With quiet beaches, vibrant cities, and massive expanses of forest, Oregon has something for everyone.
Oregon has long been known as an outdoor destination, with snow-capped mountains, rugged high desert, Pacific Coast beaches, and roaring rivers all within a few hours’ drive of one another. While Portland attracts visitors with its celebrated food scene and music venues, Oregon offers much more for those who’d prefer a quieter getaway out in nature. If you’ve come to camp or hike, you’ll have no shortage of options to choose from—in fact, there are 11 national forests, hundreds of state parks and recreation areas, and 2.5 million acres of protected wilderness within the state’s borders.
Extending from the border with Washington state down to the community of Springfield, the Willamette Valley is Oregon’s main economic and cultural hub. Although it’s home to the state’s three most populated cities (Portland, Salem, and Eugene), much of the Willamette Valley is dominated by forests and countryside, with plenty of state parks, hiking and mountain biking trails, hot springs, and rivers.
Just east of Portland on the border with Washington, the Columbia River Gorge offers easy access to miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, and great skiing and snowboarding. The adjacent Mt. Hood region has equally beautiful scenery and is as popular for winter skiing and snowboarding as it is for hiking, swimming, and camping in the summer months.
This region is popular year-round, attracting whale-watching fans in the cooler months and campers and hikers in the summer months. Popular Oregon Coast activities include hiking, tide pool viewing, clamming, crabbing, off-road vehicle rides on the sweeping Oregon Dunes, and sampling world-famous cheese and ice cream in Tillamook. While some brave souls don wetsuits for surfing and diving, the Pacific Ocean waters rarely get warm enough for comfortable dips. Some of the area’s best camping options can be found at Harris Beach State Park, Sunset Bay State Park, and Cape Lookout State Park, all of which offer tent camping, yurt rentals, and RV sites with hookups.
Stretching from the portion of the Cascade Range south of the Columbia Gorge all the way east to the Oregon-Idaho border, central and eastern Oregon offer a dryer, sunnier alternative to the rainier parts of the state, with a mix of lush forest and craggy high desert landscapes. Highlights include Deschutes National Forest, popular for backpacking and backcountry stays, while campers in search of a more developed camping experience can head to one of the many Oregon state parks along the Deschutes River, near Bend.
Oregon’s southernmost region offers a variety of scenery, with a mix of lakes, forests, and rivers interspersed with rolling expanses of countryside (not to mention some great wineries). The region’s most famous natural attraction is Crater Lake National Park, Oregon’s only national park, set near the southeastern reaches of Umpqua National Forest.
The best time of year to go camping in Oregon is during the summer months, from June to September. During this time, the weather is typically warm and dry, with temperatures ranging from 60°F to 80°F, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the beautiful coastlines, forests, and lakes. However, if you prefer fewer crowds and slightly cooler temperatures, the shoulder seasons of late spring (May) and early fall (September and October) can also be a great time to camp in Oregon. Keep in mind that the Oregon coast can be cooler and more prone to fog and rain, so it's essential to pack appropriate clothing and gear. Check out some of the best camping spots in Oregon at Hipcamp.
No, it is not legal to camp anywhere in Oregon. Camping is allowed in designated campgrounds, state parks, national forests, and on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Some private landowners also offer camping opportunities through platforms like Hipcamp. It is important to follow local regulations and respect private property when camping in Oregon. Always check for specific rules and restrictions for the area you plan to camp in.
Yes, there is free camping in Oregon, particularly in national forests and on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Dispersed camping is allowed in these areas, but keep in mind that amenities are limited or nonexistent. Some popular locations for free camping in Oregon include:
When camping for free, remember to practice Leave No Trace principles and be prepared to pack out all trash and waste. Always check the specific rules and regulations for the area you plan to camp in, as some locations may require permits or have restrictions in place.
Oregon offers a variety of beautiful camping spots for a weekend getaway. Here are a few options for you to consider:
Remember to check availability and any reservation requirements before heading out, as some campgrounds may be seasonal or require advanced booking.
While not all campgrounds in Oregon require reservations, it is highly recommended to make reservations for popular campgrounds and during peak seasons. Many campgrounds in Oregon state parks, national forests, and other public lands can fill up quickly, especially during weekends and holidays. You can find information about campgrounds and make reservations through the Hipcamp website, as well as through the Oregon State Parks reservation system. Some primitive and dispersed camping areas may not require reservations, but it's always a good idea to check ahead of time.