Student-friendly camping sites near Portland

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The Clackamas River at Milo McIver State Park. Courtesy of user --b-- through Wikimedia Commons

As spring and summer draw near, students and faculty of PSU are looking forward to finally having clear skies and sunshine, which means that camping season is just over the horizon. Not everyone’s from Oregon, so for those of you who are thinking of camping, there are dozens of places within an hour’s drive from Portland that everyone can enjoy.

1) Government Island, approximately 15 miles northeast of Portland. This is an option that may be best for those on a budget and those who like boats. This campground is on an island and free to camp on, though it should be worth mentioning that the only way to get on and off the island is by boat (or really dedicated swimming).

2) Oxbow Island, approximately 25 miles from Portland. Boasting 12 miles of hiking trails and sandy beaches on the riverfront, Oxbow is very much beginner friendly. Campers can use the public access restrooms and on-site fire pits, picnic tables and cooking grills. This certainly makes packing and planning much easier! Camping costs $22 per night, though the site provides a firewood service for $5 and a one-time parking fee, also $5.

3) Champoeg State Park, about 29 miles away. Champoeg is a place where Oregon’s rich history and its breathtaking nature meet. Offering a sight that has been relatively untouched since Oregon’s birth, nature lovers and history buffs alike are sure to find something great about Champoeg. The Historic Butteville Store is on-site and is one of Oregon’s oldest living stores. There are more RV sites than tent sites, so be sure to reserve your spot ahead of time if you want to pitch a tent in this beautiful park. A single tent site costs about $19, while a group site costs $71; there are also yurts and cabins available for those who want to experience nature without the hassle of tents.

4) Sunset Camp, about 29 miles away in Washington. You’d be missing out if you’re from out of state and you didn’t get a chance to see one of the many beautiful waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. Situated near Hoodoo River and within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Sunset gets you right next to a beautiful waterfall that would be a beautiful sight to wake up to every morning. Camping with a tent in a non-electric site costs only about $12, which is a fairly low price to pay for a night or three in paradise.

5) Milo McIver State Park, only 31 miles away from the city. The half-hour drive is worth it, since Milo McIver is a massive park with around 50 campsites, a plethora of trails, and a long river to follow. If you’re into adventure, $18 is more than enough to cover the view, and the memories of staying in a beautiful campsite like this would certainly make that price all the more worthwhile.

6) Feyrer State Park, which is about 34 miles away, is a beautiful park that has about 20 tent camping sites at the price of $26 per night. This a place that also offers another possible river extravaganza, since it’s situated close to the Molalla river.

7) L.L. Stub Stewart Park is about 34 miles west of Portland and has a wider variety of things to explore than most other sites on this list. Wildlife roam free here for your viewing pleasure, and the park itself also offers trails friendly for hikers and bikers, all about $21. There are also cabins available.

8) Lost Lake Park, perhaps the most touristy-trap-like spot on this list, is around 40–50 miles away, although its proximity to the famous Mt. Hood makes the drive all the more worthwhile. With around 120 sites (ranging from $27–55) for your camping pleasure, campers can find all sorts of things to do in this area, from hiking, biking, maybe skiing, to boating. If you want to explore Mt. Hood in the glory of the Oregon summer, this would be the best spot to call home base for a few days.

9) Silver Lake, around 45+ miles away from Portland, barely makes it on this list. However, this site is one of the most famous in Oregon, hailed as the state’s “crown jewel” by some. Although you may not be camping right next to the falls, they’re just a hike away, and there are 40+ sites where you can pitch your tent or a few dozen cabins you can rent. Unlike Lost Lake, it’s only a little less of a tourist-trap, and cheaper since camping sites start at about $19.

These are the camping grounds that are best for beginners, students or others with a budget who are looking to enjoy nature this summer. They’re listed from the closest to the farthest and are all well worth the drive. What better way to spend your days than visiting the most beautiful places near home?

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