9+ Best Places for Free Dispersed Camping in Oregon

Free camping in Oregon is remarkably easy to find.

Thanks to the abundance of public land (roughly 53% of Oregon’s land is public), including both BLM land and national forests, there are top-notch dispersed camping and boondocking opportunities in every corner of the state.

Here’s exactly where to find free campsites in Oregon on your next trip.

Related Post: Best Free Camping on the Oregon Coast

Please always follow the Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping, especially packing out all of your trash, including human waste.

Best Dispersed Camping in Oregon

Skip down to the specific free campsite you want to learn more about:

Or, browse our Oregon dispersed camping map to find a free campsite near you.

My Favorite Dispersed Campsites in Oregon

Rather than list every single place for free camping in Oregon, I’ve narrowed down your options to just 9 of my personal favorite dispersed campsites to help you start your search.

Summit Rock (Fremont-Winema National Forest)

Near Crater Lake National Park

Summit Rock is my favorite place for dispersed camping near Crater Lake National Park.

The best campsites are located along Forest Road 960, just north of State Highway 138, about 18 miles from the national park’s northern entrance. These campsites are easy to see with satellite view on Google Maps (GPS: 43.098389, -122.076583).

RVs and trailers should stick to the grouping of about a dozen campsites about one mile up the unpaved road on top of the first hill. For the most part, these are large, level boondocking-friendly spots with plenty of room for RVs to turn around.

Passenger vehicles can continue a bit further up the road. However, the very last grouping of campsites, at the top of Summit Rock, should be left to high-clearance vehicles with 4WD only. The campsites at the lookout have amazing 360° views but are quite exposed to the elements.

Summit Rock is often wrongly listed as part of Umpqua National Forest. Although it’s extremely close to the USFS boundaries, the dispersed campsites along FR 960 are actually part of Fremont-Winema National Forest.

What I Like:

Dispersed camping on Forest Road 960 is very convenient for visiting Crater Lake. Lower sites are suitable for RVs and trailers. Drive in further (passenger vehicles only) for campsites with breathtaking forest views.

What I Don’t Like:

Summit Rock gets very busy. Arrive early to snag a campsite, especially on summer weekends. Regular vehicle traffic also means lots of dust. Trash is a problem like on most public lands – please pack out all your trash and leave your campsite even cleaner than when you arrived!

Other Free Campsites Nearby:

Luckily, it’s very easy to find other free campsites near Crater Lake. Near Summit Rock itself, you can find dispersed campsites on Forest Roads 961, 940, and 1370 among countless others.

Free camping at a sno-park is another great option, especially for RV boondockers. I believe Three Lakes is the closest (to Summit Rock, at least), but Claude Lewis, Thousand Springs, and Annie Creek are also located nearby.

More Info:

Summit Rock is part of Fremont-Winema National Forest.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Chemult Ranger District: (541) 365-7001

GPS: 43.098389, -122.076583

Elk River Road (Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest)

Near Port Orford

Roughly 30 minutes from Port Orford, Elk River Road is an ideal place for dispersed camping on the Oregon Coast.

The winding road follows the beautifully blue Elk River through Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. You’ll find countless roadsides pullouts for RVs and trailers as well as harder-to-reach campsites (some right on the river itself) better suited for cars, vans, and tents.

Prefer staying at a developed campground? The USFS maintains several free campgrounds (all first-come, first-served) a bit further up Elk River Road. Sunshine Bar Campground is the first one you’ll reach coming from the coast.

Although the campsites immediately along Elk River Road are most convenient for exploring the Oregon Coast, don’t be afraid to explore side roads. There are some truly amazing dispersed campsites here, especially the farther you drive inland.

Remember that dispersed camping isn’t allowed until you pass Elk River Salmon Hatchery (a sign will notify you when you’re in the national forest).

What I Like:

Elk River itself is absolutely beautiful. Several swimming holes and excellent fishing (some areas are restricted) make for plenty of recreational opportunities. There’s plenty of room to spread out if you aren’t set on camping on the river. Port Orford is just a half hour to an hour away depending on the campsite you choose.

What I Don’t Like:

Trash is a problem along Elk River Road, even more so than on other public lands. Please pack out all your trash – and, better yet, leave your campsite even cleaner than it was when you arrived.

Other Free Campsites Nearby:

Dispersed camping is sparse on the Oregon Coast. However, if you head just a half hour to an hour inland, you’ll find a huge number of dispersed campsites. From Elk River Road, it’s possible to take back roads east until you reach I-5 near Grants Pass. The stretch along Forest Road 33 (Rogue-Coquille Scenic Byway) has a ton of dispersed campsites.

More Info:

Elk River Road is part of Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Powers Ranger District: (541) 439-6200

GPS: 42.717083, -124.356417

Cole Mountain Ridge (Tillamook State Forest)

Near Tillamook

Tillamook State Forest is my go-to for dispersed camping on the northern Oregon Coast.

Although dispersed camping is allowed throughout the state forest, my favorite specific zone is along Cole Mountain Road, especially the campsites on Cole Mountain Ridge.

The roads here are a mishmash of unpaved logging roads. Some are extremely narrow, rough, and steep. These are best left for 4WD and/or high-clearance vehicles. Others are wide and flat enough for smaller RVs and trailers to navigate. Most are somewhere in between.

In my experience, the campsites get better the farther in you drive. Don’t be afraid to spend an hour or longer exploring until you find the perfect campsite (the best have amazing mountaintop views). Just make sure you keep track of where you’re going. It’s easy to get turned around on these logging roads.

What I Like:

Tillamook State Forest has plenty of room to spread out. Not only is it a short drive to the Oregon Coast (especially Tillamook, Cannon Beach, Nehalem, Manzanita, etc), but it’s also home to some of the best dispersed camping near Portland. There are campsites with absolutely incredible mountaintop views if you put in the time to find them yourself.

What I Don’t Like:

Much of Tillamook State Forest is an active logging area. The unpaved roads aren’t well maintained and much of the area has been clear cut. I’ve personally never run into logging trucks or a logging operation, but keep an eye out while camping here. Trash, especially broken beer bottles and spent shotgun shells, is a problem throughout the area.

Other Free Campsites Nearby:

Don’t limit yourself to Cole Mountain Road. Cole Creek, Cook Creek, Wheeler Road, and Jordan Creek are other places to base your search. There are a million places to camp for free in Tillamook State Forest. It just takes time and patience to find your own slice of paradise. 

More Info:

Cole Mountain Ridge is part of Tillamook State Forest.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Oregon Department of Forestry Headquarters: (503) 945-7200

GPS: 45.863917, -123.758333

Brooks Meadow Road (Mount Hood National Forest)

Near Mount Hood

For those exploring the eastern side of Mount Hood, the side roads along Brooks Meadow Road (Forest Road 44) are a great place to start your search for the perfect campsite.

Located just a half hour south of Hood River on Oregon Route 35 within Mt. Hood National Forest, the turn off onto Brooks Meadow Road is just before Little John Sno Park. Continue down this paved road and you’ll almost immediately start seeing turnoffs for unpaved Forest Service roads.

Don’t be afraid to explore each of these side roads until you find the perfect campsite. Although the area is heavily wooded, a little exploration yields countless campsites with full views of nearby Mount Hood if you’re patient.

Another option is to continue on down Brooks Meadow Road until the turn off for Surveyors Ridge Road (FR 17). This road is littered with dispersed campsites as well as turnoffs for other roads with even more dispersed campsites. 

RV boondocking is possible here, although somewhat limited. Make sure to scout ahead on foot on any unpaved side roads to make sure the road is clear with enough room for your rig to turn around.

What I Like:

There are hundreds of dispersed campsites in Mount Hood National Forest. The side roads along Brooks Meadow Road and Forest Road 17 have many campsites with beautiful views of the mountain. Most are quite private. This area is just a half hour from Hood River and a half hour from Government Camp (and an hour from Dufur).

What I Don’t Like:

Camping here has few, if any, negatives. Sure, it gets busy, but the campsites are spread apart and there are countless side roads to spread out. Some of the side roads are too narrow for even small RVs and trailers. But many nearby roads are suitable for such rigs (although I wouldn’t take a big rig here).

Other Free Campsites Nearby:

Don’t limit yourself to just Brooks Meadow Road. Turn onto Dufur Valley Road for even more campsites. Don’t forget to explore the countless side roads (and side roads of side roads). FR 17 and its side roads are particularly good for dispersed camping. Fifteen Mile Campground, a small free campground with vault toilets is perfect for those who prefer picnic tables and fire rings.

More Info:

Brooks Meadow Road is part of Mt. Hood National Forest.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Barlow Ranger District: (541) 467-2291

GPS: 45.424222, -121.547222

Spring Creek Road (Wallowa-Whitman National Forest)

Near La Grande

Less than 15 miles north of La Grande, Spring Creek Road (Forest Road 21) is the perfect dispersed camping destination for those traveling through Eastern Oregon on I-84.

Campsites appear almost immediately after you leave the highway via Exit 248. The first mile or so of dispersed campsites are perfect for those only looking for a place to crash overnight. Many of these spots can accommodate even the largest RVs and trailers.

About a mile and a half from the highway, you’ll pass the entrance to Spring Creek Campground. Staying here is a great option if you prefer to camp in a developed campground with picnic tables, fire pits, and a vault toilet. It’s completely free and has 4 first-come, first-served campsites.

Just past the entrance to the campground are several large dispersed campsites. These are spacious enough to each accommodate several RVs or trailers. However, these fill up quickly with boondockers, hunters, and ATVers.

Luckily, there’s a seemingly endless amount of space to spread out. Dozens of side roads splinter off from FR 21, most with places to dispersed camp. I can’t give any exact coordinates, but some campsites in this area have impressive views of Grande Ronde Valley. 

What I Like:

Camping here is extremely convenient when traveling on I-84 through La Grande. Although Spring Creek Road is gravel, it’s relatively smooth (aside from washboarding) for the first several miles with enough room for RVs and trailers to turn around if needed. Beyond that, the roads get narrower and rougher with countless sketchy side roads for brave campers who prefer more privacy.

What I Don’t Like:

The best campsites here fill up quickly, especially the large, level spots near Spring Creek Campground which are best for RV boondocking. Luckily, it’s easy to find a private campsite if you’re able to navigate the narrower, rougher side roads.

Other Free Campsites Nearby:

Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has thousands of dispersed campsites. I typically drive in at least 10 miles past Spring Creek Campground before setting up camp.

Morgan Lake is another amazing place for free camping near La Grande. You do have to check in with a camp host, but camping is free for up to 3 nights. Be forewarned – the gravel road in is steep, around a 17% grade. I often see RVs here, but nothing longer than about 24 feet.

More Info:

Spring Creek Road is part of Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the La Grande Ranger District: (541) 962-8500

GPS: 45.424222, -121.547222

Priest Hole Recreation Site (BLM Land)

Near Painted Hills

Free camping near the Painted Hills just doesn’t get much better than Priest Hole Recreation Site.

Dispersed camping is the name of the game here. There’s plenty of room to spread out – and you’re even allowed to camp right down on the river bar.

In fact, the river itself is the best part about camping here. Priest Hole is located right alongside the middle of the Wild and Scenic John Day River. This makes for excellent fishing, swimming, and rafting.

Although amenities are sparse, you can expect a handful of rock fire rings as well as one surprisingly clean (at least on my last visit) vault toilet. Natural shade is in short supply, although the scraggly vegetation does provide a little bit of privacy for those camping near the river. 

Plan to drive about three miles down a relatively smooth gravel road before turning onto the much rougher access road. The road is bumpy (with the occasional washout), but you don’t need 4WD, although high-clearance is helpful.

I’ve seen plenty of RVs and trailers camped here (the camping area is spacious and flat), but I personally wouldn’t take anything longer than about 30 feet maximum here. Don’t be afraid to scout ahead on foot if you’re in a big rig.

What I Like:

Priest Hole is located in “the middle of nowhere,” yet the Painted Hills and the rest of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument are just a half hour drive away. The scenery is gorgeous and the wildlife is abundant. The river is just steps away with excellent fishing and swimming. You can even camp on the river bar itself. Minimal light pollution means very bright stars at night.

What I Don’t Like:

Despite the isolated location, don’t come here if you’re looking for privacy. The camping area is quite open, so you’ll almost certainly see and hear your neighbors, especially on busy summer weekends. Natural shade is limited. Don’t forget to look out for rattlesnakes!

Other Free Campsites Nearby:

Continue straight on Burnt Ranch Road past the turnoff for Priest Hole for more free BLM camping near the Painted Hills. Drive for about 5.5 miles down the moderately washboarded gravel road until you reach the Burnt Ranch Boat Launch.

Although the best campsites are located near the boat launch, the access road is very steep and very rough (it also gets very muddy after rains). You don’t need 4WD to get down to the boat launch campsites, but high-clearance is certainly helpful. RVs and trailers should stick to the campsites up on the ridge.

Big RVs and trailers should avoid both Priest Hole and Burnt Ranch and opt for the large, level campsites along the access road before the turnoff for Painted Hills National Monument. These are well-marked with rock fire rings. Just make sure to look for “No Trespassing” signs as this area is dotted with private land.

More Info:

Priest Hole Recreation Site is part of the Bureau of Land Management.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Prineville District Office: (541) 416-6700

GPS: 44.739500, -120.271444

Slocum Creek Campground (BLM Land)

Near Jordan Valley

For some of the most remote camping in Oregon, look no further than Slocum Creek Campground.

Located in the stunning Leslie Gulch near the Owyhee Reservoir, this free BLM campground has a dozen campsites, all but one of which have shade/rain shelters.

Slocum Creek has easy access to numerous hiking trails. The area is also popular with anglers, rock climbers, and kayakers. Keep your eyes peeled for California bighorn sheep – a large herd calls the rocky slopes here home.

Although there’s enough room at the campground for all but the biggest RVs and trailers, I’d personally avoid camping here in anything over, say, 24 feet. The reason being the road: expect almost 25 miles of gravel with moderate washboarding and a few steep sections.

This campground is little more than a large parking lot with campsites ringing the outside. There’s little to no privacy. Yet the beautiful scenery more than makes up for this (in my personal opinion).

What I Like:

Leslie Gulch is absolutely beautiful. Take your time on the drive in to appreciate the passing views. The campground is clean, including the vault toilet. The shade/rain shelters are a nice touch.

What I Don’t Like:

Just a word of caution – avoid Slocum Creek after heavy rains. The road, which is normally passable in all passenger vehicles, becomes an absolute mess after it rains. The only other downside is the lack of privacy.

Other Free Campsites Nearby:

In Leslie Gulch, camping is restricted to Slocum Creek Campground. Dispersed camping is allowed if you’re outside the boundaries of the “Area of Critical Environmental Concern” (such as several miles down the side road that splits off from Leslie Gulch Road to the south near Dago Gulch), but it’s best to stick to the campground just to be safe.

More Info:

Slocum Creek Campground is part of the Bureau of Land Management.

Free camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Vale District Office: (541) 473-3144

GPS: 43.321528, -117.320361

Hart Mountain Hot Springs (Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge)

Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

The campground near Hart Mountain Hot Springs is among my absolute favorites in all of Oregon.

Although it’s a developed (albeit primitive) campground and dispersed camping isn’t allowed anywhere within the National Antelope Refuge, camping here is still completely free of charge.

The biggest draw is undoubtedly Hart Mountain Hot Springs (also called Antelope Hot Springs). These natural hot springs consist of a built-up concrete pool surrounded by a stone wall and a separate undeveloped pool with no improvements. Although it’s much shallower, I prefer the undeveloped pool thanks to its wide-open views of the nearby mountains.

The campground is just a short walk from the springs and has 30 first-come, first-served campsites. The drive in is very long with moderate washboarding, but any passenger vehicle should be able to survive the journey (although high-clearance is helpful). Small RVs and trailers should be fine, but avoid camping here in big rigs.

Camping is allowed year-round, but I’d avoid this area in winter. Heavy snows often make the roads impassable, even in 4WD. The best times to enjoy the hot springs are spring and fall (mosquitos are quite heavy in the summer).

What I Like:

The scenery at Hart Mountain Hot Springs Campground is simply stunning. Wildlife, especially pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep, is abundant. The area is extremely remote which makes for very dark night skies. Of course, the nearby natural hot springs are one of the best reasons to make a trip here.

What I Don’t Like:

Hart Mountain Hot Springs (like almost all hot springs) is very popular. It gets very busy at the springs and the campground is known to fill up. Plan to visit in the shoulder season (spring or fall) for a mellower experience.  

Other Free Campsites Nearby:

This National Wildlife Refuge is home to three other primitive campgrounds: Camp Hart Mountain, Post Meadows, and Guano Creek Campgrounds. All are free, open year-round (depending on winter weather), and first-come, first-served. No dispersed camping is allowed here.

More Info:

Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Free camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge: (541) 947-2731

GPS: 42.501833, -119.690111

Big Bar Camping Area (Payette National Forets)

Hells Canyon

Big Bar Camping Area makes a great home base for exploring Hells Canyon.

Several large dispersed campsites are spread along the banks of the Snake River (with a handful right on the river’s edge itself). The road in is paved and the camping area is spacious and flat – making this a great spot for RV boondocking.

Technically, Big Bar is in Idaho, although the Snake River acts as the state’s border with Oregon along this particular section, so the Beaver State is literally just across the river.  

There’s not a ton of shade or privacy here (although a handful of sites do have a decent supply of both), but the riverside location makes staying here well worth it. The views are seriously awe inspiring and there’s a good chance you’ll see wildlife (deer, at the very least, and bear, if you’re lucky – rattlesnakes too, unfortunately).

Despite the remote location, Big Bar Camping Area does get pretty busy on summer weekends, but there’s a chance that a weekday visit will net you the entire area to yourself, at least once night falls.

What I Like:

Big Bar is a stunning place to camp. And it provides easy to access to much of the additional natural beauty that Hells Canyon has to offer. Plenty of spacious, level campsites make this a perfect place to bring your RV or trailer.

What I Don’t Like:

Other than minimal shade and a lack of privacy, the only downside to camping at Big Bar is the distance to the closest services. The nearest towns of any size are Halfway (30 miles) and Baker City (85 miles) in Oregon and Cambridge (55 miles) in Idaho. Oh, and, make sure to watch out for rattlesnakes!

Other Free Campsites Nearby:

A handful of dispersed campsites (mostly pullouts on the river side of the main roads) line both Hells Canyon Road (Idaho side) and Homestead Road (Oregon side) of the Snake River. The majority of these campsites are located on BLM land or in either Payette (Idaho) or Wallowa-Whitman (Oregon) national forests.

More Info:

Big Bar Dispersed Camping Area is part of Payette National Forest.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Council Ranger District: (208) 253-0100

GPS: 45.128278, -116.738111

Related Post: Best Free Campsites in Idaho

How to Find Even More Free Camping in Oregon

A view of Mount Hood in Oregon with a lake and forest in the foreground.

Don’t limit yourself to my favorite Oregon dispersed campsites. With a little know-how, it’s super easy to find free campsites on your own.

  • Online Maps – Satellite view on Google Maps is super helpful for finding potential dispersed campsites in national forests and on BLM land. Gaia GPS is another very useful map tool complete with USFS and BLM boundary layers.
  • MVUM Maps – Stop by a nearby USFS ranger station or BLM visitor center to pick up paper motor vehicle use maps. MVUMs are also available online for use on your mobile device from Avenza Maps.
  • Ask a Ranger – While you’re at the ranger station (or if you encounter a ranger in the field), ask for their dispersed camping suggestions. They’ll be happy to point you in the direction of a campsite that suits your needs and preferences.

For a more in-depth breakdown, check out my full write-up on how to find free campsites near you.

Related Post: Dispersed Camping on BLM Land 101

Oregon Dispersed Camping Rules and Regulations

Haystack Rock at sunset in Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast.

I can’t emphasize it enough – always follow the Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping (in Oregon and everywhere else).

Most importantly, pack out all of your trash. Our public lands are experiencing a huge trash problem, both from unprepared campers and plain old a-holes.

So, come prepared to pack out your own trash, including food waste. I try to leave each campsite even cleaner than it was before I got there by picking up any garbage other campers left behind.

In addition to packing out your trash, it’s vital to properly dispose of human waste, especially in environmentally-sensitive areas.

Burying human waste in a cat hole is allowed on much of Oregon’s public lands as long as it’s 200 feet from any campsite, trail, or water source. But, I personally prefer to pack all of my waste out, either in a WAG bag or a portable camping toilet.

Please make sure to follow all summertime campfire restrictions (wildfires are a huge problem in the west), stay out of any closed areas, and respect all stay limits (usually 14 days on BLM land and in national forests).

Related Post: Dispersed Camping in National Forests 101

Have an Awesome Oregon Camping Trip!

Dispersed camping is my favorite way to explore all of Oregon’s incredibly beautiful outdoor wonders.

From the Oregon Coast to Mount Hood to Crater Lake to East Oregon, you’re sure to find the perfect free campsite for your personal needs, whether you camp in a van, tent, RV, or trailer.

Still haven’t found a dispersed campsite that meets your needs? Don’t hesitate to shoot me a line with any questions.

More Help: jake@campnado.com

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Post written by Jake Heller, the founder of Campnado. Read all Jake's posts. Or reach out to him directly: jake@campnado.com

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