Lake frolickers

From left, Ruby Ritzer and sister Rose Ritzer, both of Boise, Idaho, and Greta Morgan, of Bend, enjoy playing in the shallows at the south end of Wallowa Lake on Friday, May 29. They were a few of the many who took advantage of the weekend’s sunny weather as Wallowa Lake partially reopened after COVID-19 shutdowns.

WALLOWA LAKE — Out-of-towners from Idaho, Montana, Washington, Arizona, Nevada and California, as well as many places in Oregon, were evident last weekend at Wallowa Lake State Park. Day-use areas and the marina in the park are open, although only a single restroom is available at this time.

The trails at Iwetemlaykin are open, as is the corridor road and parking at Minam State Park.

For now, camping at both Minam and Wallowa Lake state parks remains closed because of COVID-19 shutdowns. Park Administrative Assistant Shawn Dutcher said that the Wallowa Lake Campground is expected to open Tuesday, June 9, and Minam is also on the slate for opening in the near future. Oregon state parks administrators in Salem were not able to confirm these dates by press time, however.

“We see a lot of RVs drive down the road to the campground and turn around,” Dutcher said.

Some who were visiting the park’s day-use area during the sunny weather in the last weekend in May used the opportunity to get together with friends and family while maintaining social distancing. Some were staying in their RVs in the two parks that are now open at Wallowa Lake Village.

“It’s a way to meet with family from Washington and do our social distancing across a picnic table,” said Holly Elliott, who was here over the weekend with her husband, Mark, from Bend. “It’s a beautiful lake; it’s our first time here.”

For others, a return to the lake is family tradition.

“Coming here has been our family tradition vacation spot,” said Yvonne Van Ausvle of Boise, Idaho.

She was here all last week with daughter, Renee, 19, and son, Zach, 11. Her husband, Brian, was to join them May 29. Yvonne Van Ausvle said she’s been coming to the lake for 25 years, and her husband for 50.

Roger Morgan, of Bend, said his family is making use of down time forced because of the COVID-19 shutdowns.

“We’re using the down time to drive around Oregon a little more,” he said.

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