PORTLAND, Ore.-- You can enjoy Oregon and Washington's forested areas without paying most day use fees on President's Day, Monday, Feb. 15.

With many recreation opportunities unavailable to the public during the global COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor recreation has become especially important to individuals and families in the northwest this past year.

The Forest Service offers several fee-free days annually to encourage Americans to explore the outdoors and visit their public lands.

Visitors should keep the following in mind when planning their trip:

Know before you go. Weather conditions can change quickly, especially at higher elevations. Research your route. Understand that cell phone service may not be available in some forest areas, and many Forest Service roads are not maintained for winter travel – drivers routed onto unmaintained roads by GPS maps have been stranded, sometimes with devastating results.

Be ‘Snow Safe.’ Make sure your vehicle is equipped for winter travel. Carry traction devices at all times, where required. Pack warm clothes, water, food, hazard flares, a spare cell phone battery or charger, and anything else you’ll need to shelter safely and signal for help if you get stuck. Allow extra travel time for your trip. Do not park illegally in parking areas or on highways – this puts pedestrians at risk. In an emergency, crowded conditions will prevent others from clearing the way and slow the arrival of medical aid and other first responders

Sno-Park or No Parking? It’s been a relatively mild winter season in the Pacific Northwest; not all Sno-Parks have snow and those that do are in high demand. Most Sno-Park parking fills early, especially on weekends. If your preferred site is full, do not park illegally on the highway! Have a non-snow activity planned as a back-up.

When traveling to a Sno-Park, have your permit ready. Washington Sno-Park permits are issued by Washington State Parks. Oregon Sno-Park permits are issued by the Oregon Department of Transportation. These state-issued permits raise money for snow removal at winter recreation sites; the state’s permit requirement is not waived on Forest Service fee-free days.

The Forest Service fee waiver includes many picnic areas, boat launches, trailheads, and visitor centers. Fees for camping, cabin rentals, or other permits still apply. Fees will continue to be charged at recreation sites operated by concessionaires unless the individual manager chooses to participate. To find a recreation site near you, visit the agency's interactive recreation map

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