Home to more than 275 parks and 14,000 acres (5,666 ha) of green space, Portland offers plenty of natural escapes within city limits. But to truly appreciate the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, spend a memorable night under the stars at any of these scenic campsites, all located within an easy drive from the city.
Oxbow Regional Park
There’s no better place to play on a hot summer day than the cool, clear waters of the federally designated Wild & Scenic Sandy River. Located 25 miles (40 km) east of downtown Portland, Oxbow Regional Park is an oasis for swimmers, kayakers, rafters and floaters. Reserve one of 57 drive-up tent campsites or 10 RV sites, all of which are equipped with cooking grills and picnic tables. Time a trip for the fall when the waters are rich with runs of spawning salmon. (Note: dogs and other pets are not allowed at this park, as they can damage the sensitive habitat.)
Gresham, an east Portland suburb, offers a bevy of bike-friendly businesses and stellar views of Mount Hood.
The small logging town of Vernonia has become a central hub for bike routes through the surrounding state forest.
These four waterways — all less than an hour away from Portland — provide the perfect setting for your next fish tale.
L.L. Stub Stewart State Park
Nestled in the foothills of the Northern Oregon Coast Range, just 34 miles (55 km) west of Portland, L.L. Stub Stewart State Park provides an easy overnight nature escape. A network of trails leads hikers and bikers through rolling hills, wildflower meadows and forest glens; don’t miss the Banks-Vernonia Trail, a paved 21-mile (34 km) multi-use path featuring gleaming streams and historic wooden bridges. Overnight guests can take their pick of 78 spots ranging from primitive campsites and full RV hook-ups to Mountain Dale Cabin Village, which offers one- and two-room cabins with shared access to hot showers and flush toilets.
Located 60 miles (97 km) east of Portland in Mt. Hood National Forest, Trillium Lake is a tranquil retreat offering incredible views of the mountain’s snowy summit. The area’s namesake lake is a favorite of local anglers, thanks to a population of hungry trout. Mountain bikers love the single-track Trillium Bike Trail, which gracefully circles the picturesque lake — and also connects thirsty cyclists to pizza and pints in nearby Government Camp. Trillium’s proximity to Portland means campsites go fast, but visitors can reserve one of 57 tent and RV spots online to guarantee a perfect weekend.
Lost Lake Campground
The woodsy, wheelchair-accessible resort, Lost Lake Resort & Campground, encircles a classic alpine lake perched 3,000 feet (914 m) up the flanks of Mount Hood and 76 miles (122 km) from Portland. In addition to 148 campsites, Lost Lake’s grounds include comfortable lodge rooms complete with king beds and kitchenettes. Drop into the resort store to rent canoes, fishing boats and stand-up paddleboards, and attend scheduled activities like telescope-assisted stargazing and live music.
Beacon Rock State Park
A 42-mile (68 km) trip across the Washington state line and to the east brings adventurers to Beacon Rock State Park, a 5,100-acre (2,063 ha) park with 26 tent spaces in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The park’s signature attraction — the monolithic Beacon Rock — juts 840 feet (256 m) above the river and features a steep, mile-long (1.6 km) trail blasted out of the rock and leading to panoramic views of the gorge.
Cape Lookout State Park
Situated on a sand spit between the Pacific Ocean and Netarts Bay, Cape Lookout State Park provides unparalleled beach access and ocean views 85 miles (137 km) west of Portland. Hike the 2.4-mile (3.9 km) Cape Trail, which boasts one of the best whale-watching spots on the coast, or follow the 1.8-mile (2.9 km) South Trail down to a secluded stretch of sand set beneath the cape. No tent? No problem — family-friendly yurts and deluxe cabins provide cozy overnight options.
Yurt Camping Near Portland
You can find yurts -a semi-permanent round tent- at dozens of Oregon State Parks, including several within 100 miles (161 km) of Portland. Many of these modern yurts come complete with locking doors, electrical outlets, heating, wooden floors and skylights and windows. These yurts are available year-round for a small fee and can be reserved online. All yurts come with an outdoor fire pit for s’more-filled evenings (and some are even pet-friendly).
Champoeg State Park
History, nature and recreation merge seamlessly at Champoeg State Heritage Area. Located 40 minutes south of Portland, the park marks the location where Oregon’s first provisional government formed in 1843. It’s not all facts and dates around here. However, the site is set on the picturesque banks of the Willamette River and offers acres of forests, fields and wetlands. Champoeg’s location also means easy access to nearby wineries, where you can stock up on prime bottles to enjoy fireside. Choose between 6 rustic yurts furnished with a bunk bed and futon couch (three are pet-friendly).
Fort Stevens State Park
For 84 years, from the Civil War through World War II, Fort Stevens State Park was an active military base. Today it’s a 4,300-acre (1,740-hectare) park situated two hours northwest of Portland at the mouth of the Columbia River. Its diverse natural habitats and spectacles include forests, wetlands, dunes, a military museum and the haunting Peter Iredale shipwreck. In the summer, you can also swim in freshwater Coffenbury Lake and tour the WWII gun battery. Explore these sites by foot or bicycle along the park’s 6 miles (10 km) of hiking trails and 9 winding miles (14 km) of paved paths. A total of 15 rustic yurts (each sleeping up to five people) are available (including one animal-friendly dwelling).
Nehalem Bay State Park
This lovely campground is located on a 4-mile (6.5 km) sand spit between Cannon Beach and Tillamook. From wildlife and frosted pines to undulating beach dunes, there’s plenty to see and do at Nehalem Bay State Park. When not snuggling up in the yurt, pass the time crabbing, clam digging and admiring driftwood on sandy strolls. And don’t miss the 1.8 mile-long (3 km) bike path with great views of the bay. Choose from 18 yurts, including two pet-friendly options.
Beverly Beach State Park
Located 2.5 hours southwest of Portland, the forested campground at Beverly Beach State Park is set back from the coastline and sandwiched between Yaquina Head and Otter Rock. Lighthouse viewing, beach combing, whale watching and tide pool exploring are easily accessible from the doorway of your yurt. Head 1.5 miles (2.5 km) north to marvel at Devil’s Punchbowl, a naturally carved bowl in the headland that fills with crashing Pacific Ocean waves. A total of 21 yurts are up for grabs, including two pet-friendly dwellings.
Get the full Oregon Coast experience with chilly Northwest surfing, tide pool viewing and a warm cup of clam chowder.
There may not be a sea breeze in the City of Roses, but with two popular beach towns just 90 minutes away, it’s easy to take a day trip to the Oregon Coast from Portland.
Up to 20,000 gray whales migrate along Oregon's coast every winter and spring — this handy guide to whale watching on the Oregon Coast covers prime spots to see migrating whales, top whale-watching charters, when to go and more.
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