Camping in the Columbia River Gorge

Calling all waterfall chasers—the gorge is bursting with campsites and miles of scenic trails.

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Camping in the Columbia River Gorge guide

Overview

Just an hour's drive from Portland, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is the biggest in the country. Among its many campgrounds is Eagle Creek, the first forest service campground in the USA.

Outside the national and state parks, you also find dozens of private campgrounds and RV parks on both sides of the gorge. Pitch a tent by a fishing lake, along a wild river, or amid a pine forest. If you're looking for solitude, backpacking is also allowed on more than 30 trails across the gorge.

You need at least a few days to see the region's famous sights. Multnomah Falls is the most iconic cascade in the area, roaring at 620 feet. At Beacon Rock State Park, you can gawk up at Beacon Rock. The towering outcrop is one of the most distinctive features of the Columbia Gorge.

The Mt. Hood area is your go-to spot for hiking trails, and the snow-capped peak even offers downhill skiing in the SUMMER! Along the Hood River, water sports enthusiasts get stoked for world-class windsurfing. Between adventures, be sure to grab a drink at one of the region's craft breweries or wineries.

However you choose to enjoy the gorge, remember to pack your rain gear—the region is famous for its daily drizzle. Since most campgrounds are situated near railways and the interstate, you may also want to bring earplugs.

Keep in mind there's no bad time to visit the Columbia River Gorge. July and August are the height of the tourist season, but they also boast the smallest chance of rain. For the most spectacular wildflowers, shoot for April through June. Of course, a fall camping trip puts you at the forefront of Hood River Valley harvests and stunning fall colors.

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