Deschutes National Forest offers recreation overview for summer 2021

As the public makes plans for spring and summer outdoor recreation, the Deschutes National Forest wants to provide some important information and tips to help everyone be prepared, plan ahead, and have a great experience recreating on the national forest this year.

Campground Information

Due to COVID-19 concerns, all Deschutes National Forest campgrounds are 100% reservable with three exceptions.

Within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument area Cinder Hill, Paulina Lake, and Prairie campgrounds will have limited (25-35%) of camping sites available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Campground sites must be reserved on Recreation.gov. As people make campground reservations, they should note that opening dates of campgrounds are dependent upon weather conditions and snowmelt.

With recreational visitation on the Deschutes National Forest increasing 40% last year and the expectation of continued high use, people are encouraged to make their camping reservations early. Some of the most popular areas on the forest, like the Cascade Lakes, Metolius Basin, and Newberry National Volcanic Monument may have limited availability for campground reservations, particularly on weekends.

Quinn River, Sheep Bridge, and Reservoir campgrounds will be closed for the summer because of significant public safety concerns. Hundreds of hazard trees in these campgrounds need to be felled prior to the campgrounds opening.

Currently, Graham Corral has issues with a loss of water at the site and the public should be aware stock water may not be available. The Forest Service is working on the issue and alternative solutions for delivering water during the 2021 camping season are being developed. Prior to going, people should check the Deschutes National Forest’s website for the most updated conditions.

Group Sites

Group site occupancy limits will be based on current COVID-19 guidance and will be updated if new guidance is provided.

Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is allowed on the Deschutes National Forest for up to 14 days. Dispersed camping is camping outside of designated campgrounds.

Some areas are closed to dispersed camping and all dispersed campers must follow the Deschutes National Forest Camping and Campfire Forest Order , which was signed on April 2, 2021 as well as the Motor Vehicle Use guidelines found here.

The Deschutes National Forest Camping and Campfire Forest Order prohibits dispersed camping and/or campfires in the Bend Municipal Watershed, Cascade Lakes Highway Scenic Views Corridor, Crescent Industrial Camp, Deschutes Wild and Scenic River Corridor, Hosmer Lake and Mallard Marsh, Newberry Caldera, Three Creeks Lake Area, Tumalo Creek Area, Upper Tumalo Creek Area, Whychus Creek Riparian Corridor, and Whychus Creek Wild and Scenic River Portal Area.

Day use sites

Increasing recreational use on the Deschutes National Forest has caused issues with parking and crowding at some day-use sites.

People going to day-use sites may experience substantial problems with parking and are asked to avoid causing safety issues by parking along roadways.

The Forest Service wants to highlight that there are many day-use sites across the forest and people should have multiple locations in mind as they head out to enjoy the forest.

In addition, last year at day-use sites, because of significantly increased visitation Forest Service employees could not keep up with the amount of garbage left at day-use sites.

The Forest Service asks the public to bring a garbage bag along with them to pack out as much of their garbage as much as possible to reduce impacts to wildlife, watersheds, and other visitors.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Lava Lands Visitor Center will offer outdoor services, including retail operations, starting May 20, but indoor operations at the visitor center will not be offered.

The public should look for updates on Lava River Cave on the Deschutes National Forest website.

A decision about opening Lava River Cave given COVID-19 restrictions will be made soon.

Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the Lava Cast Forest and the Newberry Caldera areas of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Wilderness Visitation

As mentioned in previous press releases, the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests will be implementing a new Central Cascades Wilderness Permit System for the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wildernesses. If people plan on visiting these wildernesses, they should do their planning after reviewing this website. All permit reservations need to be made through Recreation.gov.

Permit reservations will open April 6 at 7 a.m. at Recreation.gov.

Road Openings

Opening dates of Cascade Lakes Highway and the Paulina Lake Road will be on Deschutes County’s road website https://www.deschutes.org/road/page/news-and-closures

Those two roads are not under the Forest Service’s jurisdiction.

Campfires and Fires

As always, visitors need to be aware that campfires may not always be allowed on the Deschutes National Forest depending on fuel and weather conditions.

Visitors should always check the Deschutes National Forest website to know the most current fire restrictions in the summer.

In addition, visitors should be aware that wildfires in Central Oregon are not uncommon.

The Deschutes National Forest is a fire-adapted ecosystem and wildfires should be expected in August and September, which may impact recreation opportunities and experiences.

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