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.
Near the City
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.
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 habititat.)
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
This woodsy, wheelchair-accessible resort 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.
Columbia River Gorge
Beacon Rock State Park
A 42-mile (68 km) trip across the Washington state line and to the east brings adventurers to Beacon Rock, 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.
Where Oregon meets the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find rocky vistas, mile upon mile of public beaches, artistic enclaves, working fishing towns, family attractions, microbrews, seafood and, yes, even surfing.
Starting just 30 miles east of Portland, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area offers amazing vistas, trails and more than 90 waterfalls.
Mount Hood offers scenic recreation ranging from camping, hiking and fishing to nearly year-round skiing.