As I told you in a previous post I’ve spent the last two months in Oregon camping. My first night of camping in Oregon was on July 20th and it’s now September 27th so over 2 months in the state. In that two months we’ve had 10 camps, mostly up the central part of Oregon and then in the northeast corner. In the future I’ll be doing individual posts on the different camp sites but for today I want to give you my general overview and impressions after two months in Oregon. I’ll try to answer the question, “Is this a good state for a vandweller or RVer to spend your summer?”
But first let me say most people come to Oregon to spend their time on the coast because of its spectacular beauty and cool weather in the summer, but we’ve never been there even once. The reason is, as much as I’d love to see the coast, I just can’t stand fighting with the crowds and the traffic there! Plus ,I understand it’s very difficult to find dispersed campsites. If things go well we may go by there later in the fall when traffic diminishes, probably in October, we’ll see.
I’ll break this post up in the pros and cons, positives and negatives of our experience in Oregon. Fortunately it’s been a great place to spend the summer. First I’ll give you the many positives of spending the summer in Oregon and then I’ll give you the few drawbacks that we’ve seen.
- The number one huge positive of spending the summer in Oregon is no sales tax so you save a lot of money! I held off on a few things I wanted from Amazon until I was here, saving me a lot in sales tax. Also, there is some routine car maintenance that can be saved until you’re here. For example, if you hold off on buying tires until you get to Oregon, and they cost you $600, you could probably save $40 or more on taxes. But, just your usual day-to-day shopping like groceries or the myriad other things you buy without even being aware of it–they add up fast. All in all, not paying sales tax saves a fair amount of money.
- Another thing I really like about being here is the abundance of public land to camp on. We’ve not had the slightest problem finding really pretty campsites anywhere in the state. Ten campsites in two months is a pretty fair amount and they were all very easy to find. The center part of the state is almost entirely National Forest and the eastern part is predominately BLM land, so between the two you will have no problem finding a place to camp.
- The most amazing thing about dispersed camping in Oregon is we have never once seen a ranger in the forest. We’ve never over-stayed in a camp-site, but it’s still very nice we never saw a ranger so we could have if we wanted to.
- Since both Caroline and I work on the internet that’s very important to us. We never had a problem getting 4G wherever we went. We may have needed to look and drive around a bit to find the best signal, but we always did find it and so we consider that a big plus to Oregon–Verizon covers it very well.
- Another thing that has really stood out was how secluded and private our camps were, but generally still very close to town. We have had virtually no other people through our camps. Particularly ATVs motorcycles or other off-road vehicles. They just have not been anywhere near us–which I love!! Even seeing other traffic is rare for us–maybe we see one or two other cars a week. I’ve camped all over the west and without any question this is the least number of people I’ve had through a camp anywhere I’ve been. And we’re not even going on remote or difficult roads, Carolyn has a 29 foot Class C and she has easily been able to get to all our camps. Even when hunting season started in September we rarely saw Hunters. If we were out on the main roads we would see them driving around looking for deer but never near our camp.
- Since Caroline and I both are Avid Walkers another thing we really liked is the spider web of Roads everywhere we’ve been that allow us to go for many varied and and pleasant walks. The forest is very attractive in Oregon, we’ve had beautiful camps everywhere we’ve gone. Pretty often we’ve had decent views around us although the forest was too dense where we were camped to see the views, but we didn’t have to go very far to see them. One of our camps had the second best view I’ve ever had, it was only beat by Grand Teton NP.
- We both have enjoyed the abundance of lakes and creeks everywhere we’ve gone. Most of the time we either camped on a body of water , or one was very close by. In fact three of our camps were literally on a lake or a river and all but one of the others were within a comfortable walking distance of a lake or river. Our dogs and us have loved that!!
- Both of us have thought the people of Oregon were very pleasant–they were friendly and polite and driving was easy and comfortable. For the most part traffic hasn’t been a problem ,although the little town of Sisters, Oregon did have quite a bit of congestion, but other than that driving around Oregon was very pleasant and easy.
What are the drawbacks of spending a summer in Oregon? Actually there are very few:
- We never were very close to good shopping. There were small towns nearby, and they all had some shopping, but the nearest Walmart or major chain stores were never closer than 20 miles away. Several times the closest one was seventy-five to a hundred miles away, and that means we paid a little more for daily items.
- For the most part the weather was very good, we almost never saw rain the whole summer. But, we did have two or three weeks of unpleasantly high temperatures. It was in the mid-90s for most of that time and that was too hot for both of us. I don’t know the state well enough to know where else we could have gone to camp that would have been cooler. Of course the coast would would have been better but we didn’t know where to camp there so we didn’t want to risk it. But other than those two or three weeks of heat and a rain storm in late September, it’s been very good, sunny weather nearly every day.
- While Oregon is very pretty, it only has a few really beautiful mountains. They’re only a few places where you think to yourself, “Wow this is beautiful.” Obviously Crater Lake NP is one of them, as is the Three Sisters Mountains. But you don’t see them much because you’re always in the forest. I greatly loved Smith Rock State Park but it was a small area that we went and visited once and never saw again. The most beautiful place we went was the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon around Joseph and Hells Canyon of the Snake River. The drive over to them was very pretty and I love the Wallowas themselves. So there are some very pretty places, but overall it’s just mostly beautiful forests–which is common in most states. But to be fair, I must say we didn’t do the Oregon Coast or the Columbia River Gorge, two if the very prettiest places in Oregon.
So do I recommend spending a summer in Oregon? Yes I very highly recommend it!! The great camping, the great internet, and the facts it’s very pretty makes it very special. Not having to pay any sales tax is just money in your pocket. We both especially enjoyed being able to camp so close to water, either directly on it or within easy walking distance. I especially loved how secluded we were and that we had so little vehicle traffic, particularly ATVs motorcycles & Off-Road traffic. I was also very glad we had no Ranger enforcement and never saw one, much less spoke to one. That means if you need to stay in one place longer than you should to save some money, you can.
So there you have it, an overview of camping in Oregon for the summer, my next few posts I’ll talk about specific campsites and specific areas of beauty we went and saw, I hope you enjoy them.