Camping doesn’t have to be a haul. Check out these camping spots all within a one-hour drive from Bend.
With summer heating up and the crowds starting to pour in, everyone’s itching to skip town for the weekend and head outside. Skip all of the fuss and take your pick from these ten easy-access spots within an hour drive from Bend. Whether you prefer relaxing by a rushing river or taking moonlight paddleboard trips on calm lake water, we have you covered.
Tumalo State Park
Only four miles northwest of Bend on the Middle Deschutes River and in close proximity to Sisters and Smith Rock State Park, the Tumalo State Park Campground is an optimal location for Central Oregon adventures. Be prepared for some serious glamping because this convenient site offers full restrooms and solar showers. There are twenty-three full hook-up sites, fifty-four tent sites and seven rustic yurts, but it can get busy in the heat of the summer, so make sure to reserve a campsite in advance. Relax in the park and enjoy a lazy float on a shallow stretch of the river or barbecue at one of the many picnic areas.
Driving time: 15 minutes
Facilities: Restrooms, solar showers, water, ice and firewood during summer months
Fees and reservations: $21/day for a tent site, reserve online in advance
Open: Year-round, some sites closed seasonally
Looking for some convenient, no-fuss camping right in town? There are many dispersed campsites right off of Skyliners Road near the rushing waters of Tumalo Creek. Head up Skyliners Road and take the second turn on the right onto Brook-Scanlons Logging road, an unmarked, gravel road. Bear left when the road soon splits and continue on a dirt road until you cross a bridge over Tumalo Creek. Snag one of the few spots to the right of this bridge in close proximity to the water or continue up this road to find a large group campsite. This site sits on a clearing atop tall basalt cliffs and is a perfect spot to watch the sunrise. If these spots are taken, as they attract a lot of traffic in the busy summer months, set up camp at any clearing along the way and always remember to leave no trace.
Driving time: 25 minutes
Facilities: No restrooms or water, dispersed camping
Fees and reservations: Available on first-come, first-serve basis
With astounding views of South Sister, Broken Top and Mount Bachelor, lush meadows and clear green-blue water, Sparks Lake is a camper’s dream. There are approximately twenty campsites around its shallow shores. Those accessible by car are limited and get scooped up quickly in the busy summer months. Your best bet is to hop on a canoe, kayak or paddleboard and transport your gear to one of the more secluded sites. For big groups, set up camp at one of the larger sites in one of the lake’s fingers on the eastern shore. These spots can also be reached by a hiking trail that starts at the day use area. Venture to the western shore to relax on sandy beaches and wake up to picturesque views of the mountains.
Driving time from Bend: 40 minutes
Facilities: Boat ramp at day use area, no water or restrooms
Fees and reservations: $5 Day Pass or NW Forest Pass for parking, no reservations
Open: May-November, depends on winter closure of Cascade Lake Scenic Byway
Fall River Campground
Right outside of La Pine and thirty miles south of Bend, find a quiet campsite on the Fall River. The stream is spring-fed stream and flows into the Deschutes. There are twelve spacious sites situated near the water. The river is shallow, yet some of the clearest water in the area and well-known for fly fishing. The Fall River Trail starts at the campground, offering fantastic fly fishing and two-mile out and back loop. If looking to swim at South Twin Lake, pitching a tent at Fall River and making day trips to the lake is a great way to beat the South Twin crowds.
Driving time: 40 minutes
Facilities: Toilets but no running water, campfire rings and picnic tables
Fees and reservations: $10 per night for the first vehicle and $5 for each additional vehicle, reserve in advance online
The Bivy @ Smith Rock
Live the dirtbag dream and pitch your tent next to the breathtaking 500-foot walls at Smith Rock. A short walk from the rocks, this site yields climbers and hikers alike from all corners of the world. While Smith Rock is a world-renowned climbing spot, it has an elaborate trail system also making it a destination for hikers. In addition to the exquisite views and convenience, this site boasts full restrooms, showers and drinking water. Campfires are not allowed due to high fire risk, however, picnic tables are scattered throughout the site to cook on. Sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure to come early in the busy in the busy summer months.
Driving time: 45 minutes
Facilities: Restrooms, shower ($2 for non-campers), water, recharging station
Fees and reservations: $8 per person per night, includes a parking pass for next day, available on a first-come, first-served basis
This often overlooked campsite is tucked in the diverse conifer forest on the south end of Elk Lake. With thirty-two sites, many of which are suitable for large groups, it is this popular Cascade Lake’s largest campground. It is also the only the lake’s only campsite tucked away from the highway, giving it a feeling of tranquility and serenity. The site provides easy access to both Elk Lake and the family-friendly cove, Little Fawn. A quick paddle brings you to the larger lake where you can enjoy beautiful mountain views. Relax on the beaches at Little Fawn and enjoy water warmer and shallower than the larger lake. Little Fawn’s water level varies dramatically depending on the snow year, so be prepared for more of a marsh on low snow years.
Driving time: 50 minutes
Facilities: Single-family and group sites, tent and RV camping, but no electrical hookups, restrooms and drinking water, picnic tables and campfires rings
Fees and reservations: $16 for the first vehicle and $8 for each additional vehicle, reserve in advance
Open: June to September
The local swimming hole for Sisters residents, Scout Lake has a small ten-site campground. With both single-family and group sites, the campground is popular, so claim one of the smaller sites or make reservations early and bring the whole family. The site is located adjacent to the day use area where you can take a dip in the warm water and relax on sandy shores. Dogs are not allowed in the day use area, so consider leaving your furry friend at home. For sanitation and safety concerns, Scout Lake is one of the few recreation sites in the Deschutes National Forest where dogs are not allowed.
Driving time: 50 minutes
Facilities: Restrooms and drinking water, picnic tables and campfires rings
Fees and reservations: Minimum $18 per night, reserve online in advance
Open: May to September
Cool off in Oregon’s coldest river at Riverside Campground along the Metolius River. Upstream from Camp Sherman and the majority of the other campgrounds, this site is tent-only and one of the lesser-developed sites on this river, adding to its allure; it is one of the more remote and tranquil campgrounds on this river. The site is approximately 100 yards set back from the river but still yields anglers from all over. The spring-fed river features rainbow trout, whitefish, bull trout and kokanee salmon. Hiking trails are also accessible from this location.
Driving time: 50 minutes
Facilities: Toilets but no running water, picnic table and campfire ring with grill, tents only
Fees and reservations: $12/first vehicle; $6/each additional vehicle, reserve in advance online
Open: May to October
You can wade in the water from your campsite at Little Crater Campground on Paulina Lake, nestled in the Newberry Volcano’s caldera. Pitch a tent or bring the entire rig—there’s room. With this site’s close proximity to mountain biking on the Newberry Crater Rim Trail and the short hike to lakeside geothermal hot springs combined with opportunities to boat, swim or fish, there are activities for the entire family. In the busy summer months, this site is in high demand, so make sure to make reservations early. If this campground is full, try Paulina Lake Campground on the lake’s southwest shore.
Driving time: 1 hour
Facilities: Restrooms and drinking water, picnic tables and campfires rings, boat ramp
Fees and reservations: $16 per night, reserve online in advance
Open: May to September
With sixteen campsites weaving along the Lower Crooked River Wild and Scenic stretch, the Chimney Rock Campground, located outside of Prineville, offers year-round views of steep basalt canyons and highly sought-after fly fishing. Among the nine campsites on this eight-mile stretch of federally protected water, this is the only campsite with both potable water and restrooms. The Chimney Rock Trailhead is adjacent to the campground, leading to a 2.6-mile round trip hike providing breathtaking views of the canyon and surrounding mountains.
Driving time: 1 hour
Facilities: Restrooms and drinking water, group sites
Fees and reservations: Available on first-come, first-serve basis, camping fees apply