We all have our New Year’s Day traditions—our polar plunges, our winter walks. Some of us choose to do nothing but water our flowers in Animal Crossing, and that’s perfectly OK too. But if starting the new year with a hike is your thing, you’re in luck: not only are guided First Day Hikes back at several Oregon State Parks, parking is free at the 25 parks that normally require a permit.
Currently Oregon State Parks lists 18 First Day Hikes on its events calendar, including guided ranger-led trips to Silver Falls, the Cove Palisades, Fort Stevens, Wallowa Lake, Champoeg State Heritage Area, and more.
Late December into mid-January is also peak whale-watching season, when migrating gray whales head south for warmer waters. Though staff and volunteers will not be available at whale-watching sites this winter due to COVID safety protocols, you can gaze to your heart's content at favorite spots including Depoe Bay, south of Lincoln City, Yaquina Head near Newport, or Cape Meares, north of Oceanside. Winter storm-watching is also great this time of year. (Be sure to check out our list of favorite places to watch the waves.)