There’s no shortage of options for campers in this area. Keep in mind that the western Gorge is Portland’s backyard and can be very crowded, so avoid peak times when possible. In addition to first-come, first-served Ainsworth State Park (503/695-2301 or 800/551-6949, www.oregon.gov/oprd/parks, $14–16), several other sites are worth considering. These have been chosen for their location (near attractions or a prime trailhead) or for special amenities.
Eagle Creek Campground
While the Eagle Creek Campground (541/386-2333, mid-May–Oct., $75–125) can be noisy and crowded, it’s an ideal base camp for hiking as it’s close to several trailheads. Reservations are accepted only for groups at this first campground ever created by the National Forest Service, which dates to the 1930s. There are sites for tents and RVs up to 22 feet long; sites have picnic tables, fire grills, and flush toilets, and sanitary services are available. Eagle Creek is located between Bonneville Dam and Cascade Locks off I-84. At the 7-mile point on the Eagle Creek Trail there’s a free primitive campground, but it fills up on summer weekends.
Herman Horse Camp
Herman Horse Camp (541/386-2333, mid-May–Oct., $10, no reservations) is 0.5 mile east of Cascade Locks, near the Pacific Crest Trail, and 0.5 mile from Herman Creek. A full array of services, including a laundry, a store, a café, and showers are within 2 miles, supplementing the seven tent and RV sites. Piped water, fire grills, picnic tables, and stock-handling facilities are also welcome additions. There are trails for hiking and horse-packing, and other attractions include the historic Forest Work Center and nearby rock walls, where visitors can admire the handiwork of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
At I-84 Exit 51 is the Wyeth Campground ($10), a beautiful and secluded Forest Service site that was used as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the 1930s. Today’s it’s popular as a windsurfing spot and has piped water and flush toilets.
Cascade Locks Marine Park
Cascade Locks Marine Park (P.O. Box 307, Cascade Locks 97014, 541/374-8619, www.portofcascadelocks.org, year-round, $15–25, no reservations) has campsites close to the center of town. The museum and the sternwheeler are housed in the complex. The amenities that are not available on-site are within walking distance.
Finally, two miles east of town near the banks of the Columbia is the Cascade Locks KOA Kampground (841 NW Forest Lane, Cascade Locks 97014, information 541/374-8668, reservations 800/562-8698, Feb.–Nov. 30, $27 tents, $28–36 RVs, $3 each extra person). This private campground features the basics plus a spa (hot tub and sauna), hot showers, and a heated swimming pool. One-room (a queen bed and a bunk bed, $54) or two-room (a queen bed and two sets of bunks, $66) Kamping Kabins are available; bring your own linens, pillows, towels, sleeping bags, etc.).
Kabins fill up quickly, especially on weekends, so reserve well in advance. To get there, take U.S. 30 east from town and turn left onto Forest Lane. Proceed 1.2 miles down, and you’ll see the Kampground on the left.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel