.
- Take extra supplies for any emergency. We’ve been hearing from our county partners that they are seeing an increase in Search and Rescue operations, which puts stress on county resources, volunteers, and their families, and if you get injured, an already strained health care system.
- Let’s all do our part to ensure we are keeping ourselves, our families, and our communities safe by being prepared and recreating responsibly.
Tread Lightly! has adapted the T.R.E.A.D. Principles for social distancing outdoors to align with the recommendations from the CDC to help slow the spread of the disease and maintain physical and emotional health. Please help us keep the outdoors and enthusiasts healthy by following these easy guidelines.
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
- Colville National Forest
- Deschutes National Forest
- Fremont-Winema National Forest
- Gifford Pinchot National Forest
- Malheur National Forest
- Mt. Hood National Forest
- Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
- Ochoco National Forest
- Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
- Olympic National Forest
- Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
- Siuslaw National Forest
- Umatilla National Forest
- Umpqua National Forest
- Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
- Willamette National Forest
Fewer human-caused fires will not only help protect communities from wildfire but will also preserve firefighting resources and help slow the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the need to move firefighters throughout the nation. Consider taking advantage of additional time at home during stay-at-home orders to tackle that defensible space project on your property. Get your kids outside and active in safely clearing brush or raking pine needles. Make a ‘ready, set, go’ evacuation plan with your family. Become ‘smoke ready’ with simple, low cost DIY filters. And please be extra vigilant with any ignition source from a dragging chain to lawnmowers.
As we navigate these uncertain times together we are grateful for our valued partners across the Pacific Northwest Region and beyond. Read the Regional Forester's letter of support to our partners here.
National & Federal Resources
- Forest Service Resilience and Personal Effectiveness Resources
- CDC - Coronavirus.gov Portal
- CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- GSA - USA.gov Coronavirus Portal
- OPM - Office of Personnel Management Coronavirus Oversight
- USDA - Department of Agriculture Coronavirus Portal
- USFS - Forest Service Coronavirus (FSWeb)