view of volcanic mountain topped with snow and purple hues below

There was a beautiful weekend on the horizon, and we decided that we should go camping in Oregon.

However, with all sites within driving distance already booked, we ended up staying home. 😫

Instead, we headed out on a beautiful day hike near Portland.

It was great, but not what we wanted that particular weekend. 😐

Sound familiar?!

Camping in Oregon is one of our favorite ways to experience the beautiful scenery that our state has to offer. But, it can also be a huge challenge to find the perfect spot.

Or, at least it seems that way.

If only we had known then what we know now, we would have been able to find a great option even though it looked like there was nothing available at first glance.

Whether you live in Oregon or are planning a trip, we’ve pulled together everything you need to know in this guide to camping in Oregon.

You know – so you don’t have to spend the best weekends of the year staying home because you don’t know where to look. 😉

father and son standing on ledge over beach while boy runs on sand below them
Cape Lookout State Park is one of our favs on the Oregon Coast.

Types of Camping in Oregon

Glamping

Look. I love being in nature.

But, sometimes I also love some of those “creature comforts.” 

You know…like a comfortable bed. Or heat when it’s freezing outside. 🤷‍♀️

Sure, I’ll get out there and go tent camping too. But, if I can be comfortable AND enjoy the outdoors – even better!

If you’re like me at all, that’s where glamping comes in.

If you’ve never heard of glamping, it’s short for glamorous camping and is precisely what you might imagine when you hear those words. Think camping with a little bit of luxury thrown in.

The level of luxury can vary widely, from a yurt with a raised mattress to a tiny house stocked with everything you would need in the middle of the forest.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a camper, you may find that glamping is the perfect balance of nature and comfort. 

RV Camping

RV Camping is camping that takes place in a recreational vehicle of some kind. It could be a campervan, a motorhome, or many other variations.

RV camping can be another great option when you want a few more comforts, but still want to enjoy the great outdoors. One of the huge perks to camping with an RV is that you get to set it up exactly how you will be most comfortable and take it wherever you go.

boy wrapped in blanket holding silver primus mug while camping in oregon at detroit lake in Roamerica campervan with Rumpl blankets on bed
Sometimes it’s just nice to have an RV or campervan.

Tent Camping

Tent camping is another excellent option in Oregon. There are plenty of campsites to choose from across the state, so you’re sure to find something that suits your mood. 

One of our favorite things about tent camping is how inexpensive it can be. Once you have your gear, a night at a campground is very reasonable!

camping image with picnic table in foreground with two mason jars of overnight oats and 3 containers of fresh fruit on top with tent, fire pit and camp chairs in the background

Free Camping

Yes, there’s even free camping in Oregon where you don’t need to pay for your site. There are a lot of options for this one, which can include boondocking, dispersed camping, and more.

Related: How to Find the Best (and Free) Campsites

Dispersed Camping

One of the huge perks to dispersed camping is that it is free. However, that comes with the loss of some amenities. When you choose to camp at a dispersed location, you will need to plan for bathroom and water needs, trash removal, and be sure to follow guidelines for where you may set up camp.

Dispersed camping is camping outside designated campgrounds, in places such as the National Forest. Because there is such a large portion of National Forest land across the state, the possibilities for dispersed camping in Oregon are huge.

Boondocking

When it comes to boondocking, there can be a lot of different interpretations, but most of the time, it refers to “dry” camping in an RV. This essentially means that you must be fully self-contained, pack everything out, and house your own water and waste the entire time you are there.

Backpacking

There are a ton of great backpacking locations in Oregon. We know because we have about a bajillion of them on our list now that the boys are older.

Check out the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for some great ideas of where to start.

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Things to Know Before You Go

Campfires

During the low-risk months, campfires are generally allowed with certain restrictions. Be sure to check the most recent campfire restrictions before you head out, as things can change rapidly throughout the summer months.

For current fire restrictions, check the appropriate source before you go: 

Reservations

Reservations are the bane of my existence when it comes to camping.

I love knowing that we have a site.

Especially when we’re sneaking out after work on a Friday.

BUT, getting those reservations can be a little challenging, to say the least.

In the Pacific Northwest, campsites that allow reservations typically book up for the summer during the winter. 

Yup. You read that right.

And, while I’m a pretty good planner, that’s pretty far in advance – even for me.

Sometimes we will get lucky and find a site after the early part of the year, but we have to be very flexible.

Our advice? If you have a particular site or campground you just HAVE to visit, book it as soon as possible.

Thankfully, even if you can’t get a reservation, there are a lot of first come, first served sites as well. These can be a great option, especially if you can scoot out early Friday morning to grab one for the weekend.

view through trees of partially drained lakebed, campground in Oregon at Detroit Lake, and mountains in the distance
I can see our Detroit Lake camp from here – can you spot it?

When we are looking for camping reservations, here are some of our favorite booking sites to check.

You can find out more about those sites and how we use them to find unique, sometimes free, campsites in this post.

Be Responsible

Last fall, while camping, we were walking on the lake bed of Detroit Lake – the level of the reservoir is usually dropped in the fall – and we kept finding trash.

man and boy walking on large logs on dry lakebed under clear blue skies while camping in Oregon at Detroit Lake State Park
Exploring the lakebed.

Our then 7-year-old took it upon himself to start collecting the trash and put it in the proper place. 🙌

We make it a point to emphasize the importance of leaving places better than you found them to our kids. Or, at a minimum, to leave no evidence that we were there.

It’s incredibly disappointing when you head out to a quiet spot in nature, expecting to find a pristine escape, only to find mounds of trash. 😠

We can do better!

We encourage you to check out Leave No Trace and do your part to keep our natural resources beautiful for future generations.

Where to Camp in Oregon

Oregon State Park Camping

boy hiking on forested trail with bright tie dye sweatshirt near the campground at Cape Lookout State Park
Heading into the forest to explore the trails at Cape Lookout State Park

With over 50 campgrounds throughout Oregon, Oregon State Parks are excellent choices for camping. You’ll often find tent camping, RV camping, and some even have yurts or cabins you can rent.

Reservation info:

For camping reservations at Oregon State Parks, you can reserve anywhere from nine months to one day ahead. However, during popular times (like summer), they do fill up quickly. 

Thankfully, they also have over 20 campgrounds that operate first-come, first-served. So, if you can’t make a reservation at the beginning of the year, you can still find a great option.

father and son standing on ledge over beach while boy runs on sand below them near campground at Cape Lookout State Park in Oregon
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to camping here!

USDA Forest Service Camping in Oregon

The USDA Forest Service also operates locations that provide camping opportunities across the state. You can find RV and tent campgrounds, cabin rentals, as well as many options for dispersed camping.

11 National Forest areas in Oregon allow for camping. You can find camping closer to the coast in Siuslaw National Forest, head into the woods in Willamette or Mt. Hood National Forest, or explore the dryer side of the state in Umatilla National Forest.

Reservation info:

Campgrounds within the National Forest are primarily reservation-based, but some sites may have first-come, first-served options. You can reserve these campgrounds up to six months before your arrival, and most allow booking up to 48 hours in advance.

However, as with State Park Camping, these sites can fill up quickly, so if you’re looking for a particular location or have dates that are set in stone, you’ll want to make your reservations early.

National Park Camping in Oregon

While Crater Lake is technically the only National Park within Oregon, we also have National Monuments, Historical Sites, Trails, and Preserves.

Reservation info:

For camping in Crater Lake, you can book sites at the Mazama Campground. There are other sites available nearby in National Forests and privately owned campgrounds as well, so if Mazama Campground is fully booked, expand your search a bit and see what you can find.

Pending weather and opening dates, Crater Lake typically opens in June. However, during this month, sites are first-come, first-served only.

Reservations are accepted in July, August, and September for Mazama Campground and make up the majority of sites. They do have some sites available for first-come, first-served, however, so if you arrive early without a reservation, you may have luck!

Camping Checklist Graphic

Camping on Bureau of Land Management Properties in Oregon

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is another great option when you’re looking for places to go camping in Oregon. BLM public lands have options for camping in Oregon that vary from established campgrounds to backcountry camping.

Reservation info:

Most of the campgrounds on BLM land are first-come, first served. However, a few sites take reservations. Established campgrounds typically require a fee that assists with maintaining the campground. This interactive map is a great way to see the options available. 

Dispersed camping is generally allowed on the majority of BLM land. You’ll just need to pay attention to any notifications that the area is closed or restricted. Sometimes this happens to protect wildlife – for instance, during nesting season in certain areas. 

There are regulations on how long you can stay in a particular time period and how far away you must move before setting up camp again, but in general, they are very generous. Find out more here. 

Privately Owned Campgrounds and Land in Oregon

When it comes to finding campsites, aside from the government-run options, there are many more choices for your adventure. While we love a standard campground, sometimes it’s nice to have something more unique.

Over the years, some of our favorite finds were a private campground with animals for the kids to “meet” and a train we could ride around the property and a rest stop (free) where we woke up to incredible views.

Reservation info:

For all the details of how we find unique and free campsite options, check out this post.

view of snake river out back of campervan with two pairs of feet crossed and sticking out under grey blanket while camping overnight
One of the free camping spots we found by using the tips in this post.

Campsites by Region

While there are hundreds of locations to choose for camping in Oregon, we have pulled together some suggestions for you in different regions to get you started on your hunt for the perfect campsite.

Oregon Beach Camping

Related: Long Beach, Washington: How to Have a Killer Camping Weekend

Camping Near Portland

Eastern Oregon Camping

Camping Near Crater Lake

Camping Near Bend

Current Status Links

Due to the current recommendations from national, state, and local authorities, some locations may be restricted or limited. To find the most up to date information, we suggest checking the following links before heading out on your camping trip. 

We’ve done our best to pull together the most current links for information. However, the situation is changing rapidly, so if you happen to find a link that is not current or working, we’d love to know about it in the comments or via email.

Ultimately, there are literally hundreds of locations to go camping in Oregon, whether you prefer a full-service campground or the solitude of the backcountry. 

Do you have a favorite hidden gem?

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4 Comments

  1. This was so helpful! We love Oregon and we love camping- we just need to combine those two. 🙂 That is awesome that there is FREE camping there! That just doesn’t exist in CA, so I’m definitely going to look into that.

    1. Awesome! You guys will totally have to give it a try sometime. The free camping is usually primitive, but it’s great to have the option! 😉

  2. Thank you so much for this inspiring post! We usually stay in hotels and apartments, but while reading your post I thought; it would be great to do glamping in Oregon once! It looks so beautiful!

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