The Pacific Northwest is known for coffee, rain, and Bigfoot. You're sure to find the first two and maybe glimpse the third in the Deschutes National Forest. Located in central Oregon just outside of Bend, Deschutes National Forest hosts hundreds of day hiking trails. Many of these trails hook up with other trails, such as the Pacific Crest Trail, creating an almost limitless variety of routes. Horseback riding and mountain biking are allowed on many of these trails. Nestled in the Cascade Mountains, the area offers numerous lakes as well as lava tubes and other volcanic formations.
Deschutes National Forest covers 1.6 million acres, and an RV is a great way to cover ground. This forest has more than 80 campgrounds that are divided into six regions, so with an RV, you can travel the area and experience each section's unique views and vibes. RVshare makes renting an RV easy and fun.
If you need to get away from it all, this might be the campground for you. Boundary Springs Campground is in the Crescent Area and is surrounded by lodgepole and ponderosa pine. Usage for this campground is light, and there is no fee for camping. They don't do reservations, and you can almost always find a spot. The campground accommodates RVs up to 50 feet. One caveat: This campground does not have hookups. It features vault toilets, and there is no potable water. This site is used mainly by hunters and ATV enthusiasts.
North Davis Creek Campground in the Cascades Lakes Area has 14 sites. It can accommodate RVs up to 26 feet. Usage is light, and the spots are secluded, so it's a great getaway for smaller RVs. The site has a boat ramp for access to Wickiup Reservoir. Unfortunately, the boat ramp is not available in the fall as water levels are too low. The rate is only $14 per night.
If you're interested in hiking, biking, fishing, and swimming, check out Tumalo State Park Campground, situated in Tumalo State Park. This year-round campground features hot showers, picnic tables, and a playground. They have 23 full hookup sites to accommodate RVs up to 56 feet. Rates start around $33 per night, and they offer a reduced weekly rate. You can also buy firewood on site. You can reserve a spot up to six months in advance.
For those who like a lot of amenities, the Bend/Sisters Garden RV Resort might be your kind of place. They have earned a 5-Star Good Sam rating and are on our list of Top 10 campgrounds in Bend. Fully paved sites have full hookups, and they offer pull-through sites that accommodate rigs up to 80 feet. Winter rates start at $44 per night, and summer rates start at $66 per night. The long list of amenities includes a laundry room, luxury bathhouses, a convenience store, and a propane station. You'll enjoy basic cable, basic Wi-Fi, and a seasonal pool. The sites are landscaped, and dog run areas let the four-legged friends get their energy out.
This series of trails goes through pine forests, lava flows, and riparian zones. Some areas of the Deschutes River are mild, and others are tumultuous. This is one of the more popular hikes. Dogs are allowed but must remain on the leash. You can access this trail via several trailheads. Parking does require a recreation pass.
Intensity: 11.1 miles
This lightly traveled trail offers plenty of shade for summer hikes. In spring, the wildflowers are abundant. The trail gains a modest 100 feet in elevation. It does pass through the Three Sisters Wilderness, so you will need a wilderness area permit.
Length: 1 mile
A plus for this hike is that it is only available to hikers, so you won't be crowded off the trail by mountain bikes or horses. It starts at 6,200 feet elevation and gains 1,500 feet. For wildlife, don't be surprised if you see mountain goats. Seasonally, the area explodes with wildflowers.
Length: 1.7 miles
Intensity: Easy to Moderate
This trail only gains 280 feet in elevation. It passes by scenic Matthieu Lake. Seasonally, expect to see wildflowers. It can get a little dusty during dry months. Dogs are allowed on a leash.
Length: 1.3 miles
This trail passes through the Three Sisters Wilderness, so you will need a wilderness area permit. You'll pass by small streams, lakes, and lava features. What you're unlikely to pass is people as this is a lightly used trail.
Length: 3.9 miles
The trail starts at an elevation of 4,800 feet and gains 1,640 feet. The trail passes through Ponderosa pines and then a mixed conifer forest. The upper portion has subalpine vegetation. The views during the second mile of this hike are stunning, making the steep climb worth the effort.
Length: 2 miles
This trail is not for the faint of heart. It winds through the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. You'll come across forest, desert, and mountains. The elevation ranges between 6,330 and 7,600 feet.
Length: 21 miles
Within the Deschutes National Forest lie five different wilderness areas. Each area has its own unique landscapes and activities. You can also drive one of the three scenic byways. Each season offers outdoor recreation opportunities.
The Newberry National Volcanic Monument is home to the highest peak in Deschutes National Forest, Paulina Peak, which reaches 7,985 feet. With more than 54,000 acres in this national monument, you can explore lakes, lava flows, and other remarkable geological formations. The volcano is still active with seismic and geothermal activity. Be sure to visit the Lava Lands Visitor Center and the Lava River Cave Interpretive Site.
Rockhounds are drawn to the Deschutes National Forest. Fossil collecting is allowed within a national forest with some restrictions.
The forest is also popular for geocaching. Just remember that protected wilderness areas have a policy of "leave only footprints." Please be careful of where you are if you are placing a geocache.
Besides biking and hiking, this national forest is open to horseback riding and has numerous horse camps and trails.
For water activities, depending on the lake, you can enjoy fishing, boating, waterskiing, swimming, and windsurfing.
Hunting is allowed seasonally in some areas.
The Oregon Observatory is located within Deschutes National Forest. They have one of the largest collections of public viewing telescopes. They have a whole host of activities, including star parties and private family experiences.
Deschutes National Forest also offers plenty of winter recreation. Mt. Bachelor offers skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and tubing. In other areas, you can snowshoe, cross-country ski, and enjoy snowmobiling.
Address: 63095 Deschutes Market Rd, Bend, OR 97701
Fee: Entry fee (per vehicle) $5
With over a million acres, Deschutes National Forest offers plenty of room to stretch out and relax. Whether fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking, or just lazing around the lake, an RV lets you stay and indulge as long as you like.