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10 Best Portland Camping Spots

Whether you prefer pitching a tent by a tranquil river or staying in a full-service RV park, these top ten Portland campsites offer something unique for all types of campers.
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The best camping spots near Portland are perfect for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest while still being close to the city's cultural attractions. Whether you prefer pitching a tent by a tranquil river or staying in a full-service RV park, these top ten Portland campsites offer something unique for all types of campers. They're organized by distance, with those closest to Portland's downtown appearing first on the list. Choose the one that suits you best based on your preferences and the distance you're willing to travel.

1) Government Island State Recreation Area

Distance from Portland: 16 miles

portland camping government island and bridge

If you’re looking for a unique camping experience, the 1,760-acre Government Island State Park offers a private island campground that guarantees a one-of-a-kind adventure. Situated amid the Columbia River, Government Island is a short drive from the heart of Portland. The island is only accessible by boat, which adds an element of adventure and seclusion that’s difficult to find in today's fast-paced world. The island is home to diverse wildlife and offers camping facilities in selected areas with basic amenities. Other activities include swimming, hiking, and fishing.

2) Oxbow Regional Park

Distance from Portland: 25 miles

camping portland shallow lake with pebbles and evergreens

Oxbow Regional Park is an excellent Portland camping site within a 40-minute drive from the downtown area. You’ll need a hiking permit to explore the island’s 12 miles of trails and old-growth forest, with opportunities to explore the calm waters of Sandy River on a kayak. The park has drive-up campsites, fire pits, picnic tables, restrooms, and free showers. Although it’s mainly an RV park, it also provides pull-through sites for those traveling in homes on wheels. The parking fees for this park range from $5 to $7 per vehicle, and annual parking passes are available for $40.

3) Stub Stewart State Park

Distance from Portland: 33 miles

portland camping valley view with pink sky

L. “Stub” Stewart State Park is located off Highway 26 near Buxton, about 40 minutes northwest of Downtown Portland when traveling by car. Situated in Oregon’s Coast Range, it’s a great spot for hikers, cyclists, and horse riders seeking scenic trails, lush green forests, and tranquil camping grounds. The Banks-Vernonia State Trail, which cuts through the park, is perfect for hikers and bikers. The park has 30 miles of trails, golf courses, and an expansive off-leash dog run. It’s also great for stargazing on clear nights, with camping available year-round. You can choose between tent camping, cabin camping, or RV sites. One option is to book a cabin at the Mountain Dale Cabin Village, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the Coast Range.

4) Beacon Rock State Park

Distance from Portland: 42 miles

camping portland beacon rock with evergreen

Beacon Rock State Park is a 4,458-acre camping park in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It's open year-round for camping and includes 9,500 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Columbia River. As one of the best places to camp near Portland, it features more than 26 miles of roads and trails open to hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding. The main challenge, however, is the 848-foot climb up Beacon Rock’s northwest face, which spans roughly one mile. Alternatively, a steep hike up to the top of the rock rewards you with a stunning panorama of the Columbia River Gorge.

5) Beaver Campground

Distance from Portland: 62 miles

portland camping fall scene yellow leaves and picnic table

Beaver Campground is a peaceful retreat approximately 60 miles northeast of Portland, near the Wind River. The campground is situated amid the mature maples and sycamores of Gifford Pinchot National Forest and offers a variety of tent and RV sites. Anglers can enjoy fishing in the Wind River, while other recreational activities are plentiful. Visitors can enjoy fun for all ages with on-site playground equipment and horseshoe games, surrounded by a forest full of unique plant and animal species. In addition, miles of hiking trails enable campers to explore the lush forest and appreciate its natural beauty. The campground is only open seasonally and closes during the winter months. Online reservations are available for single, double, and group sites ranging in price from $24 to $125.

6) Lost Lake

Distance from Portland: 75 miles

camping portland lake evergreens and snowcapped mountain

Lost Lake Resort and Campground is located near the heart of Mt. Hood, approximately 90 miles from Portland's center. It has 148 campsites, a public boat launch, an accessible fishing dock, and numerous trails. Several sites in the D loop accommodate 40′ RVs. The campsites are nestled at an elevation of 3,200 feet, hugging the crystal-clear waters of Lost Lake and offering breathtaking views of Mt. Hood. The serene lake creates a gorgeous backdrop, showcasing the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Another main attraction is the old-growth boardwalk, an interpretive trail that meanders through one of Oregon's large old-growth stands. Additional activities range from hiking and paddleboarding to fishing and wildlife viewing.

7) Timothy Lake

Distance from Portland: 80 miles

portland camping reflective lake and evergreens

Timothy Lake is nestled in Mount Hood National Forest at an elevation of 3,200 feet. The best time to visit the lake is during the warmer summer months, typically between July and August. Camping is a popular summertime activity. Outdoor adventurers can choose over ten campgrounds and enjoy awe-inspiring views of Mount Hood. It’s an excellent option for almost any type of camper, from horse and car camping to hike-in-only camping. Like many other campgrounds in Oregon, Timothy Lake has changed its first-come, first-served policy to a reservation-based system. So, if you plan on visiting this fantastic Portland camping spot, especially on busy weekends, it's best to reserve online.

8) Cape Lookout State Park

Distance from Portland: 83 miles

camping portland scenic coastline with mountains

Cape Lookout State Park is a gorgeous campground on the northern Oregon Coast near Tillamook, which is known for its cheese! This full-service campground is located right on the beach and offers 35 full-hookup sites, over 170 tent sites, 13 yurts, and six deluxe cabins. By camping here, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy long strolls on the beach, fly kites, and watch peaceful sunsets. As a state park, Cape Lookout offers hot showers, restrooms, firewood for sale, and the Junior Ranger program. It's essential to reserve a spot well in advance. In fact, some happy campers book as early as one year before their visit.

9) Nehalem Bay State Park

Distance from Portland: 85 miles

portland camping wood-beam park entrance trees

Nehalem Bay State Park is a year-round campground located on a 4-mile sand spit between the ocean and the bay. The park offers outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, crabbing, and clamming. You can also take a scenic bike ride along a forested path, which provides a sweeping view of the bay. Additionally, two day-use areas offer access to the bay or ocean. The campground accepts reservations up to six months in advance. If you plan to visit between November 1 and April 30, you can choose from the first-come, first-served D, E and F loops.

10) Detroit Lake State Recreation Area

Distance from Portland: 93 miles

camping portland suspension bridge over lake

Detroit Lake State Recreation Area is last on our list of the best camping spots near Portland. It's located off Santiam Highway, around 50 miles east of Salem, OR. If you're driving from Portland, it'll take you about 90 minutes to reach it. The recreation area is nestled in a forest-ringed canyon reservoir in the Cascade Mountains and offers nearly 300 camping sites. The lake is nine miles long and is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other water sports. From the campground, you can enjoy views of snow-capped Mt. Jefferson in the distance. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy, including horseshoe pits, a basketball court, a volleyball area, and a playground. Additionally, there are two courtesy boat ramps, two reservable boat moorages, and a fishing dock.

Key Camping Tips

Proper preparation is the key to a successful camping trip. To help you prepare, the Gravel Team created the ultimate camping packing list, complete with a downloadable PDF you can check off as you acquire the essential items.

Remember to plan your Portland camping adventure ahead to ensure everything goes smoothly. This includes selecting the right tent and setting up a camp kitchen. Keeping a well-stocked first aid kit on hand and prioritizing safety are also crucial. Consider all the necessary tools for managing the campsite, including rain covers, fire management equipment, and cleaning supplies. Finally, being mindful of proper campground etiquette can help ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Travel Gear for Your Next Camping Trip

Suppose you need premium travel gear to complement your camping trip in the Portland area and beyond. Why not browse our thoughtfully designed collectionAt Gravel, we offer a range of travel goodies to help you have the best Portland camping experience possible. From toiletry bags to travel blankets, our gear is carefully designed to be durable, lightweight, and easy to use so you can focus on enjoying your adventure worry-free.

For more travel tips and hacks, explore our YouTube channel and check out the rest of our blog.

Happy camping!🏕️🌲🥾🔥🔦🌄✨

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