An Oregon yurt
Get Outdoors! Camping & Hiking Trips

Camping with Kids in Oregon

An Oregon yurt
An Oregon yurt

I loved e-mailing back and forth with the knowledgeable Paul Gerald, author of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland. After I looked over his bio a little more, I discovered that he’d also written Best Tent Camping in Oregon (you can order both books from Paul Gerald’s site). So it was obviously time to ask Paul about family-friendly campsites in Oregon!

1. What’s the best thing about camping in Oregon? Why do you love it?

I love it because I love being outdoors: hearing the birds first thing in the morning, sleeping to the sound of a stream, seeing the stars, and being away from electronics and cars. And Oregon is easy to love because of the variety. Within a few hours of Portland we can sleep on the beach, in old-growth forests, way up in the mountains, in a desert, by a trout-filled stream, or a deep blue lake.

2. Can you recommend a great kid-friendly campground along the Oregon Coast?

Cape Lookout State Park has it all: yurts, ranger programs, a fine beach, some easy and scenic hiking trails, showers … and it’s even close enough to Tillamook that you can head into town if you want.
Location: 90 minutes west of Portland.

3. Can you recommend a great kid-friendly campground in a forested area?

I think Lost Lake Resort & Campground can be a great place for family camping. It’s a paved road all the way there, and the lake is beautiful, with an amazing view of Mount Hood. It’s a Forest Service “resort,” which just means it has a store and boat rentals, and the lake is stocked with fish. There’s even a quiet, walk-in tent camping area near the Old Growth Interpretive Trail, and another trail that goes all the way around the lake. Location: About two hours east of Portland, Oregon.

4. How about a family campsite in Central or Eastern Oregon? Anything near Bend?

Try Tumalo State Park. It’s right on the edge of Bend, and it has both yurts and camping, but it’s also a quiet retreat along the Deschutes River, and close to everything Central Oregon has to offer: access to the Three Sisters, the desert, lava beds, and Newberry Crater.

Location: About 15 minutes north of downtown Bend.

5. Are there any other Oregon campgrounds that stand out as being particularly family-friendly?

For quiet, low-tech camping, I really like Riverside along the Clackamas River. A lot of the campsites along the Clackamas get busy and crowded, but Riverside is an exception. It’s only got 16 spots, and you can’t get a big RV in there. And it’s right on the river, with an easy hiking trail leaving from one end of the camp.

Location: About an hour east from Portland, Oregon.

Find more great information about traveling in Oregon from Travel Oregon.

Thanks, Paul!

Lora Shinn writes about family travel, Pacific NW travel, grown-up travel...and travel in general. Her travel-related articles and essays have appeared in Family Fun, Parenting, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, AAA magazines and Redbook, among others.


  • Mel

    Those are all okay places if you like having a true campground and people really close to you when you camp. However, we like more rustic camping. Do his books cover that? We like to camp where we won’t have neighbors close by, we don’t need pavement or showers etc, just nature and a tent. Curious if he only covers the paid pavement type camping places. I can tell you, Tumalo is VERY crowded and close quarters.

  • Emily

    This kind of info is priceless for parents! Definitely not something you can just pull off a map. I would add to this list Paradise Campground on the McKenzie and Honeyman in Florence. We have very young children, and these are especially good for first-time kid campers.