Oregon

10 Best Campgrounds Near Portland, Oregon

by Arthur McMahon

best campgrounds portland oregon

As the epicenter of the Pacific Northwest, Portland is rife with camping opportunities for everyone to enjoy.

It’s great to venture far away from civilization whenever you can, but sometimes we only have the time or means to get away from the city for a quick outdoor trip. Good thing then that Portland is surrounded by awesome outdoor escapes that are only minutes away.

From the waterfall wonderland of the Columbia River Gorge to the snow-capped heights of Mt. Hood, from the emerald hills in the west to the gushing rivers of the Willamette Valley, there are countless ways to enjoy the natural scenery that encircles the Rose City.

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite campgrounds in near Portland, many of which are a 30-minute drive from downtown, and we’ve laid out what makes them so great. If you’re looking for a weekend respite from city life or want to take the kids on a simple family camping trip, this is the list for you.

Portland’s Best Campgrounds

Most campgrounds near Portland have full RV hookups, restrooms, and other common amenities, plus they’re all minutes away from the conveniences of suburban towns and highway shopping centers. None of these campgrounds are far off the beaten path, and they’re all less than an hour’s drive from the city.

That said, these aren’t urban campsites. You don’t need to travel far from downtown to get out into the wilderness— this is Oregon after all. Check out these 10 fantastic Portland-area campgrounds, and read on to the end if you want to learn about dispersed camping in the region.

Ainsworth State Park

Ainsworth State Park Camping
Photo: gwendolen
  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: Yes

Why you should camp here: Make this your basecamp for exploring the Columbia River Gorge.

Ainsworth State Park is a popular campground that rests underneath a lush canopy of evergreen and broadleaf trees on the Historic Columbia River Highway. It’s only a minute’s drive over to Interstate 84 and where either direction will lead you toward numerous breathtaking waterfalls.

“Would definitely recommend staying here for a week or a weekend to see the beautiful falls!” Said Marge on Campendium.

The campground itself has access to several hiking trails and is adjacent to the towering Horsetail Falls which we featured in our article on the 15+ Must-See Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls. Nearby hiking attractions include the geological wonders of St. Peter’s Dome (an immense basalt monolith) and the Rock of Ages Arch.

Your campsite will be only four miles away from the pinnacle of Pacific Northwest waterfalls, Multnomah Falls. By camping so near to this beautiful place you can get there early before the crowds arrive. Portland is only 30 miles away, and the cute river town of Cascade Locks is a great, laid back place to grab a meal and enjoy the river that’s just down the road.

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Barton Park

barton park oregon
Photo: Clackamas County Parks
  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall, winter
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, Bunkhouse
  • RV hookups: Yes

Why you should camp here: Enjoy an outdoor getaway along the Clackamas River without leaving the suburbs.

Located on the bank of the Clackamas River in the unincorporated town of Barton, Barton Park is a green escape on the edge of the Portland suburbs that is ideal for a family camping trip. You can expect the day-use picnic area to be crowded on sunny weekends.

The campground and park are full of family-friendly amenities such as the playground, theater, volleyball courts, softball field, horseshoe pits, and a large picnic pavilion. Other opportunities for activity include a boat ramp, hiking trails, and miles of riverside access.

Not only is this section of the Clackamas River an excellent spot to fish and swim, but it is also a popular place to float the river on a tube or raft. Barton Park is a popular jump-off point for a short three-mile float down to Carver Park in the small town of Carver.

This is a terrific place to spend a night or two where you can spend the weekend lackadaisically casting lines while the kids keep themselves entertained.

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Champoeg State Heritage Area

Champoeg State Heritage Area
Photo: Rick Obst
  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall, winter
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, Cabins, Yurts
  • RV hookups: Yes

Why you should camp here: Spend time at this riverside retreat rich with pioneer history and local wine.

Much like the Barton Park Campground, Champoeg State Heritage Area is beautifully set along a riverbank on the out edge of Portland’s suburbs, but this one has more of an adult-oriented appeal. Museums, wineries, and farm stands are all within walking distance from the campground.

Pioneer buildings have been recreated within the park, and interpretive signage teaches visitors about local history. The Newell Pioneer Village is a historical site that is a short walk from the campground with a museum to peruse as well as a wonderfully recreated town fitted with a jail, school, and other early American buildings.

Nearby wineries and farms offer even more to explore and enjoy, but the park itself is also host to a number of engaging activities such as disc golf and numerous hiking trails with oak groves, wetlands, and riverfront to explore.

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Government Island

government island
Photo: Oregon State Parks
  • Reservations accepted: No
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall, winter
  • Campsite type: Tents
  • RV hookups: No

Why you should camp here: You’ve got a boat or want to rent one and spend the night on an otherwise inaccessible island.

That’s right! Government Island is only accessible by boat. The Government Island State Recreation Area is a series of islands where tent camping is allowed along the shoreline to all visitors. The interior, where there are more tent sites and picnic areas, requires a permit to access.

With over 15 miles of shoreline, there’s room for everyone who visits. These islands are popular with anglers, and they can be a part of a fun-filled Columbia River adventure. This unique experience is a great way to change up your typical camping routine.

Hang out on the beach and take in striking views of Mt. Hood and the cliffs of the Columbia River gorge. Despite its hard to reach location, there are multiple boat docks and restrooms available throughout the islands.

L.L. Stub Stewart State Park

ll stub stewart state park
Photo: Travis
  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall, winter
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, Cabins
  • RV hookups: Yes

Why you should camp here: 25 miles of trails to trek by foot or horse across 1800 acres.

The forested L.L. Stub Stewart State Park retreat is set amid the rolling foothills of the Oregon Coast Mountain Range has multiple campgrounds to choose from as well as a cabin village and horse campground. While there may be a lot of campers about during your stay, you’ll be able to find your own solitude if you venture out into the park’s far corners.

A big draw for the park is the two large on-site disc golf courses. There is a massive 18-hole course and a 12-hole putting course to enjoy. There are also miles of hiking trails, mountain bike trails, and many horse corrals.

Visitors praise this park for its large RV camping spots and overall cleanliness. It can be a busy place filled with families and outdoor enthusiasts throughout operating months, but the staff seems to be on top of their game.

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Oxbow Regional Park

Oxbow Regional Park Camping
  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: No

Why you should camp here: Camp within a verdant old-growth forest next to the Wild and Scenic Sandy River.

Oxbow Regional Park is a hidden gem that encapsulates the wilderness and glory of the Cascade Mountains, yet it is less than 30 miles from Downtown Portland. Here, the campground and Sandy River Gorge effervesce with wonder and seclusion.

“My favorite place to rest is along the Sandy River located at the Happy Trail area.” Said Magli G. on Trip Advisor.

Let this be your jumping-off point to outdoor adventure. The park has 12 miles of trails to traverse, and the river provides plenty of opportunities to swim, fish, or kayak.

Wildlife abounds in the area. If you have a keen eye you may be able to spot spawning salmon, wild beavers, mink, bears, deer, and birds aplenty. Metro Naturalists lead educational field trips around the park for anyone interested in learning more about the wildlife in the area.

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Paradise Point State Park

 

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall, winter
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, Yurts
  • RV hookups: Yes

Why you should camp here: A welcoming pit stop for road trippers heading north of Portland on the interstate highway.

For those needing a place to rest and spend the night north of Portland on Interstate 5, Paradise Point State Park is as good as it gets. It is located right next to the highway, but it is set in the grassland and forest that lie against the calm shores of the East Fork Lewis River.

A long sandy beach along the river’s shoreline makes for an excellent swimming area during the summer months. A disc golf course and hiking trails adorn the acreage. There are restrooms, picnic tables, and showers for all to use, and a number of yurts are available to rent.

Acres of forest provide a respite from interstate and protect the beach from the sights and sounds of the highway.

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Promontory Park

 

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Promontory Park

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  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall, winter
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, Cabins, Yomes
  • RV hookups: Yes

Why you should camp here: The luxuries of a full-featured family campground and marina are delightful.

Leave your worries behind when you go on a family camping trip to Promontory Park. This campground and marina are operated by Portland General Electric set in the forest adjacent to the North For Reservoir.

With on-site amenities galore, Promontory Park can be your one-stop vacation destination. The campground and marina are home to a grocery store, picnic areas with electric cooking facilities, fish cleaning stations, a playground, and much more. You don’t even need to bring a tent as there are cabins and yomes (yurt domes) to rent.

Most people who come to this park intend to fish. You can buy bait and tackle on location, as well as rent a boat. There’s also a kids-only fishing lake so that your little ones can join in on the fishing fun!

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Tollgate Campground

 

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tents
  • RV hookups: No

Why you should camp here: Mt. Hood is calling your name, and you must answer the call.

Set just outside the sleepy little mountain village of Rhododendron, Tollgate Campground is a fantastic place to set up camp and explore the Mt. Hood National Forest. There are outdoor activities in every direction, and the adjacent town has all of the civilized accouterments you’ll want to complement your adventures.

“This place is fantastic…the sites are in an old growth forest dominated by massive Douglas fir and, yes, rhododendrons.” Says The Muddy Camper.

Multiple long-distance trails leave directly from the campground, one being the Pioneer Bridle Trail which has a recreated tollgate that pioneers on the Oregon Trail had to stop at and pay a toll in order to head toward their Willamette Valley destination. We detailed this Barlow Road section of the trail in our article Hike Through History on These Stretches of The Oregon Trail.

There are hundreds of miles of trails to explore in the area as well as the historic Timberline Lodge, ski resorts, Mount Hood Skibowl adventure park, and so much more.

Reserve Now

Viento State Park Campground

Viento State Park Campground
Photo: David Fulmer
  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: Yes

Why you should camp here: You want a modern campground that’s on the Columbia River and close to Mt. Hood.

Viento State Park Campground is conveniently located in the Columbia River Gorge near the popular tourist town of Hood River where highway 35 takes travelers up the ‘back way’ to Mt. Hood. It’s a great spot for travelers who want to see it all.

This campground is much further up the gorge than other spots we listed, yet it is still surrounded by cascading waterfalls and miles upon miles of hiking trails. Washington is just over the bridge at Hood River, and windsurfing is a popular eye-catching sport in the area.

Viento is Spanish for wind, and so you can expect this place to be a bit gusty. The campsites are fairly protected in the forest along the shore, but the historic, and active, Columbia River Gorge rail line passes right by the campground as well. Though this is a clean campground surrounded by beauty and convenience, it can be a bit noisy.

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Portland’s Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is camping on public lands away from developed recreational facilities. Oregon allows dispersed camping in all of its state forests.

Portland-area backpackers and car campers are welcome to find dispersed camping spots at Clatsop State Forest, Tillamook State Forest, and Mt. Hood National Forest. These three forests have many awesome camping spots hidden away in their nooks and crannies.

Most dispersed camping spots are located far down rutted forest service roads and miles away from any trailhead. You’ll have to do your due diligence in finding them, and the state asks that you used flat, already established tent sites rather than create your own.

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