Portland and its “hipster” reputation might be the first thing that pops to mind when people think of Oregon, and while Portland is indeed a lovely city, the truth is that there’s so much more to this state than Portland. Expansive, mountainous, and wild, Oregon is a bit of a beautiful paradise for outdoor-lovers—it’s easy to see the appeal that this area had for the early settlers coming west and conquering the wilderness. With over 150 state parks encompassing a wide variety of breathtaking scenery, there are plenty of fantastic camping options all around the state. Oregon is a place that truly feels wild; the broad landscapes and sweeping mountainous views can easily make you feel secluded and at one with nature.
In Outdoor Ratings’ list of 20 best camping areas in Oregon (listed in no particular order), we’ve tried to cover some of the best spots across a diversity of geographic landscapes—mountainous, forested, coastal—as Oregon does indeed have a little something for everyone. We’ve considered both the beauty of the area and the various recreational activities that are popular in a given spot, as well as the variety of camping options and the ease of access or reservation at each campsite.
20Willamette National Forest
Located about 3 hours southeast of Portland and just a little over an hour directly east of Eugene, Willamette National Forest is made up of over 1.5 million acres and eight designated wilderness areas. Named for the Willamette River, this is one of the largest national forests in the United States. Backpacking and hiking are popular within the trails and mountains of the forest, as well as skiing. With numerous rivers running throughout the forest, fishing and rafting are also popular activities here. The mountainous landscape, the various types of fir trees, and the volcanic history in this forest all make up a beautiful wilderness that is ideal for many outdoor recreational activities.
There are over 70 developed campgrounds within the Willamette National Forest, catering to both RV and tent campers. A few cabin rentals are also available within the forest. Dispersed camping is also permissible throughout the forest if you would prefer to camp in more wilderness rather than on a developed campsite.
19Mt. Hood National Forest
Only about an hour away from Portland, Mt. Hood National Forest (named after the volcano Mount Hood) is one of the most visited national forests in the U.S., with more than 4 million people coming to the forest each year. Popular recreational activities within the forest include fishing, hiking, rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, and skiing. Mountain climbing is also popular here, with Mt. Hood being a favorite destination for many mountain climbers.
While most of the visitors to the park don’t camp or stay overnight, for those who do wish to be a little more immersed in nature than what a day trip can allow, Mt. Hood does have plenty of great camping options available, whether that’s in one of several campgrounds, in a cabin rental, or a more secluded stay in one of the wilderness areas where dispersed camping is permitted. No matter where you stay, the lakes, trails, mountains, rivers, and other natural scenery throughout the forest make Mt. Hood National Forest a beautiful place for a camping excursion.
18Crater Lake National Park
Home to the deepest lake in the United States, Crater Lake National Park covers over 180,000 acres of land in the Cascade Mountains in southern Oregon. One of the most popular things to do in Crater Lake National Park is to explore the Rim Drive, a road that travels around the rim of the lake and can be traversed by car, foot, or bike. There are approximately 90 miles of hiking trails throughout the park (approximately 33 miles of which are part of the Pacific Crest Trail), most of which are considered to be moderately strenuous hikes, but give you the chance to get close and personal with the breathtaking beauty of the park and the mountainous scenery.
Camping is available at two different developed campgrounds in Crater Lake National Park. The Lost Creek Campground is a first-come, first-serve, tent-only campground, while the Mazama Campground has reservable sites and has spots for both RVs and tents.
17Fremont-Winema National Forest
Originally considered two separate national forests, the Fremont-Winema National Forest was merged together in 2002 to become managed as one national forest with more than 2 million acres of land to its name. There are four designated wilderness areas within the national forest, made up of the beautiful mountains and trees that Oregon is so well-known for. All the typical outdoor recreational activities are popular in Fremont-Winema National Forest, including biking, hiking, boating, horseback riding, fishing, picnicking, etc. There are also multiple scenic driving areas throughout the forest if you’d just like to cruise through the natural beauty.
There is a range of camping options available to you in the national forests, with several different campgrounds, some of which are very primitive while other sites are more developed and offer more amenities to their campers. Cabin rentals are also available within the park. For those looking for the more authentic wilderness experience, there are several areas outside of the developed campgrounds where dispersed camping is permissible.
16Tillamook State Forest
Just about an hour west of Portland, Tillamook State Forest is a beautiful outdoor area of over 300,000 acres that is popular for fishing, swimming, hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, and other various outdoor activities. The Tillamook Forest Center offers a wide range of educational programs and activities to help you learn about and explore the forest, but there is also plenty of freedom to explore the trails and recreational activities on your own.
Camping is available at several different campgrounds within the Tillamook State Forest, most of which offer basic amenities such as toilets and water at an easily accessible distance from all campsites. If you’re horseback riding on your trip to Tillamook, there are a few equestrian campgrounds within the forest as well, with suitable stabling/pasturing areas for horses.
15Cape Lookout State Park
Cape Lookout State Park is located about 2 hours west of Portland, right along the Pacific coastline. Although there is no camping available directly on the beach, the campsites in the park give you a beautiful view of the ocean and the trails and paths in the park make it easy to get to the beach for walking and exploration along the water’s edge. There are also several miles of trails throughout the park, both ocean-view and in the forested inner areas of the park, giving you an excellent chance for nature and wildlife observation (you might even spot a whale in the water if you’re fortunate!).
There are nearly 200 camping sites in Cape Lookout State Parks; most of these are tent sites, but some of them have hookups for RV’s as well. A few cabin rentals are available here, and if you’re looking for something a little different, there are even several yurts available for rent!
14Silver Falls State Park
The largest state park in Oregon, Silver Falls State Park is named after the multiple waterfalls along Silver Creek running through the park. There are over 25 miles of trails to be explored within the park, suitable for hiking, biking, or horseback riding; the Trail of Ten Falls is one of the most popular hiking loops, giving you the chance to see ten of the waterfalls within the park, and even walk behind some of them! With over 9,000 acres of lush, beautiful scenery, and a rich historic past, it’s easy to see why many people consider Silver Falls State Park to be the “crown jewel” of the Oregon state parks system.
Camping options are abundant here—not only does the park offer the typical tent/RV sites as well as cabin rentals, but there is also a horse campground if you’ve got your horse with you while exploring the park. There are also plenty of group campsites available and even dormitory-style bunkhouses that can accommodate large groups.
13Cascadia State Park
Cascadia State Park is home to the beautiful Soda Creek Falls, located along the South Santiam River. There are two main trails that go through the park, one of which snakes along Soda Creek and leads to the falls, while the other runs along the South Santiam River. Fishing and swimming are popular activities here. Although it might not sound like much, the scenery along the river and the tranquility of the forest make this state park one of Oregon’s most beautiful spots—especially in autumn, when the trees are changing colors.
Camping in Cascadia State Park is limited to tent camping, and there are only about 20 campsites in the park. But if you’re looking for a peaceful, secluded spot in nature, and you don’t need all the frills and other options that many other campgrounds offer, then Cascadia State Park is a lovely camping area indeed.
12Ochoco National Forest / Crooked River Grasslands
Ochoco National Forest and the Crooked River Grasslands in Central Oregon together make up one of the state’s most unique and beautiful outdoor recreational areas. There is plenty to do and see here, and there are hiking trails throughout the mountains of the forest as well as in the grassland area. You’ll want to take your time exploring, and be sure to check out the various scenic spots throughout the two areas, such as the Island National Natural Landmark (at the confluence of the Deschutes River and the Crooked River), Lookout Mountain (giving you great views of the Cascades and the Blue Mountains), the Big Summit Wild Horse Territory (yes, wild horses live here!), and several other beautiful spots. Biking, hiking, and horseback riding are all popular ways to explore the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River Grasslands.
The camping options in the forest are typical; there are several different campgrounds for both tent and RV camping, group sites are also available, as well as four reservable cabins. There are also horse camps in Ochoco National Forest for those campers who are traveling with their horses.
11Cape Blanco State Park
Another coastal spot, Cape Blanco State Park is best known for being home to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse and the historic Hughes Home (the homestead built by Patrick Hughes, an Irish settler during the 1800s), both of which can be discovered and learned about through guided tours offered by the park. There are also several miles of trails throughout the park, for both on-foot hiking as well as trails for horseback riders, giving you great views of the ocean.
Although day trips are a common way to take in Cape Blanco State Park, many visitors also choose to stay in one of the park’s campsites in order to best maximize their experience at Cape Blanco and to see as much of the park’s beauty as they can. There are about 50 standard campsites in the park, which are available on a first come, first served basis. If you’re camping with a horse, there are reservable horse campsites available. Group camping is also available and reservable at Cape Blanco, as well as 4 cabins that can be reserved.
10Humbug Mountain State Park
Another coastal park, Humbug Mountain State Park is just south of Port Orford, Oregon, on US Route 101. Hiking to the top of the park’s namesake mountain, Humbug Mountain, is one of the most popular activities to do here. In general, the mountains that surround the park help to shield the area from harsh weather or cold winds, making this one of the warmest spots along the Oregon coast. Windsurfing, fishing and scuba diving are also popular water activities around Humbug Mountain State Park. Although the campsites are not located directly on the beach, the beach is easily accessible from the campgrounds on the park, making this a lovely little spot for a beachside stroll.
The standard campsite options are available for both tents and RVs, although there are more tent-only sites in Humbug Mountain State Park than there are electrical hookups for RVs. The park is open year-round, but camping spots do tend to fill up pretty quickly in the summer, so you might want to get an advance reservation.
9Deschutes National Forest
Deschutes National Forest is made up of 1.8 million acres of land along the eastern edge of the Cascades and stretches into 4 different Oregon counties. There is a lot to see and do within the forest, with over 250 caves, 5 designated wilderness areas, 6 National Wild and Scenic rivers, as well as other recreational and conservational areas. The Newberry National Volcanic Monument is another big point of interest within the Deschutes National Forest, and there is a visitor center associated with the volcanic monument to help share information about the volcanic history of the land here. There are also three scenic byways through the forest if you’d just like to drive around for a bit and take in the scenery.
There are over 80 campgrounds within Deschutes National Forest, giving campers plenty of options, ranging anywhere from more rustic tent-only options to RV sites with more amenities and electrical hookups. There are also cabin rentals available within Deschutes National Forest. No matter how you choose to camp here, there is something to satisfy any camper’s tastes.
8Harris Beach State Park
Named after Scottish settler George Harris, Harris Beach State Park is a coastal park located in southern Oregon, nearing the California-Oregon state border. Bird Island (also called Goat Island) is part of Harris Beach State Park and is the largest island off the Oregon State Coast. This National Wildlife Sanctuary gained its name due to its status as a breeding ground for rare birds like the tufted puffin. All in all, Harris Beach State Park is an excellent spot for wildlife viewing; seals, sea lions, and whales can all be spotted from the park, depending on the time of year.
There are quite a few camping sites within the park, well over 100 spots in all; about 35 spots are set-up for RV’s, with the majority of the campsites being tent only. There are also 6 yurts available for rent at Harris Beach State Park.
7Cove Palisades State Park
Located in between Willamette National Forest and Ochoco National Forest, Cove Palisades State Park is located in Oregon’s high desert region, with warm sunny weather in the summer. Lake Billy Chinook is a large part of the Cove Palisades State Park, situated in a deep canyon that was carved by the three rivers (Crooked, Deschutes, and Metolius) flowing into the lake, and the sharp edges of the cliffs surrounding the lake give this park a unique and remarkable beauty. Water activities are a large part of the recreational activities in Cove Palisades State Park, and there is a resort and marina in the park where boating, fishing, water skiing, and other rentals can be facilitated.
There are two different campgrounds within the state park, with nearly 300 different campsites between the two campgrounds. RV, tent, and group camping are all available in the park. There are also cabins and yurts for rent. The park itself is open year-round, but check specific campgrounds for opening seasons.
Located in southeastern Oregon, Steens Mountain and the surrounding area is a popular spot for hiking, camping, sightseeing, picnicking, etc. The summit of the mountain can be reached by car, as well as other scenic viewpoints along the mountain. There are also several hot springs along the base of the mountain. Stargazing is also very popular in the Steens Mountain area, as the light pollution is so low here. Hiking, however, is one of the main recreational activities here, and the various campgrounds in the area provide access to a variety of trails on and around the mountain.
There are several different campgrounds in the Steens Mountain area, including an equestrian campground suitable for staying with horses overnight. Primitive camping is also permitted in most of the region around the mountain, so there’s no need to feel limited to the developed campgrounds if you’d prefer something a bit more rustic.
5Valley of the Rogue State Park
Located along the Rogue River, Valley of the Rogue State Park is a relatively small but beautiful outdoor recreation area in southern Oregon. Hiking and picnicking are common activities within the park, and there is an easy hike along the river’s edge that stretches just over a mile in length. The park itself is lovely and provides a peaceful and relaxing camping atmosphere, but with its convenient location off Highway 5, Valley of the Rogue is also a great spot to stay while exploring the surrounding areas, such as Crater Lake National Park or Oregon Caves National Monument.
There are over 150 camping sites in the park’s campground, and about 90 of these are full hook-up sites, as well as a group tent camping area and even a meeting hall for campers. There are also 8 yurts available for rent, giving you plenty of camping options.
4Ainsworth State Park
Located in the Columbia River Gorge and just 4 miles away from Multnomah Falls, Ainsworth State Park is home to many beautiful waterfalls as well as several great hiking trails. One of these, Nesmith Point Trail (which actually runs out of the park’s boundaries), leads to excellent views of St. Peter’s Dome, a large basalt mound overlooking the Columbia River. This park is primarily a hiking spot, and no stay here is complete without spending some time traversing the lush scenery of the trails.
The campground offers about 40 full-hookup campsites, a few tent-only sites, and also a designated biker camping area. Basic amenities are available on the campground, and an abundance of trees gives a shaded, secluded atmosphere to each site.
3Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
Located in southern Oregon, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest actually crosses over into parts of California as well. As the name implies, this area used to be two separate National Forests that were merged into one; the forest now covers almost 1.8 million acres, stretching from the crest of the Cascades Range into the Siskiyou Mountains. There is a lot to see and do in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and with hundreds of miles of trails throughout the forest, there are ample opportunities to explore via hiking, biking, skiing, horseback riding, or motorcycling. Fishing and kayaking are also popular activities within the national forest, along with other water activities. All in all, there is quite a bit of beautiful nature and wildlife to take in when you’re in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
There are many developed campgrounds throughout the national forest, giving you plenty of options whether you’re tent camping or bringing an RV. There are also several cabin rentals, as well as plenty of areas throughout the forest where dispersed camping is permitted.
2Umpqua National Forest
Bordering Crater Lake National Park, Umpqua National Forest is named after the Umpqua Indian tribe and covers nearly 1 million acres of land in southwest Oregon. This forest is marked by several beautiful waterfalls, as well as three designated wilderness areas and a National Scenic Byway that will give you the chance to drive through and absorb some of the breathtaking scenery of this National Forest. Basalt cliffs, old trees, and lots of water—waterfalls, rivers, and lakes—make up the distinct and gorgeous scenery of the Umpqua National Forest. Fishing, biking, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, and boating are some of the more popular recreational activities in Umpqua National Forest, as well as some traditional winter activities such as skiing and snowmobiling.
With several different areas for cabin rentals and a wide variety of campground options (some of which are located along the streams, rivers, and lakes within the forest), Umpqua National Forest is easily one of the best places for camping due both to its beauty and its diversity of camping options.
1Siuslaw National Forest
Located along the central Oregon coast, Siuslaw National Forest covers over 600,000 acres of land and ranges across lush forested areas further inland as well as the beautiful shoreside regions along the coast. The unique Oregon Dunes recreation area is part of Siuslaw National Forest, the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America. The forest is also home to Mary’s Peak, the highest point in the Oregon Coast Range. With several different scenic recreational areas, three designated wildernesses, Siuslaw National Forest is full of natural diversity and wildlife. Hiking is popular here, whether through the mountains or along the beach and in the tide pools; fishing, biking, horseback riding, and other standard outdoor activities are all popular here as well.
There are about 40 developed campgrounds in Siuslaw National Forest, and the majority of these campsites are best for tent camping—while many campsites do have space for RVs, there are not many electrical hookups available. Dispersed camping is also permitted in many areas of the forest, outside of the developed campgrounds.
As you can see, there are plenty of gorgeous camping areas in Oregon; our list has only scratched the surface of the options available around the state. As always, when choosing a specific campsite, it’s best to look up details on fees, reservations, park rules, etc.—much of this information can be found on state park websites. Wherever you choose to go for your next Oregon camping adventure, you’re certain to be surrounded by beautiful scenery and wildlife.