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Normal $5 parking fee waived at places like Dabney, Rooster Rock, Milo McIver State Parks

PMG FILE PHOTO - People can park for free at Milo McIver State Park on New Years Day, Jan. 1. Kick off the new year with free access to nature as state parks across Oregon will have their normal $5 parking fee waived.

On Saturday, Jan. 1, visitors can park for free at the 25 parks that normally require a parking permit. That means it's a great time for local residents to enjoy nature at Dabney State Recreation Area, Rooster Rock State Park, and Milo McIver State Park.

"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," said Lisa Sumption, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

A list of guided hikes, including times and meeting locations, can be found online at the Oregon State Parks event calendar, bit.ly/3ISP81C. Parks that don't have guided hikes, like many of the local ones, may display posters include recommended hikes and ranger favorites.

This time of the year is also prime season to look for migrating gray whales as they head south to the warm lagoons of Baja Mexico. Although trained volunteers and staff are not available at whale watching sites along the coast, most remain open to visitors.

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

If looking for whales, bring binoculars to scan for spouts as they often are several miles from shore during the winter migration. Mornings, with the sun to your back, is also a better time than afternoons.

Jan. 1 also marks the beginning of a yearlong Oregon State Parks centennial commemoration. More events will be announced as the year progresses.


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