Why is there a 14-day stay limit?

Release Date: Apr 8, 2021

Contact(s): Peter Fargo, 541-523-1231

BAKER CITY, Ore. (April 8, 2021) – Living the good life in Eastern Oregon, for many, involves plenty of quality time in the great outdoors.  Some people even have a favorite spot they like to visit every year, if not every weekend.  But what if somebody monopolizes that spot as if it’s their own private land?

That is why the Wallowa-Whitman, and most National Forests, have had a 14-day stay limit in effect for decades.  “Camping longer than 14 days at popular recreation sites, such as streamside meadows or lakeshores, tends to interfere or prevent others from enjoying these highly sought-after areas,” said Kendall Cikanek, Whitman District Ranger.  “The 14-day stay limit promotes a more equitable distribution of camping, recreation, and other opportunities for everyone, especially in popular areas.” 

A Forest Order allows camping in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest for up to 14 consecutive days within any 30-day period.  Camping is any overnight use and includes people or their equipment.  A common misconception is that campers need only move to the next campsite after 14 days, but this is not accurate – the camping limit applies across the National Forest.  (Some exceptions are authorized in Forest Service permits, such as for commercial grazing.)

In addition to providing more equal opportunities for camping, the 14-day stay limit aims to mitigate the impacts of increased forest use.  A recent rise in forest visitation has, in some areas, resulted in unsafe conditions and natural resource damage.  When people don’t follow “pack it in, pack it out” practices, trash and food can attract wildlife to campsites and put others at risk.  When human waste and toilet paper are not properly disposed of, or left in the open, they become unsightly health hazards that contaminate water sources.  Extended stays beyond 14 days can increase camping competition, leading some visitors to clear away vegetation to create new campsites.  Natural resource damage can also occur through soil compaction and erosion.

“The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is an increasingly popular destination,” said Forest Supervisor, Tom Montoya.  “To ensure all visitors have a more equitable opportunity to go camping in their favorite location, and have an enjoyable experience, I’d like to thank everyone for honoring the 14-day stay limit.”