The open road. It's something that I absolutely love. Stop when you want, hang out at places as long as you want and camp under the stars. Oregon has some of the best free camping possibilities in the United States. While most people highlight the most beautiful places, or places that you need an off road capable vehicles, this article is going to highlight more functional places to stay. What if you just need one or two nights and want to be close to a specific area or attraction? We will help you find a spot!
We mostly focus on the remote places, where you will not see another soul, or are surrounded by trees. But sometimes, we like being in small towns or where it may be a little more crowded. We still want to find free and comfortable though. Or if Kevin wants to leave our door and head right onto a mountain biking trail. Sometimes we are driving and just need a spot for the night. There are definitely functional places to stay.
Boondocking 101. Just some quick advice and tips. (1) Always stay in a place you feel comfortable. (2) Check out apps to find where people have stayed before. If you don't have travel apps, find the closest national forest (NF) or BLM land. Be aware though that not all NF or BLM roads are maintained. (3) Know the time limits for each, which can be found on their individual websites, but it is normally 1-14 days. (4) Leave no trace. Aside from that it takes time and experience to get comfortable with it.
Free Camping in Oregon
Driving along Highway 84 can sometimes feel like the longest stretch in Oregon. If you need a place to stay, many of the turnoffs right along the river have free camping for 1-3 nights. This will allow you to explore the entire north coast. From waterfalls, small towns and the river.
National Forest and Sno Parks
Mt. Hood National Forest is known for having the only mountain that has a ski lift running all year round for skiing. This makes it popular in every season. Did you know that you can stay at the sno parks overnight? This make it convenient and easy for the ski bum, weekender or roadtripper that is trying to stay on budget.
Central Oregon has become incredibly popular for the outdoor enthusiast. Some of the best mountain biking in the state is in Bend. Did you know that you can stay right in the middle of the most popular trails that are only about 3 miles from downtown? Phil's trail system is popular amount tourists and locals. Bike in, bike out and stay awhile. Sisters has some of the best hiking trails in the area and some amazing spots along the river to cool down on a hot day or after a long hike or ride.
Crater Lake National Park and National Monument Camping
Crater Lake National Park is Oregon's only national park and it is surrounded by Umpqua National Forest. If you remember from Boondocking 101, you can find a lot of free camping on NF roads. When you zoom in on the map you will see NF-#. That usually indicates that you can pull off on the side of the road for free for a few nights. Since you can't stay within the national park for free, this is a great option for people on road trips. You also may find a quieter spot than the busy park.
John Day Fossils Bed National Monument is a great example of an amazing place to explore, but you can't camp within the national monument. Explore the national forest roads or BLM land close by.
If you want to get an early start to a hike, many trailheads will allow overnight camping. Especially if they are the beginning of a multi day trail. We like to do this when we head out on 20+mile hikes. We know we will get a spot, we can start very early in the morning and then our van is there waiting with a cold drink when we get done 8 hours later. However, do make sure to check that trail's website through the national forest that it is in. These rules are different depending on where you are.