With Oregon State Parks Busier Than Ever These 5 Overlooked Parks Are Worth A Visit
The Pinnacles Trail leads along the John Day River through Cottonwood Canyon State Park in north-central Oregon.
Oregons state parks were busier than ever in 2021, but not all park sites were overcrowded.
Among the roughly 250 Oregon state park sites, there are dozens that remain stubbornly under the radar, owing to their remote location or lack of natural attractions. For every Smith Rock or Silver Falls, for example, there are half a dozen obscure waysides in eastern Oregon.
For many, those obscure waysides might not be worth a long road trip, but there are some overlooked state parks that really do deserve a visit, places where stunning natural beauty might just come at the end of a long, winding road or where a fascinating history cant be explained on a nondescript highway sign.
Jason Resch, communications division manager for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, said he has a special place in his heart for these overlooked parks. One of his personal favorites is Darlingtonia State Natural Site, where visitors can find a small boardwalk around a stand of carnivorous cobra lily plants, and where he drags his family every time they visit the central Oregon coast.
We have something to offer everybody and that might be super interesting to one person and not at all interesting to the next person, Resch said, noting how his kids especially dislike his beloved Darlingtonia. We would encourage folks to explore them.
State Park Camping Near Mount Hood
Oregons best state parks near Mount Hood live on the Columbia River. Ainsworth State Park is nestled between Mount Hood and Portland, significantly closer to everything the city has to offer but not quite as in the thick of Hood itself as Viento State Park. Both parks are more or less immediately on the highway and suffer from an abundance of train noise. Viento can be thought of as the best little natural place to explore the area, though dont expect seclusionthe camping area of this state park is in the forest, but the trees dont block the views of your neighbors.
While its technically in Washington, and therefore on the other side of the Columbia River, Beacon Rock actually offers the best views of all three parks, thanks to being set back from the mountain itself, and the large rock for which it gets its name.
Mount Hoods Best Rv Camping
A towering volcano above Oregon, visible from Portland and snow-capped much of the year, Mount Hood is the highest peak in a state riddled with jagged mountains, many of which have a great deal of prominencethat is, seemingly rising solo out of the earth without a mountain range around them.
The warmer months bring wildflower-painted meadows, occasionally breaking up the moss-covered trees and massive ferns that form the Mount Hood National Forest, as the volcano reflects in alpine lakes, birds of all sizes compete with the sky for most vivid color and the Columbia River rushes its endless journey to the Pacific Ocean. While it is hardly the only forested mountain you can explore, this combination of river, height and sheer vastness makes it one of the most popular. Playing home in the cool town of Hood River doesnt hurt either.
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Mt Hood Village Rv Resort
Rates : $72
- Alpine Slide
- Salmon River
The premier RV park in the Northwest is Mt. Hood Village RV Resort. It first opened its doors in 1984 and is still a fantastic destination to visit. Youll be surrounded by trees when youre there.
A large open space with a spectacular view of Mt. Hood may be found. This is an ideal location for a family retreat or perhaps a romantic trip.
This location is open all year, and there are lots to do in both the winter and summer. Since summer is approaching, I thought Id give some ideas for activities to do here in the summer.
There are lots to do if you enjoy golfing. You will not run out of golf while you are here, as there is a 27-hole golf course. You can play mini-golf there if you want to play something a little more information or with someone who isnt as into golf as you are.
There is enough rock climbing, hiking, biking, fishing, and bird watching to do if you want to get out and enjoy the beauty that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. You can also enjoy a few lakes and the Salmon River while youre there.
The Alpine Slide is one of the summers most popular attractions. The Alpine Slope is a 1/2-mile two-lane slide. You descend on a set of modified sleds. Those that participate must be at least 3 years old. Its a lot of fun, and I recommend it to everybody that visits.
Secret Campgrounds In Eastern Oregon
Autumn in Oregon is ideal for camping delightfully free from crowds, mosquitos and mid-summer heat. And, if you head out to the wide-open spaces of Eastern Oregon, its easy to find a true camping sanctuary the only sound being the songbirds and raptors around you and crunch of gravel under your feet.
If you dont mind a bit of a trek and a completely off-grid experience, you can find blissful solitude and lots of starry nights in the remote corners of these wilderness areas. Here are six hidden campgrounds for you to enjoy in Eastern Oregon.
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Free Camping In The Deschutes National Forest
While the Deschutes National Forest comprises nearly 2 million acres across four counties in Oregon, much of the best camping can be found west of the Sisters-Bend-LaPine corridor. Camping in the Deschutes ranges from official campgrounds with basic amenities like vault toilets, picnic tables and water spigotssuch as Cold Springs Campground near Sisters and Lava Lake Campground west of Bendto pure boondocking at dispersed sites such as that found along Forest Road 260.
For those with larger RVs who are still looking for that in-the-woods feeling, the popular Harrington Loop Road south of Sisters doesnt disappoint. While a plethora of camping is available in the Deschutes, certain places tend to fill up more quickly than others, and camping south of town, such as that found along Forest Road 9710, is often a better bet than trying to get something more mountainous.
How Far Out Should You Make Oregon Camping Reservations
During the summer of 2020, Oregon State Parks experienced enormous growth in camping. Unfortunately, this growth made reserving campsites wildly unpredictable and inconsistent.
We suggest that you make your reservations as quickly as possible if you want to camp in Oregon anytime soon. You can delay if you have flexible dates, but you wont want to wait if you plan to camp on a holiday weekend.
Because the camping season is so short in Oregon, youll find that many campgrounds fill up fast, especially on the weekends. However, if you want a specific campground or campsite, dont wait any longer! The less flexibility you have, the earlier youll want to book.
Camping in Oregons incredible landscapes allows you to experience all the beauty this state offers. If youve never visited or made an Oregon camping reservation, whats left to consider? Whats your favorite place to camp in Oregon?
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Paradise Campground Willamette National Forest
Tamolitch Blue Pool near Paradise Campground
Waterfalls, hot springs, and stunning blue pools of water stem from the banks of the McKenzie River within the Willamette Valley. One of the best ways to experience everything this scenic water corridor affords is to hike the 26.4-mile McKenzie River National Recreation Trailâ one of the best hiking trails in Oregon.
Paradise Campground is the closest place to pitch a tent near all the excitement surrounding the McKenzie River. The campground is near the southern terminus of the National Recreation Trail, near the community of McKenzie Bridge. And its apt name reflects the campground’s immediate surroundings.
Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, nearly all 64 sites at Paradise have views of the water, while the rest are nestled comfortably into the encompassing old-growth forest. The campground caters to tent camping and RVs less than 40 feet long . Flushing toilets and potable water can be found in both campground loops.
The Vintages Trailer Resort
Best for its quirky and comfortable accommodation options that will give you a camping experience to remember.
This awesome trailer park is located in the Willamette Valley, offering a unique lodging experience. The site provides everything you need and more, with added perks such as terrycloth robes and stunning views over the neighboring vineyards. Each trailer is different, plus there are lawn games and a pool to enjoy.
Price: Each trailer varies in price.
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Where Is The Best Camping In Oregon
The vast difference in terrains makes camping in Oregon incredibly special. This unique state offers multiple camping settings to accommodate an array of campers. Youll find campsites in forests, national parks, state parks, and even oceanside.
If you prefer camping in the forest, youre in luck! Oregon has 11 different national forests that allow camping. Some of these national forests even have cabins for rent.
Oregon is also home to Crater Lake National Park. This national park has two established campgrounds with a combined 230 sites. You can camp at many of the sites with a tent or an RV. However, due to the weather conditions, the campgrounds only open during the summer months.
With such an incredible national park, you may forget that Oregon has 256 state parks, 53 of which offer camping. Whether you want to rent a cabin or yurt or use a tent or RV, you can find an Oregon State Park to meet your needs.
Camping along the Oregon coast provides some incredible views. If you find a spot to camp along the 362-mile coastline, youll fall asleep to the sounds of crashing waves. We cant think of a better way to drift to sleep after a day of hiking and adventuring.
Joseph H Stewart State Recreation Area Campground
Lost Creek Reservoir
This campground and recreation area was created on the banks of the Lost Creek Reservoir, a massive impoundment of the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. The campground is 30 miles from the many attractions of Medford.
Joseph H. Stewart has over 200 campsites with hot showers, potable water, and flushing toilets nearby. The campground caters to RV drivers and tent campers, and most sites have electric and water hookups. Other amenities like a boat ramp, playground areas, and summer programs on the weekends cater to a complete camping experience.
Lake activities like boating, fishing, and swimming in the shallows are popular at Joseph H. Stewart. And 12 miles of hiking and cycling trails are also accessible from the campground. Joseph H. Stewart is a popular playground throughout the year, especially in summer, when reservations are recommended.
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Cape Blanco State Park
On the Southern Coast, Cape Blanco State Park marks the westernmost point of Oregon. The park has campsites with water/electric hookups, and miles of hiking trails, many with ocean views.
The parks also home to a historic lighthouse that sits atop a coastal bluff, and the 1898 Hughes House, which was designed for a pioneer dairy farmer with beautifully restored Victorian architecture. You can tour both the lighthouse and old home during the summer.
Why Is Oregon Perfect For Long Term Rv Parks
Motorhome and RV enthusiasts are always on the lookout for great places that grab attention after a single glance. Oregon packs in a wild ride for the people who seek the natural side of the trip. Here in Oregon, you can expect to see places such as Silver Falls State Park, Oregon Zoo, Lan Su Chinese garden, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Mount Bachelor, and many more to make your trip worthwhile ride.
If you are looking for some of the best long-term RV parks in the state, you will find about all of them here in this article. All the spots in the list have unique features and perks for the whole family. If you are unfamiliar with the entire long-term RV Park then here is a video that will give you all the proper information about the Long Term RV parks.
This video focuses on the Oregon Coast at Pacific City the beautiful sea just hits the right spot for many of the RV owners. Below you are going to see all the famous long-term spots in Oregon and the things that you can expect to receive from these places.
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More Camping On The Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast is one of those peculiar places where you can find ample camping that feels secluded and traditional, but that never quite leaves you far from cute small towns to explore or decent-sized cities with grocery and big box stores to stock up. The communities tend to be smaller than average, andoutside of weekends or particularly busy summer monthsyou wont feel socked in by the crowds and can still manage to get a signal on your phone. While state and private parks hold the lions share of options, there are hundreds of places to camp along the coast, all ready for your adventurous spirit to explore.
South Beach State Park
South Beach Park provides another scenic place to park your RV while you see the attractions in Newport . Nearby you can visit shops and restaurants downtown, Rogue Brewery, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, exhibits at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, South Jetty, and a historic lighthouse at Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site.
The park itself has an idyllic beach, 9-hole disc golf course, and a paved jetty trail for joggers and bikers. Read more on RV Park Reviews
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Tillamook Head Backpackers Camp Ecola State Park
Tillamook Head | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane
Nestled into the forested surroundings of Ecola State Park on the Oregon coast, a unique free tent camping area awaits anyone willing to carry their gear to the top of Tillamook Head. This free hike-in campground features three Adirondack shelters and available space to pitch a tent.
The potential popularity of this headland camping area is somewhat decreased by the lack of available water and the steep approximately four-mile hike to the top of Tillamook Head. Nearby vault toilets help keep the area free of catholes. And a covered picnic area at the campground is popular with overnight visitors and day hikers alike.
The backpackers camp is accessible from the cities of Cannon Beach or Seaside. The route from Seaside is the recommended approach, by first taking the Seaside Streetcar to the North Tillamook Head Trailhead. It’s all uphill from here, but the dense coastal forest offers a refreshing scene to distract from the deep breathing of hiking uphill.
For evening entertainment at the campground, a short spur trail leads to a dramatic western-facing view of the offshore Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. A large communal fire pit near the Adirondack shelters is also a popular community spot outside of the fire-ban season.
Campground #: Silver Falls State Park
Another popular destination is Silver Falls State Park. Known as the crown jewel of the Oregon State Parks, Silver Falls State Park offers hiking galore.
It is even home to a 177-foot waterfall . This place truly is a hikers dream!
Families have gathered here for years for family reunions, potlucks, and weddings. Use the parks horseshoe pits, playground, picnic tables spacious lawns, and barbecue stands and table areas to host your next large family gathering.
Consider wildlife viewing while horseback riding through this gorgeous, lush landscape from the Howard Creek Horse Camp.
The campground has 48 electrical sites with potable water, as well as 43 tent sites. They even offer pet-friendly deluxe cabins, hot showers, and flush toilets!
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Grande Hot Springs Rv Resort
Located in the north-east of the state is Grande Hot Springs RV Resort, based in the scenic Grande Rhonde Valley region. Its also just 8 miles south of downtown La Grande, which is home to a number of fun attractions such as Hilgard Junction State Park, the Wallowa Lake Scenic bike trail, and Hot Lake Springs.
Fort Stevens State Park
Fort Stevens is at the northernmost tip of the Oregon coast along the Columbia River . The park was a U.S. military defense installation for 84 years, and you can still see the old fort and concrete gun batteries.
The park now has a popular campground with full hookup sites, beautiful hiking trails and beaches. Its also the site of a century-old shipwreck, the Peter Iredalethe remains of the old bow and masts can still be seen sticking up out of the sand. Read more about Fort Stevens State Park
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Oregon State Parks Imposes New Fee On Out
Camping at one of Oregon’s state parks will cost a little extra if you’re visiting from outside the state beginning on Aug. 10.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced a 30% surcharge on nonresidents who make new camping reservations or arrive at a state park campground beginning Aug. 10.
The surcharge is aimed at encouraging local recreation and providing funding to operate Oregon’s state parks system, which was hit hard by COVID-19 shutdowns and losses from the Oregon Lottery.
We love serving all people, no matter where they live, said Lisa Sumption, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department director. Even so, this temporary change is needed to remind people to stay as close to home as possible while enjoying the outdoors, and to provide much-needed support for the Oregon state park system.”
The added fee breaks down as follows:
The average cost for a full-service RV site is currently $33 per night, but starting Aug. 10, that will increase to an average of $42 for nonresidents.
The average tent rate is currently $19 per night and will increase to $23 for nonresidents.
The surcharge could raise around $500,000 through the end of the year and “help hire staff and pay for cleaning supplies and other park operations,” OPRD said in a news release.
The move is temporary and only stays in place through 2020, parks officials said.
If Oregon wanted to continue the added fee into the future, that would require a more complex process, Havel said.