Oregon Recreation and Travel Information

Tips on Free Camping!

Take advantage of some little known places where you pay nothing.

Free camp-grounds have other benefits besides saving you money. They are usually found in peaceful and scenic settings. Some are located by a lake, or river and offer numerous recreational opportunities, such as boating, fishing, or water-skiing. Let's examine the possibilities:

National Forests: You can legally camp anywhere on national forest land. The only real problem is that much of the forest area is so dense that campground areas (official sites) are often hard to locate. Find a spot on the edge of the campground... any level spot will do! Buy a national forest map, it will show all the places you have to choose from!

Long-Term Visitor Areas: (LTVAs) This might be of interest to those of you who are lucky enough to "go South" for the winter. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) established nine LTVAs in 1983 in the California desert and along the lower Colorado River where visitors camp for the entire winter. Visitors who wish to stay in a LTVA may do so by purchasing a long-term permit for $25. and selecting a location in one of the designated areas. This permit will cover you from October 1 to May 31st. You may move from one LTVA to another without incurring additional user fees. Guests are allowed to stay with permit holders during the season at no charge.

City Parks: A lot of cities allow over-night (dry) camping in their parks. Stop in at the local Chamber of Commerce or the police station and ask if there is a free place to spend a night.

Truck Stops: Now, now, don't say yuk! Though they tend to be noisy, a truck stop can look really good to a tired camper who needs a free place to rest for the night. The advantage is that truck stops are nearly everywhere, they generally have an economical restaurant, and some have free showers.

Shopping Centers and Supermarkets: You will rarely be bothered if you park in an obscure corner of the parking lot. Ask the store manager first if possible. We have lots of friends reporting they do this on a regular basis and never have a problem.

Public Schools and Churches: Schools work well after 5p.m., and in the summer. Most churches don't mind an over-night guest if you ask permission first.

Rest Areas: In Oregon, vehicles may not park in a rest area for more than 14 hours in a 24 hour period. That's enough time to catch up on some ZZZs.

Okay... we've covered the "on-the-road" sort of places. There's a book you must have if you're serious about this free camping stuff. It's called: Don Wright's Guide To Free Campgrounds. You may write to them at : Cottage Publications, 24396 Pleasant View Dr. Elkhart, In. 46517. Or phone (219) 293-7553. This book contains a state-by-state list of free campgrounds, complete with directions and site information.

Here are some samples of the listings for Oregon:

Deschutes National Forest: Jack Creek, 2 miles North of Camp Sherman on FR 1420, then 3 miles NW on FR 1425; half mile on FR 12. Season: 4-15 to 10-15; 14 day limit. 11 sites, tables/toilets. No drinking water. Picnicking, fishing, hiking.

Park Creek - Bureau of Land Mgt.: 24 miles E of Coquille on Middle Cove Rd. Open all year; 14 day limit. Has 12 sites on 8 acres, tables, toilets, fire-rings, drinking water, dump site. Activities include picnicking, fishing, hunting, and berry picking.

Lobster Creek - Siskiyou National Forest: 4.2 miles NE of Gold Beach on CR 375, 5.6 miles NE on FR 333. Season: 4-1 to 10-31, 14 day limit. 5 sites for RVs 22 ft. or under. Tables, toilets, fire pits, piped drinking water, electricity in rest rooms. This site boasts rockhounding, fishing, boating, swimming, water-skiing, and very scenic.

How could you beat deals like these for free? Here are some addresses you may write to for more information: (in Oregon) Bureau of Land Mgt. P.O. Box 2965, Portland, Or. 97208 Dept. of Transportation / Parks & Rec. Division 525 Trade St. S.E. Salem, Or. 97310.

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