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Camping at Deschutes National Forest

Deschutes National Forest
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Location and Basic Info

Deschutes National Forest is located in central Oregon, bordered by the Cascade Range to the west. The forest covers an area of about 1.6 million acres, providing a wide range of recreational activities and natural beauty.

Camping Opportunities

Developed Campgrounds

  • The forest offers more than 80 campgrounds with a variety of services, including RV hookups and tent-only sites. Amenities vary from basic to full-service campgrounds with flush toilets and showers.

Dispersed Camping

  • In addition to designated campgrounds, dispersed camping is allowed in many parts of the forest, offering a more primitive experience. When dispersed camping, practice Leave No Trace principles and be aware that there are no services like water, trash removal, or toilets.

Group Camping

  • Next-Level Group Campgrounds are available, designed for larger groups. These sites often include additional space and amenities to accommodate groups.

Cabin Rentals

  • For those looking for a bit more comfort, the forest offers several cabin rentals. These range from rustic to more modern facilities.

Reservations and Fees

  • Many campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-served basis, but some also accept reservations, which can be made through Recreation.gov.
  • Fees vary based on the location, services provided, and time of year. Check the specific campground for accurate fee information.

Seasonal Access and Conditions

  • While many campgrounds in Deschutes National Forest are open year-round, seasonal closures can affect some areas, particularly due to snow in the winter months.
  • The best time to camp generally falls between late spring and early fall, with some of the higher-elevation sites being accessible only during the warmer months.

Fire Regulations

  • Fire regulations can change with conditions. During periods of high fire danger, campfires may be restricted or prohibited. Always check the current fire regulations before you plan your trip.
  • Firewood collection regulations also vary, with some areas allowing the gathering of dead and down wood while others do not.

Wildlife and Safety

  • Deschutes National Forest is home to diverse wildlife, including bears. Proper food storage is essential to avoid attracting animals to campgrounds.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to minimize the risk of wildlife encounters.
  • Remember to store food and scented items in bear-proof containers or vehicles.

Leave No Trace

  • When camping in any part of Deschutes National Forest, it's crucial to follow Leave No Trace principles.
  • Pack out all waste, respect wildlife, and leave the area as you found it or better for the next visitors.

Outdoor Activities

  • The forest offers a wide array of outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding, and water sports on the numerous lakes and rivers.
  • In winter, activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are popular.

Weather and Clothing

  • The weather can be unpredictable, so come prepared for various conditions, especially if you are camping at higher elevations where it can be significantly cooler.
  • Layered clothing is recommended to accommodate for the warm days and cooler nights.


  • Some campgrounds are more accessible than others. If you have specific needs, check the campground information or contact the local ranger district for assistance in finding a site that meets your requirements.

Local Regulations and Information

  • It's essential to familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding pets, vehicle use, and permits for certain activities.
  • For the latest information, contact the Deschutes National Forest office or visit their official website before your trip.

By taking these considerations into account, your camping experience in Deschutes National Forest can be safe, enjoyable, and environmentally responsible.

Map of Campgrounds in Deschutes National Forest
Campgrounds in Deschutes National Forest
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