By Tania Griffis
When it comes to sleeping amongst stunning scenery and mild climates, it’s hard to compete with the state of Oregon. This beautiful state is filled with mountains, greenery, and plenty of opportunities to pitch a tent. Even better? This can often be done for low cost or even completely free.
However, there are only certain places where you can take advantage of free camping in Oregon. Read this guide to find out where you can safely participate in free or dispersed camping throughout the state.
Is dispersed camping allowed in Oregon?
Yes, dispersed camping is allowed in Oregon and can be a wonderful way to explore the state. Dispersed camping is allowed in the state and national forests year-round, and the state does not require a permit or prior permission to do so.
While the Forest Service campgrounds in Oregon typically offer amenities such as fire rings, picnic tables, and in some cases plumbing, dispersed camping means you will not have access to any of these features.
Dispersed camping in Oregon is truly an adventure. While this type of camping does require extra know-how and experience, it can be a wonderful way to enjoy free camping in Oregon.
Campers are required to follow the Leave No Trace guidelines. These include regulations such as camping on bare soil rather than vegetation, keeping your campsite a minimum distance of 200 feet away from any water source, and removing all trash and debris from the site when you leave.
Free Camping on the Oregon Coast
If you are looking for dispersed camping on the Oregon coast, there are several opportunities available. Free camping is available outside of coastal state parks and outside of certain city limits.
These spots tend to be remote and hard to access. Campers should take care to note where high tide is and keep their tents well away from the shoreline.
Free Camping in Oregon in Public Lands
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages over 16 million acres of public land throughout Oregon and Washington. While some of these areas offer paid developed camping, dispersed camping on public lands is also an option.
Campers may not stay for longer than 14 days within a consecutive 28 day period. After the 14 days are exceeded, campers must move a minimum of 25 miles away to locate a new campsite.
Free State Park Camping Oregon
While state parks typically charge a fee to stay within their grounds and utilize camping spots, a few groups are exempt from this charge.
The state offers special camping passes to U.S. veterans with a service-related disability or active military on official leave. This pass allows for free parking and free camping in Oregon state parks, including RV sites, campsites, and horse campsites.
Additionally, several parks within the Oregon state park system will sometimes offer free yurts and cabins for groups of underrepresented campers such as people of color, disabled campers, and those who identify as LGBTQ.
Boondocking in Oregon
If you prefer to camp in an RV, boondocking in Oregon can be a simple—and fun—way to keep costs down. Boondocking is typically outside of developed campsites, meaning there is no water or hookups available. Parking overnight in a parking lot such as a Walmart is sometimes an option, but campers must get permission from the store manager before doing so.
With a little extra planning, campers can easily take advantage of free camping in Oregon and enjoy all the scenic wonders of this state.