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Camping at Umatilla National Forest

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Background on Umatilla National Forest

Umatilla National Forest, located in the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon, covers an area of approximately 1.4 million acres. The forest offers a diverse range of ecosystems, from arid grasslands to high alpine environments, and it is a place where campers can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Camping in Umatilla National Forest

Campground Camping:

  • The Umatilla National Forest provides a range of developed campgrounds. These may offer varying services like potable water, picnic tables, fire rings, restrooms, and garbage facilities.
  • Reservations for some campgrounds can be made through the National Recreation Reservation System, while others are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dispersed Camping:

  • For a more primitive experience, dispersed camping is allowed in many areas of the national forest outside developed campgrounds.
  • No amenities are provided; it's essential to follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural environment.

Camping Rules and Guidelines

General Regulations:

  • Campers should be aware of specific rules such as maximum stay limits, which are typically 14 days within a 30-day period.
  • It's crucial to check the current fire restrictions before starting a campfire. During certain times of the year, fire bans may be in effect.
  • Quiet hours are generally enforced from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Leave No Trace:

  • Pack out what you pack in, and dispose of all waste properly.
  • Respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance and not feeding them.
  • Camp at least 200 feet from lakes and streams to protect riparian areas.

Safety and Preparedness:

  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions and pack appropriate gear for the season.
  • If you plan to use a GPS or other electronic navigation aids, don't rely on them solely. Carry a map and compass as backups.
  • Be bear aware. Store food and trash properly to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife.

Recreation Opportunities

  • Hiking trails of various difficulties can be found throughout the forest, offering scenic views and wildlife watching opportunities.
  • Fishing and hunting are popular activities, but ensure you're up to date with Oregon and Washington state licenses and regulations.
  • Winter sports such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are available in certain areas when conditions permit.

Access and Transportation

  • The primary access to the Umatilla National Forest is via state highways and country roads that penetrate the forest.
  • Some roads may be closed seasonally or require high-clearance vehicles, so it's important to check the current road conditions with the forest service before your trip.

Local Offices and Information

  • Before heading to the forest, it's advisable to visit or contact one of the forest service offices for the most current information about conditions, permits, and regulations.

Environmental Considerations

Due to its diverse ecosystems, the Umatilla National Forest is home to various species of flora and fauna, some of which may be sensitive or endangered. Campers should be mindful to reduce their impact on these species and their habitats.

By respecting the natural environment and adhering to established guidelines, campers can ensure that the Umatilla National Forest remains a beautiful and welcoming place for all visitors to enjoy.

Map of Campgrounds in Umatilla National Forest
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