Do you have a favorite state park or a special camping memory? (2010)


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Oregonians treasure their state parks. Many family traditions center on an annual trip to a favorite park.

Whether you are a long-time visitor to a  park or just discovered one new to you, tell us  about your visit. Click on the Leave a Comment link above and to the left of this article, and type in your story in the comment field.

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Family photo taken at Smith Rock State Park.

Family photo taken at Smith Rock State Park. Photo submitted during a recent Oregon State Parks photo contest.

Posted on March 31, 2010, in state parks. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. My favorite state park is Detroit Lake State Park. I have been going there for 3 yrs now and I am really happy with the services there and the wonderful staff. The first time i went there I had a diabetic episode and they made sure i was ok the whole camping trip.

  2. I am a partner in a small film production company out of Portland, OR, called Quarter Orange. For our first yearly planning meeting me made a three day trip out to Silver Creek Falls State Park where we stayed in one of the great cabins. The cabin provided a warm place to discuss our plans for the next five years, while the park provided a beautiful background to reflect on our goals as a company. We spent just as much time planning as we did out enjoying the scenery and each others company.

  3. Carole & Monte Dayley

    WE absolutely love to camp at South Beach, south of Newport. We have been going there for about ten years and what impresses us is the family atmosphere; the events they have for families with children. Everyone is always so friendly and helpful.

  4. debbie flewell

    My very favorite state park is Beachside.Have been there many times in the last few years.Camping is always great there.Staff and services are top notch.I have family in Washington and we always meet at beachside for a wonderful time.Right on the beach how bad can that be?Up keep on the parks are alway’s clean.nice time always.thanks

  5. My family and I love Grizzly Creek State Campground on Hwy 39 in Northern California. We have been going at least twice a year for over 20 years. It has great hiking and a wonderful swimming hole on the Van Duzen River. We are always glad to see Ranger Robert and our favorite camp hosts.

  6. NanDog (my screen name)

    Not a favorite memory but perhaps the most memorable.

    Camped at Cape Lookout State Park on the Oregon coast in April sometime in the mid-90’s (’95, ’96 or ’97 maybe?).

    Heard on the radio that there was a major storm coming in but as I’d spent many years mountain climbing, backcountry skiing and winter camping at altitude, I thought “No big deal”. We’re car-camping, right?

    I was fairly new to simple car camping. I was used to camping high in the mountains in tents the size of large coffins! We were in a large tent and decided to stay although most everyone else left the park.

    I secured the tent to surrounding trees and shrubs with a lot of parachute cord. What a night! You could hear the wind gusts coming in off the beach and it sounded like a Boeing 747 approaching! Our tall tent bent over so far that the fabric at times touched our faces! I later heard there was a wind gust clocked at close to 100 m.p.h. at Tillamook Head and the rainfall was torrential.

    When daylight finally arrived (we didn’t sleep at all!) we found that numerous trees had fallen in the park (one fell directly where our former neighbors had been before they had left!) and that many of the park roads were blocked. We packed up and drove into Tillamook in order to find something to eat. Hiway 101 had nearly a foot-and-half of water over it in places and most of the areas around the local rivers were flooded!

    In fact, for a number of years, the Safeway store on 101 (before they moved) had pictures of the flooding in the store posted in the entry-way.

    As a climber I’ve lived through some pretty horrific conditions up in the mountains.

    This experience topped them all and taught me a lot about heeding weather warnings no matter where one is camped!

    No matter what, Cape Lookout State Park is still one of my favorite places to camp.

  7. We love Fort Stevens State Park. We have been camping there for 10 years! We have made it a tradition, and it is a great park for everything. From the long sandy beach with the wreck of the Iredale, to the miles of bike trails, and the warm water of Coffenbury Lake, we always have plenty to do! We have experienced many of the Labor Day Civil War reenactments and now are personal friends with some of the actors! Our church goes there every summer for family camp as well. It is the best park for making many wonderful memories!

  8. Have camped at almost all Oregon State Parks. Best camping system in the United States – and we have camped all over.

    Most favorite camping spot was Oswald West. Load equipment & supplies in the wheelborrow and trek down the trail. Campsites like a little village on the beach. Short Sands was one of our favorite beaches from 1950’s when a child.

    Probably next favorite is Sunset Bay on the southern Oregon coast near Coos Bay. Short walk to the cove. Nearby are Shore Acres.

    Worst and most poorly designed campground from our perspective is Stub Stewart. Nice to camp in a parking lot or picnic on a wind-swept ridge. No desire to return. Older designed parks were much better.

    Have done tents, yurts, motor home. Enjoy it all. Sorry that dedicated funding was taken from park system when separated from highway funds. Then lottery funds were to add to funds and even then system ended up with reduced funds. In spite of it all, we appreciate your good work and the wonderful parks.

    Al Z

  9. Steve and Carolyn

    Our favorite state park is Champoeg. We started camping there about 11 years ago when we got our first RV. We prefer B loop for the big camp sites. We like to go there to relax, bike ride & go for walks. The bike path was re-paved & it is real nice. You can bike all the way to the historic Butteville store. And we’re only 30 minutes away from home. There is a spot overlooking the river at the old town site where we enjoy a pinic lunch. The park staff & camp hosts are always nice.

  10. Tammy Clayton

    We have gone many years to Memaloose State Park near Hood River. It is a very relaxing campground with great views of the Columbia Gorge. It is always warm there and very close to the city, so an easy get away for a weekend. Great also for wind surfers.

  11. We love the Oregon S.P system. So many parks that are simply outstanding. Our latest favorite is La Pine state park near La Pine. We rented a cabin that for a trial period is allowing dogs. Brought our pups and we had a splendid time. We had snow on the ground when we arrived (late February) and the first night it snowed. Waking up to the perfect sights of fresh snow on the trees and ground was lovely. The Deschutes river is nearby and a wonderful trail follows the course of the river. We walked to the oldest and largest Ponderosa Pine, a magnificent character of a tree. Our dogs were happy to be with their family and enchanted by the snow. Please do consider allowing pets in a few cabins at every campground. Dog folks are mostly good folks and we stay at every campground with our pups. Thank you State Parks for keeping up the best park system in the country.

  12. We’re new to Oregon (2 years this summer) so have not had the opportunity to visit most of the parks–yet–so not really able to have a “favorite” yet. However, we’ve enjoyed camping and/or visiting the following:
    Silver Falls SP–great bike path!!
    Ft. Stevens (we actually were camping at the KOA because FS was full)–biking & hiking was fun–particularly the ride out to the far jetty.
    Champoeg–this is close to home, and was the inaugeral camp trip for our new camper (our first after years of tent camping). Loved the bike path to the general store.
    Willamette Mission–more fun biking, after a paddle down the Willamette on a HOT day!

    We already have reservations for Nehalem Bay in June–can’t wait! Looking forward to paddling on the Nehalem, and doing more bike riding.

  13. Darren Kennedy

    Like many that have posted here, I have stayed at many of the campgrounds in the Oregon State Parks System. Quite frankly, evertthing else pales in comparison. There is one park that is the kickoff to out summer camping season. We believe it is the best kept secret in the whole parks system (I don’t know if I even want to say!), but while we visit as many parks as possible, I would have to say that our favorite is Milo McIver. It’s very quiet, close to home, has lots of hiking trails, and a cool history. But if I were you, I wouldn’t visit there…..that way it won’t be too crouded when we go!

  14. Just have to say that our family has been camping for over 20 years and prior to that it was my parents who took us camping in Oregon State Parks. Favorite parks: La Pine, Cove Palisades, Beverly Beach,
    Cape Lookout. Fort Stevens would have been on this list, until we
    discovered the drastic changes. It is VERY overcrowded now and we do
    not plan on returning that park for overnights ever again. We stay at the KOA across the road, it is NOT CROWDED. For several years we traveled KOA because the rates were a bit lower and had more amenities.
    However, unemployment for the past two years for my husband has put a crimp in our usual plans. Wish there were some special rates for seniors (60+ yrs) who are needing to look for work. Parking our tent
    trailer and looking for work in another part of the state would be helpful. Cannot afford motel rooms. It seens to us that our parents and ourselves as native Oregonians have contributed to the building of these parks and should get a special rate. How about an id badge, which we had to submit birth certificates, to show or give the badge number to the reservation people.

  15. I’ve been going to Wallowa Lake since 1977 when I went with my parents. Now, 33 years later, I take my family and it’s like home away from home.

  16. Our family LOVES to camp at Joseph Stewart State Park near Shady Cove in the southern part of the state. Our young children particularly enjoy playing in the water fountain/wading pool on hot summer days! We always choose campsites which have quick access to the playground and water fountain, and we can even keep an eye on our kids from our site. We love that the campground has large grassy areas for the kids to run around. This year we hope to explore some of the bike trails as a family.

    We will be venturing into new territory this year and will be camping at LaPine, as well as Stewart.

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