Marion County announces the opening of its seasonal parks for the 2017 summer recreational season. Most parks, including Bear Creek Park and Campground, will open May 1 and remain open through October 30, 2017. North Fork and Salmon Falls parks will open June 1. Parks and Public Works staff have been working through the off-season to prepare parks for the summer opening, with special attention along the North Fork corridor.
Parks Coordinator Russ Dilley said, "We're looking forward to a busy summer at Marion County's parks, especially the days leading up to and around the Great American Eclipse in August. To keep parks ready for visitors, we've added additional seasonal staff and made improvements in several areas including parking in the North Fork corridor and a new play structure at Labish Village Park. For everyone's safety, we're reminding visitors to be mindful of county park rules including bans on alcohol, smoking and glass containers."
North Fork Road parking fee and corridor improvements
The Little North Fork Santiam River and North Fork Road corridor have grown in popularity in recent years, resulting in overcrowding on most warm, sunny days. With the additional river users come increased motor vehicle accidents, river safety concerns, litter, habitat degradation and trespassing onto private property. Marion County has responded with several changes and added amenities along North Fork Road designed to improve public safety, increase capacity, and enhance the public's recreational experience.
New signs are being installed along Highway 22, North Fork Road and at park entrances to help travelers find their destinations and provide corridor-wide information. Marion County Public Works has also widened and improved roadside gravel turnouts in several popular locations to make it easier and safer for cars to park off the roadway. Visitors will also see new and expanded parking at North Fork Park and Salmon Falls Park.
Two emergency phones are now operational in areas where cell phone coverage is either unavailable or unreliable. One phone is located at the entrance to Salmon Falls Park and one phone is located at the Elkhorn Valley Fire Station. Both phones connect directly to 9-1-1.
Marion County has instituted a $5 daily parking fee for all vehicles that park on the side of North Fork Road and in county parks accessed from North Fork Road, including North Fork Park, Salmon Falls Park, Bear Creek Park day use parking and Lomker's Bridge day use area. Parking fee stations along North Fork Road and in each park will be available for use on May 1. Fees can be paid using cash or check. A $30 annual parking pass is also available, which will allow unlimited daily parking for one vehicle along North Fork Road and in Marion County North Fork corridor parks. Annual passes can be purchased at any of the parking fee stations or at Marion County Public Works, Building 1, 5155 Silverton Road NE in Salem.
Bear Creek Park
Bear Creek Park will open on May 1. The park is a 15-acre campground located between the Bureau of Land Management's Canyon Creek and Elkhorn Valley parks on North Fork Road. Bear Creek Park also provides day use access to the Little North Fork Santiam River. The park has 15 first-come, first-served camp sites and costs $14 per night with a 14-night maximum stay. Each of the camping sites has picnic tables and fire pits and accommodates one vehicle. A $5 fee applies to each additional vehicle. Campsite check-in is 4 p.m. and check out is 1 p.m. on the day of departure. The day use portion of the park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
North Fork and Salmon Falls parks
North Fork and Salmon Falls Parks will open on June 1. Work is underway at Salmon Falls Park to remove downed trees and repair other damage from winter snow storms. The parking lot at North Fork Park will be expanded to accommodate additional vehicles and maintain emergency access on crowded days. Both parks provide access to the Little North Fork Santiam River, include restrooms and picnic facilities, and are open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Other seasonal parks
Other seasonal Marion County parks that open to the public on May 1 include:
- Aumsville Ponds on Bates Road SE near Aumsville;
- Bonesteele Park on Aumsville Hwy SE;
- Spong's Landing on the Willamette River north of Keizer;
- Scotts Mills Park; and,
- Minto and Niagara parks along the Santiam River.
These parks are open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset.
The following Marion County parks are open and available for public use year-round:
- Salem area - Auburn, Denny, Eola Bend, Joryville, Labish Village, and Parkdale;
- Near Silverton - Rogers Wayside; and
- Along the North Santiam River – Packsaddle
St. Louis Fish Ponds, west of Gervais, opened for the season on March 1.
Marion County has a first-come, first-served policy for all county parks and park amenities. Reservations are not accepted. Parking permits are only required at the county's North Fork corridor parks and for parking along North Fork Road. Parking at all other county parks is free.
Marion County reminds park visitors that the following safety rules apply:
- Alcohol, glass containers and smoking are prohibited in all county parks.
- Outdoor cooking fires must be in a fireplace, barbecue pit or camp stove, and used safely in designated picnic or cooking areas. During fire season, only portable gas barbecues and camp stoves may be used.
- Fires must be attended at all times in county parks. Completely extinguish all fires until cold to the touch and comply with all seasonal fire restrictions.
- Discharge of firearms, ammunition, fireworks and other types of explosives are also prohibited in county parks.
For more information about county parks, including descriptions, locations and available amenities, visit the Marion County Parks website at www.co.marion.or.us/PW/Parks or call (503) 588-5036.