The following campgrounds are under the jurisdiction of the Willamette National Forest, McKenzie Ranger District (info 541/822-3381, www.fs.fed.us/r6/willamette; reservations 877/444-6777, www.recreation.gov). Many are along the beautiful McKenzie River National Recreation Trail.
Its prime location halfway between Eugene and Bend also helps make the area a popular vacation spot during the summer, so advance reservations should be made at least five days in advance. Sites at most of these campgrounds run $12–18 per night; those without piped-in water tend to be free.
A half-mile west of McKenzie Bridge on Route 126 is the 20-site riverside McKenzie Bridge Campground. Piped well water, vault toilets, and a boat launch are provided. East of McKenzie Bridge about 3 miles on Route 126 is Paradise Campground. Although there are 64 tent/RV (up to 40 feet) campsites, flush and vault toilets, and piped water, only half of the sites are in premium riverside locations. The summer trout fishing here can be very good, and the fireplace grills and wooden tables make it easy to cook and eat a fresh-caught meal. Welcome to paradise!
Olallie Campground is 11 miles from McKenzie Bridge on Route 126 and has 17 sites. Olallie is situated on the banks of the McKenzie River; boating, fishing, and hiking are some of the nearby attractions. Piped water, vault toilets, and picnic tables are provided.
A couple of miles past Olallie on Route 126 is Trailbridge Campground, located on the north shore of Trailbridge Reservoir. Piped water, vault and flush toilets, and picnic tables are provided at this 26-site campground. Boat docks are close by, and the reservoir is noted for its good trout fishing. This campground is first-come, first-served and not on the reservation system; it is open June–October.
Another ideal campground for boating enthusiasts is Lake’s End on nearby Smith Reservoir. One of the few boat-in campgrounds in Oregon, this park can only be reached via a 2-mile sail across the lake. To get there, take Route 126 for 12 miles northeast of McKenzie Bridge, turn left, and follow Forest Service Road 730 two miles to the south end of the reservoir. Boat across to the north shore for camping. Be sure to take along plenty of water, because the campground does not provide any. You will find, however, picnic tables, vault toilets, and plenty of peace and quiet away from the cars and traffic of the other mainstream parks. Lake’s End is open May–September and has no fees or reservations.
On the south shore of Clear Lake, 19 miles northeast of McKenzie Bridge on Route 126, is Coldwater Cove Campground. Piped water, vault toilets, and picnic tables are provided at this 35-site park, open mid-May–mid-October. Clearlake Resort (541/967-3917, www.co.linn.or.us/parks/) is adjacent to the campground and has a store, a summer-only café, and rustic cabins ($64 and up, bring cooking utensils and bedding), as well as boat docks, launches, and rentals. Small electric fishing-boat motors are the only mechanical means of propulsion allowed here by the Forest Service. The road to the resort closes at the end of September; guests can hike in to rustic cabins during the winter.
A handful of small campgrounds dot Route 242, the old McKenzie Pass road, but none have piped water. In the same area, RVers should take note of Camp Yale (58980 Rte. 242, McKenzie Bridge, 541/822-3512), which is operated by nearby Belknap Hot Springs. It is open all year, with full hookups (water, sewer, and electricity) for $35; there are no tent sites. Modern restrooms with hot-water showers are on-site. Camp Yale also offers the only public dump station between Springfield and Sisters.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel