in Camping / by
Isn’t it funny how cool weather can make your urge to camp even stronger? With fall in full swing, all we want to do is put away our laptops and get outside before winter is upon us.
Fall camping does need some extra prep, like cold-weather camping gear for you and your dog. You’ll also want to find a camp spot not too far from the city, so you can spend less time driving and more time playing during limited daylight hours.
Camping within 2 hours of the city doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice any of the wonders of the great outdoors — especially when you’re in a beautiful state like Oregon.
With 3 different wildfires still devastating different areas around Portland, you may have erased camping from your to-do list this year. But we found campgrounds that not only have great ratings, but are safely distanced from the fires and smoke.
We’ve rounded up 5 of the best Oregon campgrounds within a 2 hours’ drive from Portland, so you can get outside faster this fall, and stay longer.
1. Crescent Lake Campground
Drive Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
If your motto is “work hard, play hard,” this might be the best Oregon camp spot for you. Venture into Deschutes National Forest and plant yourself in Crescent Lake Campground — the perfect way to enjoy fresh air away from the fires.
Every campground at Crescent lake has room for one vehicle and one towed vehicle behind it, so this may be a good opportunity to try out that new boat you got.
Crescent Lake caters to both outdoor adventurers and those looking to simply rest and rejuvenate. You can swing in a hammock overlooking the sparkling lake, or explore new hiking trails every day.
While it might be too chilly to swim in the lake, the outdoor activities in the area are certainly not lacking. Bring your hiking boots and fishing poles, because the area is known to have great catches and hiking trails galore.
And for those adrenaline junkies, don’t forget your mountain bike to take in the fall foliage at breakneck speed.
Spots here go quickly, so be sure to reserve your campsite online before heading out. There’s one catch: bathroom services aren’t available after October 6th, so be prepared to rough it in that department.
By the way, going number two in the wild doesn’t have to be a big deal—read our guide on your options when nature calls while camping >
2. Jones Creek Campground
Drive time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
We have a feeling that once you camp at Jones Creek — nestled in the magical and mysterious Tillamook forest — you’ll want to make this trip an annual tradition.
Jones Creek campground is the largest and most spacious campground in the Wilson River area. It hosts 33 campsites of all different sizes, and includes vault toilets and potable water.
Whether you’re wanting to pull up with your hard shell roof top tent or rough it in a tent on the ground (but why would you?), you’re bound to find a spot to suit you.
Grab your coziest camping gear and get ready to enjoy views of Elk Mountain and Kings Mountain while you trek riverside trails. And the best part? Jones Creek is totally pet friendly, so you and your pup can enjoy every adventure together.
3. Clatsop State Park
Drive time: 1 hour 21 minutes
When you have something as fast, easy, and convenient as a Roofnest, you can set up camp in under a minute, wherever you park. What better way to enjoy the freedom of roof top tent camping than to find your very own spot in the thick of a gorgeous state forest?
Try your hand at discovering the best camping spot possible at Clatsop State Park, located just south of where the Columbia river meets the ocean.
Clastop State Forest is known as one of the stops in the journey of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Upon arrival, Clark wrote, “Today I behold the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed.”
As soon as you drive down the creekside roads, through the tall, ancient forests you’ll see exactly what he meant.
4. Saddle Mountain State Natural Area
Drive time: 1 hour 7 minutes
The diverse ecosystem of this picturesque camping area makes for a surprise at every turn — whether it’s spotting a great egret cleaning its feathers, a deer and her doe peacefully grazing, or a plant you’ve never seen before.
Other than restrooms, a trip to Saddle Mountain qualifies as primitive camping.
A haven for hikers, Saddle Mountain State Natural Area trails are recommended for experienced hikers. The main trail goes 2.5 miles and about 1,650 feet up. It ends with breathtaking views of the Cascade Mountains and Columbia River.
For those less experienced there’s the Humbug Trail with a viewpoint that can be reached within a half mile of the trailhead.
5. Willamette Mission State Park
Drive time: 45 minutes
Just 45 minutes south of Portland, right outside Salem, lies a state park that many pass by without realizing the true wonder that this park contains. Don’t be one of these people!
Set up camp this fall at Willamette Mission State Park and spend your mornings cooking breakfast in the woodlands and hiking the forested trails, the afternoons horseback riding, and the evening relaxing by the Willamette River.
Willamette also has amenities like flushing toilets and plenty of exhibit information so you can learn as you go.
Then, spend the night nice and warm, camping closer to the stars in your Roofnest roof top tent. You can even sneak in some time to clear your head while fishing or playing a leisurely game of disc golf.
Camp Year Round in a Roof Top Tent
Between wildfires and virus restrictions, it’s easy for you to feel cooped up this fall. Luckily, there are still plenty of safe places where you can have an outdoor adventure, where you can enjoy a few days to let go of stress and enjoy all that nature has to offer.
Now that you’re in the mood to camp, you might as well add a couple other places to your travel plans. We recommend heading to Washington: Seattle is just over the border, and is surrounded by plenty of new places for you to explore.
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