The arrival of summer in the Pacific Northwest means the possibility of sunshine, warmth, and camping! I am always excited about going camping and we try to go as much as possible during the summer. I find that camping helps relax me and I am able to unwind from the stressful work week. Camping also means that I get to do some of the activities that I really enjoy such as reading a few chapters of a good book, fishing, hiking, and kayaking. It also gives me the excuse to splurge with foods I normally do not eat; chili dogs and smore’s are always on our list of foods to take. Since I love camping I thought I might share some of my favorite camping spots in Oregon.
Clear Lake campground
Without a doubt, Jason and I would agree that Clear Lake is our favorite place to camp. Clear lake is a man made lake located on Mount Hood just off Highway 26 about 10 miles east of Government Camp. It is a relatively quick drive from Portland which makes it an easy weekend trip. What draws me to this campground is the lake and the nice camping sites. The campground is primitive and small, only has pit toilets and hand pump for water, no power or showers here, and rarely is a big RV seen in the campground due to the lack of amenities. There are only 22 sites in the campground and all are large with space for multiple tents and room to spread out, which is hard to find at most other Oregon campgrounds. Several of the sites are right on the lake giving easy access to fishing and boating. My favorite site is campsite #10 as it has some big trees for shade and it is right on the lake. Motor boats are allowed, but there is a speed limit of 10 mile per hour which helps keep the noise and wake down. Clear lake is perfect for kayaks, canoes, and small sailing boats due to the lack of larger powerboats. The lake is stocked each year with trout and has good fishing especially early in the year. We have found that the fish love Power Bait. One weekend, we pulled out 22 trout. Fortunately for us, our neighbors agreed to take several of trout off our hands. If you get bored hanging out in the campground, fishing and kayaking, there are several great hikes nearby. If you are looking for a place to relax and unwind Clear Lake is the place to stay.
Frog Lake is also located on Mount Hood just off of highway 26. It is a quick drive from Portland and so makes it an easy weekend trip. Frog Lake unlike Clear Lake is a natural lake. Though the lake itself is small and not the best for boats(no motor boats are allowed), it is great for swimming and wading in the water. The campground is primitive and small with 23 sites. There are pit toilets and hand pump for water. There is no power or shower here either. Like Clear Lake, the sites are large and several sit right on the lake. I never understood why it was called Frog Lake until several years ago we happened to go camping just at the right time and from a distance the shallow water looked black. Stepping closer, we realized that there were literally thousands of tadpoles in the water. We came back later that year and could hear the frogs ribbiting everywhere. Sydney had a blast catching the frogs. She named one of them Jumpy, but unfortunately for her, we made her release jumpy back into the wild before heading home. Frog Lake also has a phenomenal view of Mount Hood and if the water is calm a mirror image of Mount Hood will reflect back. If you get bored hanging out in the campground and swimming, you can hike part of the Pacific Crest trail or other hikes nearby.
Webb Park Campground in Pacific City
Warning, the reason I like this campground is not about the campground, but the location. Webb Park campground is located directly in Pacific City on the Oregon Coast. Pacific City is approximately a 2 hour drive from Portland. The camping sites are very small and open with not a lot of trees or privacy. The campsites are on top of each other and you will have very little room to pitch a tent. Pacific city is known as the Dory boat capital of the world. In saying that, expect to be woken up early, like 5 am, by Dory boats being started up to get ready to beach launch with the tide for a day of fishing. There are showers, but be prepared to pay. Like I said it is not about the campground but the location. The campground is right across the street from the ocean, Cape Kiwanda, and some of the best surfing along the Oregon coast. Cape Kiwanda is a sandstone peninsula that juts into the Pacific Ocean. If you are daring enough you can venture out on the peninsula and watch some amazing wave action. Cape Kiwanda also has a steep sand dune. It is challenging to climb, guaranteed to give your heart a good work out. Each time I climb up the sand dune, I always wonder why I am doing this, but once I make it to the top I realize the pain was all worth it. The view is phenomenal and running down the dune is a rush. After a day of playing on the beach and climbing Cape Kiwanda, there is a great restaurant called the Pelican Brew Pub right on the beach. The Pelican brews its own beer and has some excellent tasting beers. My personal favorite is the MacPelican Scottish ale. Be prepared though, the beers and food is on the spendy side. If you asked Sydney what she likes best about Web County Campground, it would be the bunnies. Someone at some point released some bunnies and they have now multiplied, well, like bunnies. There are lots of these cute little furry things. Sydney likes trying to get the bunnies to eat out of her hand.
Fort Stevens is also located on the Oregon coast just outside of Astoria. It is about a 2 hour drive from Portland. Fort Stevens is a typical state campground. It is large, has power, hot showers and flushing toilets. The campsites are small with not a lot of room to pitch a tent, but great for RV’s. This campground is also about the location not about the campground. Fort Stevens was originally established to protect the mouth of the Columbia River and was an active fort from the time of the Civil War to the end of WWII. The park now encompasses 4,200 acres consisting of beach access, a lake, WWII military bunkers, and many miles of biking and walking trials. The mouth of the Columbia River is treacherous for boats to navigate, hence the name “Graveyard of the Pacific.” On the beach, there is the skeleton remains of the shipwreck, Peter Iredale, which ran aground in 1906. When the tide is out you can climb on the skeleton frame. Throughout the park are scattered military bunkers that can be explored. Playing sardines (hide and seek with a twist) at night in the bunkers is always fun. Several times during the year, civil war reenactments occur and can be fun to watch. Once you tire of military bunkers and beach, there is always the option for biking and walking along the many miles of paved paths through the forest. If you are not interested in tent camping, Fort Stevens also has the option of Yurts. But be prepared, reservations are a must and reservations for summer should be made far in advance.
Silver Falls Campground
This is also a typical state campground. There are lots of amenities including a restaurant, power, hot showers and a play ground. There are lots of campsites, but the sites are tiny. There is not much room to pitch a tent. What draws me to this campground is the hiking. Silver falls has miles of hiking trails in which you can view a total of 10 waterfalls. Falls range from 27 feet to 177 feet. The hikes are good for all ages and fitness levels and you do not have to walk far to see a waterfalls. My favorite time to visit is during the fall with all the changing leaves. But on second thought, early spring is also well worth a trip with the increased flow of water going over the falls. Silver falls also has several cabins, and like Fort Stevens, reservations are a must.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this and If anyone has any other suggestions for favorite camping spots in Oregon, please do not hesitate to post. I am always interested in exploring new camping spots.