“Our top pick along the Lostine River Canyon. ”
We took our time driving up the Upper Lostine River Road to suss out a spot with the most shade and proximity closest to the river on this unseasonably hot day in early June. It was 95 degrees in town, but it cooled down to about 78 by the further we got up the canyon.
Turkey Flat is one of 8 rustic riverside campgrounds perched along the Lostine River. It's 16 miles south of tiny town of Lostine. The gravel road is in pretty good shape until you get to the Lostine Guard Station, at which point it's rough but manageable for any size rig. Fresh water is available at the Guard Station which is only three miles downriver. The spigot is like a fire hose and at right angles to the 2" hydrant. You might find it challenging to fill your containers.
Each campground is slightly different than the next, so take your time to find your own "sweet spot." We loved the fact that Turkey Flat had only 3 sites (we couldn't find the 4th that the guide lists. No one else was here on a gorgeous, hot Sunday. We had a huge riverside site, with it's own set of wooden steps down to the water. I hung a hammock right along the bank of the high-flowing Lostine River which was running high and fast from the early snow melt. You'll want to wait until later in the summer to dangle much more than your toes in it. The only downside to site #3 is that it's about 250 paces back o the vault toilet which is right by the entrance to Turkey Flat.
The Forest Service has provided a helpful one-page printed guide to all the campgrounds and picnic areas along the "Lostine Corridor" so stop at the Lostine Overlook on your way up the canyon (about 8 miles from town). On the way to Turkey Flat, you'll pass the Bowman/Francis Lake Trailhead which has a huge parking area and stock loading facility. Many popular lake destinations depart from this trailhead.
There's no cell phone reception in this valley, so either drive back to Lostine or hike up a few thousand feet until you get a signal! We saw only two other campers from Sunday through Tuesday of the first week of June, 2016.
Each of these facilities (called "Forest Camps" by the NFS) is very well maintained. We spent a morning visiting each one early in June of 2016 and can report that the toilets are clean and well-stocked. The trees have been cleared from the winter's storms and newly cut rounds have been left behind for campers to split and/or burn in the fire rings.
Note: Large motor homes or those towing oversized or tall trailers will have difficulty finding accommodations along the river, so try commercial parks in Joseph or at the Wallowa State Park.
Chris&David would stay here again
This review is the opinion of a Campendium member and not of Campendium.com