Prairie Campground

Deschutes National Forest

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Paulina-East Lake Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Official Website

GPS: 43.7243, -121.4248

Last Price Paid: $14
Number of Sites: 17
Pad Type: dirt
Open Seasonally: Yes
Elevation: 4300 ft
Max Length: 30 ft

1 person has reviewed this location.

Ratings Summary

Site Quality

Cell Phone Coverage

Verizon 4G/LTE
Thumb 1926935 606505542753672 1849089407 n 420x420
Nathan @ Wand'rly
14' Volkswagen Bus, Champagne Edition, Riviera Campwagen
294 reviews
Camper icon Supporter
Nightly rate: $14
Days stayed: 2
Site Number: 16

Nathan @ Wand'rly would stay here again

“Lake Paulina or LaPine State Park would have been better, but this was a great fallback”

Reviewed Jun 23, 2015

Overall Rating's a campground hosting company. Did you know this even existed?

Here's the deal. We pull into this National Forest Campground after a lovely drive along the Volcanic Legacy National Historic Route. LaPine State Park having been full, we were just checking the various campgrounds in the area out.

At first glance, it was a "naaaah." That is the official term for lacking in our particular approval. The sites were not in any way bad, other than they were sort of "pull off the side of the road" deals, where you're more or less on the dirt road and then your site is in the forest. Only unimpressive as we have children. Otherwise I'd rate it an "it'll do" in a heartbeat.

We left to explore McKay Crossing's offerings basically just across the street, but a couple of miles back that crazy dirt washboard road--and as service died--we turned back. We also tried the ones out on Paulina Lake but as we were still in need of supplies the extra half hour from town wasn't going to work. Plus, they were all full, as was LaPine State Park.

So we return to this campground and voila, there's an exceptional spot we hadn't seen before. A little near the road but a babbling brook, Ponderosas all around, and a big blue sky after too much hunting around made the spot perfect. Plus it was in a cul de sac which would prove to render it nearly lonesome.

We set up and I proceeded to the payment station. A slip on the back of the envelope said one free night if you purchase a paid night. The free night was only good Sunday thru Wednesday, and was issued by Hoodoo.

So I, a paying Saturday night camper, took advantage of my free Sunday night. There was also a sign stating that any additional donations would be appreciated. They'd be used to save the salmon, restore the river a bit. And matched fifty cents to the dollar.

So though I had exact change I chose to drop a twenty--baller style--donating the extra $6 to the fish.

Hours went by. My family ran errands and I studied the pondos, the lodgepoles. It's a new forest, logged maybe fifty years ago but looking stout enough these days. From my particular haven, a two lane road was visible and decently busy. The family returned and just after them, a Hoodoo host.

"I wanted to ask you about your payment," he said.

"It's only $14 and your donation," he wore a long silver beard and a large green Hoodoo emblazoned shirt fit him well, "but you wrote that you're going to stay for two days".

"Yeah, it's buy one get one free, I said," happier than a man looking like Santa.

"Read the envelope. It doesn't apply to weekends," he replies.

I'm a bit puzzled. I inquire further.

"I'll get you a new slip," he says. "It's all written there." Another inquiry on my part goes by with the same reply.

I agree. I inquire as to what Hoodoo, the company is. I'm told it's a company that employs campground hosts. I want to ask if he's getting paid, and hint around trying to get an answer without being rude. But nothing. He hands me a new slip. We shake hands, quite cordially, and he leaves.

I read it again.

"Good for one night Sunday through Wednesday. With one paid night and you can only use it once per campsite per stay. Not valid Thursday - Saturday."

I revel in my forest. I discard the woes of the world as the trees break up the speedily evacuating clouds. Life goes on splendidly. Except my mind keeps jabbing me, declaring the providence of my righteousness when it comes to the legality of discounts provided by a company who can't possibly be paying their workers to serve as free campground hosts. Or can they?

I fear for the sanctity of our national forest campgrounds, and then immediately proceed to have a wonderful night.

As we're hooked up and ready to leave the host returns with nothing to say except, "Thanks for stopping by," and an inquiry as to where we're off to next. What a nice guy. Nice and puzzling too. I'm left wondering if I could get paid to clean up campsites and stock toilet paper. I think I'd like that very much. Plus the unlimited free stays would render my interpretation of the fine print unnecessary.

Site Quality
Verizon 4G/LTE

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  • dry camping
Site Amenities:
  • fire ring
  • picnic table
  • restrooms: vault
  • trash
  • water available
  • pets


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