Monday, November 26, 2012

Oregon offers special discounts on Parks Passes, Coast Passports and more

For RVers and weekend wanderers, an Oregon State Parks Parking Pass is already great deal at $30—considering it has limitless use for an entire year. But for the month of December, the pass will cost only $25, making it a perfect stocking stuffer for the park explorer in your life. You can also double your value by purchasing a two-year pass for just $50 (regularly $60).

In addition, the Oregon Coast Passport will cost only $30 in December; it’s $35 otherwise. The multi-agency pass is valid at Oregon State Parks, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service sites along the Oregon Coast. Gift certificates in any amount are also available, making it a fun gift for kids of all ages.

Discounted passes and passports are available December 1–31, 2012 by calling the Oregon State Parks Information Center at 1-800-551-6949, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Callers may use debit or credit cards that have VISA or MasterCard logos to purchase permits, passports and gift certificates. You can also purchase any of the above at vendors throughout the state of Oregon. Click here for a complete list.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Idaho Power Discounts Camping Fees for Seniors & Disabled Military

Starting January 1 campers over the age of 60 and service-disabled military veterans will enjoy discounts at parks run by Idaho Power. Seniors will receive $2 off regular overnight camping fees; disabled military, 50 percent off the nightly rate.

The three-year pilot program was instituted when Idaho Power announced it would have to start charging for overnight camping, about a year ago. When the Disabled American Veterans organization of Payette, Idaho heard about the fees for their parks, they approached the company to see if they could at least qualify for a discount. 

Six months later, Idaho Power came back to the group with a new fee-discount pilot program. They also added the senior price reduction to encourage family camping. While day-use of the parks has always been free, overnight camping at the Hells Canyon parks costs RVers $16 a night (April through October); $8 (November through March)—before the applicable discount. The four campgrounds along the Snake River at the C.J. Strikes Reservoir cost $10/night in high season, and $5 in low, also before any discounts.

Campers 60-plus will need an ID (driver’s license or other official identification) to qualify for the discount; disabled veterans will need either an Idaho or Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation document, or a copy of their V.A. disability document. When using a fee envelope at the park campground, check the appropriate box or simply write in the reason for the discount. All of the park campgrounds will maintain their first-come, first-served basis and there is a 14-day stay limit for everyone. 

For more information on camping and recreation areas managed by Idaho Power, click here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Volunteer for a free Discover Pass

Put in 24 hours of pleasant enough work in good company—planting trees, cleaning beaches, repairing trails—on Washington’s beautiful recreation lands and you’ll earn a free Discover Pass for a year’s worth of entrance to your favorite forest, lakeside, or coastal park. 

The parks post the available work projects on their website, or you can check with your local ranger for upcoming needs. He/she will also be the one you “report to,” and the official who signs off on your hours voucher. Once you’ve fulfilled your 24 hours you mail it in to redeem your Discover Pass. Over the past 13 months more than 500 free passes were sent out to volunteers, the equivalent of one million paid-for passes. The revenue is split in percentages: 84 percent for the state parks, 8 percent for the Department of Natural Resources, and 8 percent for Fish and Wildlife. For those who love these special places in the Northwest, think of the work as the grown-up version of a Scout patch, proudly earned.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Digging for dinner: Keep clam and carry on!

For hardy RVers, November can be a real “bonus” camping month. Case in point: if you’re anywhere near the Oregon coast in the next few days, head over to Garibaldi Bay and reap the tasty rewards of the extreme low tides coming up on Wednesday and Thursday, November 14 and 15. We’re talking five varieties of clams beneath the surface of the miles of exposed sands: razor, butter, gaper, bay, and cockles—the chowder kings. If it’s delicious Dungeness crabs you’re into, walk a few steps over to the Garibaldi Pier and make a haul—there’s an abundance of them right now, too.

You can park your RV right on the Bay and just a few steps from the popular Garibaldi Pier at The Harborview Inn and RV Park, a friendly, family-run establishment open year round. There are 30 RV spaces (and pull-throughs for any size) with 20-30-50 amp electrical, water and sewer, and cable TV and Wi-Fi included in the $30 per night cost. Pets are always welcome. Harborview also has all the trappings and equipment you need for the Northwest clamming experience: licenses (which cost $7 for Oregon residents and good for the rest of 2012, and $11.50 for non-residents, good for three days.), crabbing and clamming gear, and there’s even a crab cooker available. 

So embrace your inner November RVer! Throw those old rubber boots in your storage bin, grab an extra fleece and all-weather gear, and enjoy the timeless pleasure of “catching” your dinner on the most beautiful seacoast in America. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Washington State Parks Department Seeks Federal Funding to Keep Parks Open

According to an article on November 4th in The Columbian, Washington’s beloved state parks are in a financial bind. Revenue projections are falling short and the new Discover Pass user fee program isn’t proving to be a dependable source of income. As a result, the Washington State Parks Department is seeking federal funding in the amount of $27 million for the next two years, a figure that Parks officials say would keep the agency up and running.

Legislators have previously said state parks may get no general fund money in 2013-15. But, according to a department report released earlier this year, that can’t even be an option if state parks are to remain a viable program. Washington’s State Parks Department has had to deal with huge cutbacks—from $98 million in 2007-09 down to $21 million at present. And, since 2008, one third of the Parks’ permanent full- time jobs have been cut. Other employees have been downsized to seasonal positions, reshuffled to other places, or let go.

One thing the agency hasn't done is close any of Washington's 116 state parks. Keeping them open remains a top priority, particularly now that people are being asked to pay more to directly support them. As of right now, though, there is no crystal ball that shows what, if any, help state parks will get form Washington’s general fund, once lawmakers come back to Olympia. State revenue projections aren’t looking rosy, and there are many other state agencies petitioning for help before the 2013 legislative session reconvenes. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tour Washington's Olympic Peninsula in this video

If you haven't visited Washington's Olympic Peninsula, then watch this short video to see what you were missing. And what were you missing? A lot! What a gorgeous place, and plenty of campgrounds, many year round!