the dyrt
Bjorn S.
Portland, OR
Joined January 2015
Camping has been a wonder, a saving grace, an upfloater (new word alert).
Variety of Sites, 2 Distinct Halves

Lazy Bend is one of the best of the bunch of similar campsites in the area. You can often get seclusion with thick vegetation or seclusion and shade with tall trees…most sites with good river access. Just a huge variety of camping spaces, with some right off the campground road. Traffic is both a blessing and curse - this is about an hour from Portland, but right along a small freeway. Just enough away from civilization, but popular. There aren’t any good trails off the campground or within walking distance, but a lot of good ones a short drive away. Boating is the thing here - tubbing, kayaking especially - and fly fishing.

First to Review
Solitudity

Designated dispersal camping is a great idea - no loud neighbors within at least a couple wooded blocks. You get large, open circles of bare ground at Cook Creek, each with a fire ring. The 5 sites are a tad bit off the road… good. The trees, hills and water are all luxurious. There are boulders blocking the road after site 5. You can walk around them, though presumably the road is flooded out, making the other sites unreachable. Would be interesting to explore.

All-Arounder

Henry Rierson fully earns its healthy glow. Open May 15 to September 15, this is a sprawling, versatile campground with seemingly something for everyone. I loved that there were isolated patches of campsites and day use areas on both sides of the road, a spot on the gorgeous Nehalem River perfect for exploration, a friendly and responsive camp host, a lot of different sizes and layouts of campsites, and nearby hikes, like the new Spruce Run trail and the Nehalem Bay coast jaunt that gets you communing with harbor seals. Being a bit more bashful sometimes, though, I could have used a lot more trees and more distance from roads. Trucks and engines galore. Still - get in and get out there. Henry saved you a spot.

The Gateway

Agreed, the secret’s out. 80% full on the last Friday (9/14) of the season. Was featured on a TV show about 3 years ago and a popular camping book gives it a scenic rating of 10/10, though I wouldn’t go quite that high. The friendly, professional camp host told me not to write a review-“don’t do that, it’s too busy already!” So I told him I’d also write reviews of some other good campgrounds in the area, so look for-Beaver Eddy (recently closed for logging, though didn’t look like a permanent close + one roadside site was open), Cook Creek (designated dispersed sites), Henry Rierson Spruce Run (larger, more open, right off both road and Nehalem River, with good hikes right there) and Morrison Eddy (my favorite). A Tillamook State Forest Recreation Guide will show you the way. But Nehalem Falls would always work because it has the right mix of fantastic tree cover, decent vegetation between spots and being right off the small but self-important Nehalem Falls, set in a picturesque curvy rock valley replete with swimming holes. The whole Nehalem River valley is gorgeous and with minimal traffic noise.

Classic Feel, Superb Hosts

Also called Eightmile Crossing. We liked it here, so much to do and explore. We had loud neighbors addressing their kids at 10:30 PM - the dad yelling "Turn off the TV!" 8-10 times in a row, at a higher volume each time so the whole campground could know what an effective parent he was - but the camp host couple (Dean was the guy) were active and empathetic. They knew how important it is to explain the WHY of certain rules and considerations, and it was fun to hear their background to ending up here. The parents were quieter the 2nd night. The trail system throughout the area is tremendous. We did most of the Eightmile trail loop that starts in the campground. The signage indicated that one way around the circle was easy, the other more difficult, depending on the challenge you wanted. The especially cool aspect of Eightmile is that it's just on the "no rain" side of the climate divide with Portland/the coast, yet still tree-rich. Downsides were being in a sound corridor for planes landing at PDX, no significant distance between sites or between sites and the roads, and the overall typical/routine feel of the place. Bring your fun friends and/or your journal.

Mark Twain, Anyone?

Amenities are awesome - excellent fishing, river views, play place, Pacific Crest Trail within a mile, Stern-wheeler cruises, right in the cool town of Cascade Locks. As such it should feel touristy but doesn’t. It’s not a nature lovers paradise, but open and fun overall. On the downside were a cranky, all business camp host - this is an important place, so decide NOW - and small campsites on lawns.

Open Yet Intimate Feel

We were staying at Eightmile Crossing Campground, so I came down the half-mile trail to walk around Lower Eightmile for a bit. I think it might reach 4-star status if there wasn't a lot of traffic down the dirt road the 2-3 campsites are along, or you didn't get the airplane noise like you do at Eightmile Crossing, but I didn't stay overnight to find out. No traffic or traffic noise during the 30 minutes I was there, though. Fantastic trees/greenery and a healthy stream, plus wide-open spaces and a wide road make for great star-gazing opportunities. Don't forget about the nearby Bald Butte hike, a tougher but relatively off-the-map route ending with humongous views.

Spread Out Sites, Prime Rec Area

This is a great option as each site is different and pretty spacious. Too bad they're right off the road and the relative lack of trees takes away some privacy. Still, the trees are tall and you get more sunlight, plus this is near some really cool, popular trail networks for all abilities. And consider the dirt roads lead to wonderful views as well. Springs are ephemeral, so there wasn't anything to see while we were there. A little more remote and in the 'semi-primitive' category, adding to a more natural feel.

Large Sites, Open Vibrant Area

Small… we're talkin' 3-4 sites… but each site is HUGE! Refreshing to see, and how cool to get here and take over all three with a party. Near some nice trails and gorgeous mountain views. I'd say 3 1/2 stars as it's sorta near the road, but a super busy road it is not. Bring your mountain bike.

Shade, Trails, Large River Access vs. Noise, Small Sites & Neighbors

Lots to offer here and is good for one night for more avid tenters wanting the sights or nature, or multiple nights for social campers or RVs. Good trails, well run, clean, and smack dab in the middle of Columbia Gorge, one of the most beautiful places in the country. Plenty of tall trees. I grew up next to a freeway and I love trains, though the highway and train honks are substantial if your idea was to relax in nature for the weekend. Would be four stars if the sites were a little more spread out, I reckon'. Bring your kayak, fishing pole or wetsuit - as of today, theswimguide.org indicated locations up- and downriver from Viento were safe, though it's harder than it should be to find that kind of information. Video from the tent sites south of I-84, most of the photos are from the north, river more RV-ish side.

Quietude + the "It" Factor

Very close to 5 stars, which I will only give for spectacular locations like the Four Corners area or the Oregon Coast. But Cold Creek is very thoughtfully laid out, within some spectacular scenery and off of some great trails (Bells Mtn., Yacolt Burn, Tarbell… see pics!), + it's a bit of a last option within the Sunset/Rock Creek/Battle Ground Lake quadfecta. That's probably due to its smaller size and an added difficulty in finding. What is does mean is it's extra quiet, this + campsites that are often nicely down or around the bend of 30-50 foot paths, adding to the seclusion and quiet. Helpful, chill camp host mom with a friendly young son, plus a refreshing creek with a small waterfall. She said people take down the Forest Service road signs all the time, though this campground still wasn't hard to find, partly due to the large trail map signs sprinkled throughout the area.

Settle In Settle Down

A nice creek valley, clear easy camp sites with decent spacing, a short walk to a waterfall swim hole, huckleberry and mushroom picking and fantastic sightseeing in Gifford Pinchot top the list here. It's four stars if you get a campsite creekside (which is also further away from the road), three stars for anything else. If Sunset is full, Rock Creek Horse Camp and Cold Creek can each accommodate tent campers - Battle Ground Lake too.

Vibe, Location, Serenity

This is a solid spot, fun to find and a great mix of smallish-medium campground size, tall mix of trees, nice area full of near-legendary trails and two nearby campgrounds (Cold Creek and Sunset) that you can go to if Rock Creek is full. I would get here on a Friday night, hike the nearby Tarbell (right from this campsite), Yacolt Burn or Bells Mountain trails to your hearts content Saturday, and relax Saturday night into Sunday. Or jump on the Trillium Mountain Bike trail. This place is a little harder to find because a lot of the Forest Service road signs get vandalized and taken down, but even I found it (through copious trail signs like the one pictured).