It’s always a beautiful day to go hiking or camping in our state… especially when Oregon is celebrating 100 years of state parks this year!
Being an Oregonian and enjoying the outdoors go hand-in-hand. It’s in our DNA. In fact, over 80% of us residents take out our tents to the Pacific Northwest wilderness at least once a year. With a wide varied landscape consisting of beaches, mountains, forests, farmland, and desert, there is no shortage of places to traverse. The landscape has been the inspiration and backdrop for many great local authors.
It’s truly the best of all worlds! And with a beautiful weekend on the horizon, it’s time to get out of the house.
Oregonians And Camping
The state has a large percentage of folks who go camping every year. There’s a reason people live in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s not just to be a hipster in Portland. Oregon state parks were packed this year, with several locals seeking comfort under the stars. According to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, 3,026,756 people headed outdoors; it was the first time the three million markers was eclipsed in the state.
In regards to state parks, Oregon averages 2.5 million guests a year — the eighth highest in the nation. According to the camping website and app The Dyrt, there are over 1,200 campgrounds spread throughout the state, giving residents numerous options to explore.
Best Camping Spots In Oregon
The Beaver State is home to 11 national forests and 361 state parks. The 33rd state is lined with famed Douglas fir trees, sheltering countless natural finds. With 363 miles of free and running along the coastline, camping on the shore is an obvious favorite for Oregonians. If waterside views aren’t right for you, the “Mountain Region” boasts a completely different geography. No matter what your aesthetic preference, more likely than not, our state has it. Here are our Seven Best Places To Camp In Oregon:
A very popular hashtag… and for good reason. Smith Rock is a gorgeous backdrop to showcase Oregon’s great outdoors. Located near Bend, the park has 650 acres for hiking, biking, and running. Specifically, there are several thousand climbs located throughout the park, complete with countless bolted routes. Elevation rises to around 3000 feet in elevation, welded by tuff or compressed volcanic ash formed 30 million years ago.
Note: The Bivy Campground is first-come, first-serve.
Wallowa Lake State Park
The locals call it “Little Switzerland”. Similar to the country, it looks like an alpine village — a peaceful retreat that makes the perfect base camp. Set in Eastern Oregon, the park is set between a glacial lake and the famed peaks of the Wallowa Mountains. The unspoiled wilderness has sparkling lakes beneath 10,000-foot peaks. The Wallowa Lake Trailhead provides access to The Eagle Cap, which serves as the state’s largest wilderness.
Note: Reservation must be made six months in advance for year-round camping.
The newest park on the list, Cottonwood Canyon was established in 2013 and boasts over 8,000 acres available to visitors. With wildlife everywhere, multi-season camping and backcountry camping has made the area skyrocket in popularity. Vertical cliffs were carved by the John Day River deep into the side of canyons, overlooking waters that move over 252 free-flowing miles. More impressive is the wildlife; species include antelope, elk, mule deer, jackrabbits, and sheep.
Note: April and May blooms countless wildflower species.
Located a few steps from the ocean, this forest-sheltered campground is covered in wind-sculpted trees. Situated along the pebbly Spencer Creek, the park is central to whale watching and fishing. For a brisk return to society, Newport and the Oregon Coast Aquarium are in close proximity to the beach.
Note: The sandy beach stretches across Yaquina head, a popular spot to see a historic lighthouse.
Crater Lake National Park
The origins are in the name.
Almost 8,000 years ago, the Indigenous witnessed a violent eruption that triggered the collapse of a tall peak, creating the deepest lake in the country.
Located in the Cascade Mountain Range, the park was established in 1902, making it the fifth-oldest national park in the United States. The lake measures nearly 2,000 feet at its deepest point — the second deepest across the continent.
Note: Mazama Campground has 214 sites. However, it is only open at summer by a first-come-first-served basis.
Cold Water Cove
This looks like something out of The Lord Of The Rings. This popular Oregon campground is located in the Willamette National Forest, giving campers views of the beautiful turquoise-colored Clear Lake. Hikers have access to the Three Sisters Mountain and Mt. Washington nearby.
There are 34 campsites with nearby boating amenities.
Note: In the evenings, campers can attend nature talks at the amphitheater in the nearby Clear Lake Day Use Area.
Established alongside the North Umqua River, Toketee is an angler’s paradise; the waters are home to the best (and largest) selection of German brown trout fishing. Nature lovers can visit Toketee Lake, Toketee Falls, and North Umpqua Trail — a favorite amongst hikers and bikers.
The Umpqua Hot Springs has the perfect waters to lounge and take in the views.
Note: There are 33 campsites for RVs, trailers, and tents open year-round. A group campsite is located adjacent to the campground.