Free day at state parks


   State Parks Day, an annual event highlighted by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's offer of free camping, will occur statewide Saturday, June 4.
   Visitors to state park campgrounds will pay nothing to rent full hookup (sewer, electricity and water), electrical hookup (electricity and water) and tent sites on the evening of June 4. Full rates, however, will be charged for yurts, cabins, horse camps and group areas.
   Campsite reservations may be made online or by calling Reservations Northwest (1-800-452-5687) before 5 p.m. June 2. The usual $8 reservation fee will be charged.
   Parking will be free during the day in the 26 state park day-use parking fee areas.
   The theme of the 14th annual event focuses on Outdoor Seekers, a new program aimed at encouraging increased outdoor recreation among children ages 6-12.
   "This is a great chance to expose kids to a variety of outdoor recreation possibilities," said OPRD recreation program manager Richard Walkoski. "If nothing else, families can let kids satisfy one the requirements to earn Outdoor Seeker status --`camp out under the stars'-- while camping for free."
   Junior Ranger activities supporting the Outdoor Seekers movement will occur at several parks. Special activities will include an annual 5K footrace and youth development run at Silver Falls State Park, an in-camp parade featuring decorated bicycles at Wallowa Lake, a fish and wildlife exhibition at Valley of the Rogue and razor clamming at Fort Stevens. State Parks Day tours will include a tour of Champoeg State Heritage Area's 1860s kitchen garden and old townsite.
   National Trails Day also will be observed at Stub Stewart State Park. North Face, REI, the American Hiking Society and Leave No Trace organization will join park staff to observe both events with guided hikes, demonstrations, a trail service project and other activities based at the park's Hilltop Day-use Area and amphitheater.
   Times and other details of all park observances are posted on the Oregon state parks website (
   The Oregon State Legislature established Oregon State Parks Day to focus public attention on the heritage, use, development and funding of Oregon's state park system. The event has been held on the first Saturday in June since 1998.