The Lesser-Known, FREE Camping Areas in Oregon (Spring 2024)

Whether you are free camping or boondocking, Oregon is a fantastic state for it. There are so many beautiful dispersed campsites scattered around the state that you could spend an entire summer just exploring.

Some of the most popular free campsites are usually near or by the rivers. They tend to be very secluded as only those who are willing to hike or paddle can access them.

The best free camping spots listed on this page range from small and secluded sites off the grid to larger campgrounds with facilities like bathrooms, trash cans, picnic tables, fire pits, and even potable water!

Where can you camp for free in Oregon?

According to U.S. Census Bureau, almost 60% of Oregon is made up of public lands, giving campers plenty of choices when it comes to dispersed camping. The majority of campers tend to prefer the areas listed below due to a combination of their accessibility, climate, and stunning views.

  • Oregon coast. Dispersed camping is usually available outside of the state parks along the Oregon coast. Most of the sites tend to be quite remote and accessibility could be a challenge. Remember to keep your tents away from the shoreline to avoid being swept away during high tide.
  • BLM lands. Literally hundreds of campsites available with scenic views of coastal headlands, evergreen forests, high desert, rugged river canyons, sand dunes, and whitewater rivers,
  • State parks. Generally, state parks do charge a fee but certain groups such as U.S. veterans and active military personally on official leave are eligible for special camping passes.
  • Deschutes National Forest spans across more than 1.6 million acres of land in the eastern slopes of the Cascades in Central Oregon. There are plenty of camping sites starting from as low as 1,950’ in Lake Billy Chinook to the 10,358’ South Sister summit. Some of the well-known dispersed campsites include Irish-Taylor Trailhead and Jefferson Lake Trailhead.
  • Klamath National Forest is mainly located in Northern California with only 1.5% of the total area located in the Jackson Country, Oregon. The forested area is full of Douglas, red and white fir, and Jeffrey, ponderosa, and lodgepole pine.
  • Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest spans 5 counties in both California and Oregon. Most of the popular dispersed campsites are situated along the Rogue River in Oregon.
  • Umpqua National Forest is a 983,129-acre land nestled on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains. Shaped by geologic events dating back to thousands of years ago, this area is famous for its waterfalls, high mountain lakes, and river rapids.

Oak Flat Campground, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

The Oak Flat Campground is located along the Illinois River in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. This area comprises nine mountain ranges, a five-county wilderness region with two streams. There are 15 campsites here with picnic tables and fire pits available. However, there is no potable water. The area is also for small tents and trailers only.

You’ll find one of the most biodiverse ecosystems around the Siskiyou Mountains while the Rogue River is known for its high-class rapids and floating trips. Permits are required along the Wild Rogue River section, so plan ahead.

Irish-Taylor Trailhead, Deschutes National Forest

Deschutes National Forest is one of the most visited national forests in Oregon state. The 1.6 million acres of land features picturesque geological formations, mountains views, rivers, lakes and offers plenty of recreation activities for campers.

The Irish-Taylor Trailhead is 1 of the 2 popular dispersed camping sites in this area. On your way in, you will first pass Taylor Lake on your left, followed by Irish Lake on your right. This area is well-known for mosquitoes, so remember to bring your bug net and repellant with you!

Pine Mountain Campground, Deschutes National Forest

The Pine Mountain Campground is located at the summit of Pine Mountain, just 33 miles southeast of Bend. Just a walking distance away is the Pine Mountain Observatory, which is one of the best places to stargaze in Oregon.

There are 6 first-come, first-served campsites here where you can either pitch your tent or boondock with your RV. The maximum RV length is 30′. A vaulted toilet is available but no potable water.

Make sure you w with you for your stay.

Twin Lakes, Umpqua National Forest

The Umpqua National Forest is within southwest Oregon on the western slopes of the Cascades. The forest has three camping areas and over three dozen trail tracks. It also includes a diverse wildlife habitat in addition to its stunning waterfalls.

The Twin Lake is a secluded, primitive campsite in the North Umpqua district with a waterfront view. With its remote location, it is usually quiet even during the weekends. On your road trip there, be sure to check some of the breathtaking sights along the 172-mile long Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Way.

Three Forks Recreation Area, Umatilla National Forest

The Three Forks Recreation Area is situated along the east coast of Oregon on BLM land. The area is where the Central and North Owyhee rivers congregate. The rough road is not maintained so it’s recommended to go there by 4×4. During the rainy seasons, the road leading up here can be inaccessible, so be warned.

You’ll find five primitive camping sites here, vaulted toilets, and a boat dock. After a peaceful night, head to the river to fish, swim and sail. Be warned that ascending the canyon is not an easy task, but the effort will be worthwhile once you get there.

Tillicum Beach Campground, Siuslaw National Forest

The coastal camping site is located along the Oregon Coast Highway and just south of where the Alsea River meets the Pacific Ocean. The Tillicum beach campsite is very popular and is busy all year round.

The main attraction about Tillicum Beach Campground is its 61 beachfront campsites with a stunning sunset view over the Pacific Ocean. Each campsite has a picnic table and campfire rings. Flush bogs and drinking water are provided though there are no showers. Considering bringing body wipes with you to keep yourself clean.

Fishing, swimming, and playing on the sand are the hottest activities here.

Mineral Camp Campground, Umpqua National Forest

Mineral Camp is a small primitive campground nestled along Sharps Creek, which runs through the Douglas Fir forest. The historic Hardscrabble Grade is at the foot of Mineral Camp. It was once a resting place for miners before beginning the long, steep climb to the Bohemia Mining District, hence the name.

It is open all year round and only has three campsites with fire rings, camp tables, and vault toilets. There is no potable water or waste disposal.

Mount Ashland Campground, Klamath National Forest

Located along the Siskiyou Crest, the Mount Ashland campground sits at a higher elevation of 6,000 feet with spectacular views of the Pacific Crest Trail. You can easily access PCT for a day hike from here too.

This area is famous for plenty of bird watching opportunities, butterflies, and wildflowers. There are vaulted toilets, but no potable water nor garage disposal services. You will need to pack bring out what you brought in. Dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash.

Things to know about dispersed camping in Oregon

  • Availability. Some campsites can be closed during the winter months, or for other reasons such as repair, renovations, fire hazards, or during COVID-19. Check the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) websites before you leave.
  • Campsite fee. The majority of the sites are free of charge since they are on public lands.
  • Maximum stay duration. 14 days, unless mentioned otherwise.
  • Amenities. Most sites do not have any amenities. Some sites do have vaulted toilets, tables, and fire rings.
  • Waste disposal. Pack it out and bring it home.
  • Using fire. Always check the USFS website to determine if you need a permit.

Amanda Williams

Amanda Williams is a writer, plant-nerd, and outdoor enthusiast. She has traveled extensively, around the U.S., throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Everywhere she treks, she takes time to enjoy the outdoors. John Muir is her hero. She aspires to inspire people to live better as he did.

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