Bend is often called a paradise for any avid adventurer or lover of the outdoors, and the reasons are simple. Bend has incredible weather, boasting plenty of sunny days throughout the year, making camping in Central Oregon more enjoyable. Visitors and locals alike love to spend their time in amongst the many mountains, forests, lakes and rivers before resting their heads under the stars. Read on for some of the best camping around Bend and Central Oregon.
Best Bend, Oregon Campgrounds
Part of Elk Lake Resort, the Elk Lake Campground sits right on the banks of Elk Lake. This campground offers visitors access to the water for boating and swimming, along with access to miles of trails for hiking and biking with views of nearby mountain peaks. The resort features a restaurant for any day you don’t feel like camp food, along with a full-service bar in their historic lodge. The campgrounds feature nineteen sites that can each be reserved ahead of time and include a fire pit, a picnic table and communal water pumps for fresh water. The campgrounds are typically under an hour’s drive from Bend, depending on the road conditions.
La Pine State Park is only 30 minutes south of Bend, and can be found on this list of state parks near Bend. The campground here is considerably larger than many others in Central Oregon, with 133 campsites and ten cabins. The Deschutes River runs right through the state park, adjacent to the campground. This campground includes a mix of reservable spots and first-come, first-served campsites. The trout-filled waters of the upper Deschutes tend to attract fishers to this campground, while the multitude of nearby hiking and biking trails bring adventurers of all kinds.
The Tumalo State Park Campground lies just about 10 minutes north of Bend, making it a perfect getaway not too far from town. This is another campground positioned around the Deschutes River, with some campsites positioned right on the banks. The entire campground includes 23 full hookup sites, 54 tent camping sites and seven yurts that are available with advanced reservations. This campground is a great base camp for nearly any outdoor activity, from enjoying the nearby hiking and biking trails to making a day trip to any of the nearby lakes or golf courses.
For a multitude of other campgrounds, consider exploring the Deschutes National Forest, which has more than 80 campgrounds to choose from. These campgrounds come in all shapes and sizes, and many of them can accommodate RV and trailer camping.
Top Areas for Tent and Dispersed Camping
Formal campgrounds can be fun, but sometimes campers really want to get away from it all and truly feel one with nature. For that, consider a weekend of boondocking, which is a term that describes dispersed camping on public lands, away from organized campgrounds.
The Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests both allow boondocking on their land. Regulations can vary, but campers are typically limited to 14 days maximum at a single campsite. To find a suitable campsite, check road conditions (U.S. Forest Service roads are not plowed or maintained during winter) and drive out to explore for yourself. It is recommended for campers to camp where someone else has already camped, and many spots like this will be visible and adjacent to roads. The less impact you make on the surrounding environment, the better.
The U.S. Forest Service offers some helpful advice for anyone looking for dispersed camping on public lands. Your campsite should be on bare soil at least 200 feet away from any natural running water. Do not camp in a clearing or meadow, because this can ruin the view for other hikers and visitors to the forest. Camping stoves are recommended whenever possible, because campfires are typically made from dead or fallen wood found in the nearby area; many animals, insects and microorganisms need this downed and rotting wood to survive. If you do end up making a campfire, try to make it in an existing fire ring, if you can find one. Clear the area of any combustible materials to avoid accidents and always remember that a fire can never be left unattended. Before packing up and heading back home, make sure your fire is completely extinguished. This means that you should be able to put your entire hand in the ashes and not get burned. Before venturing out, check with the U.S. Forest Service to learn the current level of fire danger and whether campfires are currently permitted in the area.
Top RV Parks In and around Bend
If you are looking for more of an urban experience, try one of Central Oregon’s RV parks. The Camp, one of Bend’s newer RV parks, sits where Bend’s original RV park sat in the 1950s. Back then, the location of The Camp was on the outskirts of town, but Bend has grown around the site to create a uniquely urban camping experience. Bring your own RV or trailer to The Camp or rent out one of their vintage restored trailers, each coming in a different fun style, from rustic and old fashioned to swanky and modern. Each space varies in size, but the largest can accommodate a rig nearly fifty feet long. The Camp is located just minutes from downtown Bend, the Old Mill and plenty of the best dining around.
Another great option is the Bend/Sisters Garden RV Resort. The Bend/Sisters Garden is located just southeast of Sisters down Highway 20, and is just about a 25-minute drive from Bend. Stay the night to enjoy plenty of outdoor amenities, like manicured lakes, gardens, nature trails and picnic areas. Take a dip in their heated pool and hot tub before heading back to your rig to enjoy dinner, lawn games, and complimentary cable TV and WiFi. This park is big-rig friendly (good for RVs of over 40 feet), so don’t worry about size restrictions; you’ll have plenty of room to stretch out.
The Crown Villa RV Resort is a great option to camp on the southeast end of Bend with plenty of quick and easy access to places like Tumalo Falls, the High Desert Museum, the Old Mill District and more. Crown Villa offers multiple RV hookup options, some of which are as low as about $30 per night. The RV park also features a community clubhouse, pickleball courts, hot tubs and billiards. This park can also accommodate big rigs in most of their spots, but be sure to check their availability.
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
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Top State Parks to Visit in Central Oregon
A trip to Central Oregon is usually one with ample time spent in the great outdoors. From the expansive high desert landscape to the Deschutes National Forest and all the rivers, lakes and sometimes volcanos in between, Central Oregon is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. What better way to explore the region than to take a tour of the local state parks? To get started, check out these six state parks to get an idea of what Central Oregon is all about.
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