Planning Your Oregon
One of the great things about planning an Oregon camping trip is the number of
options visitors have, both in things to do and see and in where to stay. With
nearly 100 state and federal Oregon campgrounds and even more privately owned
facilities, the challenge won't be finding Oregon campgrounds, it will be deciding
which ones to choose.
When to Go
For most people, work and school schedules often help determine when they can
take an Oregon vacation. Those with kids typically have to wait for the summer
months if they want to visit for more than a few days. For most this works
out great because Oregon weather is at its warmest, and it is the peak of the
travel season so all the Oregon campgrounds and attractions are open. Reservations
are recommended during the summer months as many of the most popular campgrounds
tend to fill up fast.
Many festivals are held in the summer, wild and cultivated flowers are in
bloom, and there is even a resident group of whales along the coast for those
that want to experience Oregon's legendary whale watching.
Whale watching is at its peak in March, making spring an ideal time to visit
Oregon, especially the coastal area. Snowmelt also increases the water levels
in rivers, creating churning rapids just waiting to be kayaked or rafted.
Autumn is a good time to visit if you plan to fish Oregon coastal rivers and
streams. Steelhead and salmon enter these waters to spawn beginning in September
and continuing into late fall. Forest Service offices provide information on
fishing conditions in their areas, as do websites for the local communities.
Fall is also a good time to visit one of Oregon's vineyards. The Willamette
Valley, slightly inland from Oregon's northwest coast, is known as wine country,
and there are numerous wineries that offer tours and tastings.
In addition to fishing and wine tasting, the fall foliage is in full color
and the Oregon camping sites are typically less crowded than in summer months.
Contact the Oregon Fall Foliage Hotline at 1-800-547-5445 to find peak color
times for the areas you plan to visit.
Winter is the perfect time to visit Oregon if you like skiing, snowboarding,
and other snow activities. In the winter months, average inland daytime temperatures
are often in the 40s. A second whale migration in December through January
makes a winter trip to the Oregon coast appealing as well. The ocean climate
helps keep temperatures relatively mild, and winter camping in Oregon can be
cozy and comfortable with proper clothing and camping equipment. Even in mid
January, temperatures often reach into the 50s in the coastal areas.
Many of the state park campgrounds remain open year round although running
water may not be available. Fewer families come to Oregon in the winter months,
so if you like quiet getaways, this may be the best time to visit Oregon.
Choosing Oregon Camping Sites
City living: Portland, Eugene and several other larger cities
in Oregon have numerous campsites close to town for those that want to be close
to the action but still enjoy the fun of RV travel or tenting it. Even Oregon's
more populated areas are surrounded by forests, mountains, and waterways, so
finding a natural setting is not difficult.
Private campgrounds in Oregon: There are hundreds of private
campgrounds throughout all areas of Oregon. Some cater to families with children
and offer playgrounds, activities, and other kid-friendly features. Others
are more basic or focus on nature and peaceful settings. No matter what your
areas of interest and your camping style, you can likely find a private campground
to fit your needs. Begin by contacting visitor information offices or city
chambers of commerce in the area of the state you plan to visit.
Oregon state park camping: The number of state parks, scenic
sites and recreation areas in Oregon is simply amazing. While some of these
are day use only facilities, many provide overnight camping with both tent
and RV sites. Often, these Oregon state park camping sites are located in some
of the state’s most beautiful scenery, and fees are typically comparable
or less than those at privately owned campgrounds.
For a truly unique experience, some Oregon state park camping areas offer
camping in tepees, yurts and covered wagons. Visit the Oregon Parks and Recreation
Department's state parks website to
find Oregon camping sites in the area you plan to visit. When you get to the
park, don't forget to stop and get your permit or park pass.
Oregon beach camping: Oregon is one of only two states in
the U.S. whose beaches are all considered public land. The beaches are managed
by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and many offer camping facilities.
With the stars overhead and the sound of the surf providing background music,
Oregon beach camping can be one of the most memorable ways to experience the
beauty of the Oregon coast. Note: it is illegal to camp on the beach in unauthorized
areas, and anyone setting up camp without permission can be asked to leave.
What to Bring When Camping in Oregon
In addition to the standard food, water, clothing, first aid items and camping
equipment, it is advisable to also include:
- a hat
- sweatshirts and jackets for layering
- a plastic garbage bag, to use as a rain poncho just in case
- a map of the area
- a flashlight
- bug repellent
- a pocket mirror (for signaling if you get lost)
- a whistle
Check all your equipment before you leave to make sure it works properly and
is in good condition. Many Oregon campgrounds are in remote locations where
it can be difficult to find replacement batteries or lantern fuel in the middle
of the night. For this reason, it is also helpful to know some basic first
aid and wilderness survival information.
Weather conditions, construction and repairs, and standard regulations can
impact campground activities and services. For example, some Oregon campgrounds
prohibit alcohol. Open campfires may be restricted at certain times of the
year. Buildings and natural areas may be closed. Pets may not be allowed or
allowed only in certain areas of the campground. It is a good idea to contact
your chosen campsite or visit their website to learn about rules, regulations,
and current conditions.