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When it comes to camping you simply can’t beat FREE!!! But often times it is hard to find a good campsite which is close to some of the larger National Parks that is not overrun with people.
When I visited the Crater Lake area, I was well aware that finding last minute accommodations was difficult to impossible. Hotels in the area charge high premiums and depending on when you visit the campground is typically booked well in advance or even closed due to weather. It just so happened that I arrived late in the season, campground was already closed and I was wondering just what else would be out there for me as a tent/car camper.
I found a small forest road, FR960 and took my chances driving down a few hundred yards before realizing that there were a few established campaigns for dispersed camping. My signal with AT&T was sparse so finding this site was strictly by chance(the Dyrt hadn’t yet released their offline PRO Version just yet).
Driving down the road it was gravel and had a few small ruts here and there but nothing so serious I couldn’t make it down the path taking it at a slower pace. I discovered a small pull out right at the beginning of the roadway which looked to be about the size of a small RV, very level and established with a fire ring. As I continued onward a small campground road spurred off to the right with what looked to be several sites alongside it as well. I opted to keep going as there were already a couple people there and the beauty of forest camping is that you don’t have to be right on top of your neighbors unless you want to.
Further down the road pull offs to both the right and left with spaces perfect for large rigs and smaller ones as well. The one on the left seemed to be calling my name as I noticed it was almost a cove of trees which would serve as a great protectant and blockade to the crisp night winds which I knew were coming this time of year. I settled in and explored the remainder of the camp on foot including a small climb which went to a few spaces with amazing views of the peaks above but looked pretty exposed due to new growth trees and low laying shrubs being the only vegetation. Sure this looked beautiful but I knew it would be cold!!
After settling in for the night in my site I was able to cook dinner on my camp stove and cozy down. Due to the winds getting a bit high I was a little hesitant to use the established fire ring because this area in particular is very prone to forest fires, something which can be seen quickly driving through camp with residual charring and many new growth trees in place of old forest.
By dawn, ice lined my windows of my car and snow capped the distant peak, the one which I would have been camping by had I have stayed up at the higher elevation campsite. But there was a sense of quiet which is unmatched by the commercial campgrounds in the area where you will find slamming doors and the sound of people moving around to get their day started. Though many were nestled into the campsites in various cubbies and enjoying their time at the forest camp, the feeling of solitude was still abundant.
There were no frills with this campground other than the location itself. No restrooms, no running water, nothing!! You as a camper have to plan if you are visiting this location and be able to be off grid safely and responsibly. If you are choosing to stay here remember the Leave No Trace principles and make sure you fully extinguish your fires.
The campground itself is only a few miles away from the northern most entry of Crater Lake. No reservations are accepted and no supplies are available without driving in to the neighboring communities of Crescent or Chemult.
There are several campgrounds in the North Umpqua area that make excellent base camps from which to explore. Island campground is centrally located smack in the middle of Highway 138 which hosts a plethora of uproarious waterfalls. The campground is directly on the North Umpqua River and has pit toilets serviced year round. There is a $10 fee per night and bringing backup toilet paper of your own is highly recommended in the off season. Highway noise can be heard from the campground but the close proximity makes it easy to drive off and explore the area.
We loved the Glamping tents, new and beautifully appointed, the facilities were well kept and sparkling clean. The bathrooms were clean and newly updated. We will be back.
Free and beautiful! Great spot near Crater Lake National Park. Head down the hill to more remote tent sites.
This is a great campground if you're looking for something right off the road. We were able to snag a reservation here for labor day this summer, and it was a perfect place for us. The site we stayed at was just up the hill from the water, there were few other campers around us, and the site was well maintained. The only downside, and probably the reason we were able to grab a spot so close to labor day weekend, is that this site is almost directly next to the highway. The traffic noise wasn't horrible, but it definitely detracted from the outdoorsy experience. I'd still recommend this site because of how beautiful the water is, and if you walk just like 5-10 minutes towards the water you'll forget the road is even there!
Though not free like the dispersed camping the dog and I were doing the days before this, it was a treat to have warm showers, bathrooms, a fenced dog exercise area, the security of other campers, and a picnic table to cook on. I stayed in a more "isolated" campsite with a tree screen from the other sites, because my dog is very protective. But it looked like there were great view sites further in the campgrounds, for those who don't need the privacy. There was easy river access from the camp and you can hear the coyotes yipping in the morning.
Me and my daughter did some tent camping here in August.
We got massive space in the trees overlooking the lake, quite private.
Some of the larger spaces are quite open for tents, but everyone seemed to be having a great time.
Great family camp ground. and near the town of Shady Cove for groceries. And not far to Crater Lake.