15 EPIC Campgrounds Near Bend, Oregon (2023)

15 EPIC Campgrounds Near Bend, Oregon (1)

As avid hikers, my adventurous husband and I spend our fair share of time camping in Bend Oregon.

We’ve hiked almost every single trail in Bend (yes, really) and recently shared a list of our 15 favorite hikes, which seemed to be a big hit (thank you!).

After that post, several readers reached out and asked for Bend camping recommendations as well, so today I’ll be doing just that.

The campgrounds near Bend are some of my favorite in the country and for a nominal fee (typically $15-20 per night) you can escape the bustle of the city and soak in the breathtaking alpine landscape Bend is known for.

With that said, let’s cover the best camping near Bend.

Tips for Camping Near Bend Oregon

Practice Leave No Trace
You + Sunscreen = Best Friends (Forever)
  • I swear bythissunscreen, I discovered it in France and now buy it in bulk. It works like a charm and doesn’t leave strange residue or smells, you’ll NEVER catch me without it!
Hiking permits are required at certain trails
  • The natural areas near Bend have seen a 300% increase in recreational use in the past five years. In an effort to mitigate the damaging impacts of overuse, permits are required at certain trailheads starting May 28, 2021. Read more here.
Check to see if a trail is open before heading out
  • If you plan to camp near Bend with the hopes of hiking a trail make sure to call the Forest Service for real-time updates before heading out. Trust me, I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ll be the first to admit I’ve made this mistake. Nature is wild, things happen.

Essential Bend Camping Gear

This post may contain affiliate links. I don’t accept sponsorships on this site, so all of my experiences are paid for out of pocket. If you make a purchase using one of the links I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

As I mentioned earlier, we’re avid hikers and spend most of our summers camping (we love it!). Over the past five years we’ve finely honed our list of camping gear essentials.

Here’s the things we NEVER leave the house without.

Camping stove
  • This is the only camping stove we use. We’re on our second one after the first one wore out after 4+ years of constant use. For a mere $45 it’s impossible to beat. For longer trips (2-4 weeks) we use this camping stove.
Jetboil
  • I’m guessing the uber-famous Jetboil needs no introduction, it’s an essential camping item for anyone that can’t function without coffee (raises hand). We’ve been using ours for nine years and would probably buy one on the road if we left ours at home.
Our tent
  • We don’t get too fancy with our tents, here’s the one we’ve been using the past two years. It’s light, unfussy, inexpensive and gets the job done. What more could you ask for?
Hammocks, sleeping bags and sleeping mats, oh my!
  • Again, nothing too fancy here either. Here’s my reliable sleeping bag, sleeping mat and hammock. I usually bring a pillow from home while camping but if you prefer to have an actual camping pillow, knock yourself out!
Camping chair
  • My cousin got me hooked on these tiny camping chairs and they are an absolute game changer because I hate bulky camping gear. These are lightweight and compact, highly recommend if you need camping chairs otherwise use what you have!

1. Sparks Lake Campground

15 EPIC Campgrounds Near Bend, Oregon (2)

Sparks Lake is easily the most beautiful lake in Bend, if not all of Oregon, which is why the highly coveted Sparks Lake Campground clocks in as my personal favorite campsite near Bend.

Offering sweeping views of South Sister, Mount Bachelor and Broken Top, this picture-perfect lake is home to one of the most scenic campsites, but that’s not even the best part.

You ready for this? The epic Bend campsite is completely free.

You read that right, this is one of the few free campgrounds in Bend and since there’s only twenty dispersed sites to choose from, you can imagine how quickly they get snatched up.

All twenty campsites are conveniently located right off the road that wraps around the lake.

But I don’t want to fool you, securing one of these campsites requires a miracle because advanced reservations are not available.

The vehicle-accessible sites fill up first, but you have the option of crossing the lake (canoe, kayak, paddle-board) with your gear to one of the unfrequented sites further from the day use area.

Talk about adventure!

At the end of the day, this is one of the most beautiful campsites in Bend and it’s completely worth the effort. I’m telling you, nothing beats sunrise (and sunset) over Sparks Lake.

Activities: Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, hiking

Sparks Lake Campground near Bend Oregon
  • Distance from Bend: 35 minutes | 28 miles
  • Camping sites: 20
  • Fee: Free to camp, $5 parking fee (if you don’t have a NW Forest Pass)
  • Campground amenities: Boat ramp, no toilets or running water
  • Campground popularity: High

2. Elk Lake Campground

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Image courtesy of Outdoor Project

Situated on the shoreline of Elk Lake is a campground by the same name.

Removed from the city by a 40-minute drive, this Bend campground is ideal for anyone looking to disconnect for a while.

The striking Deschutes National Forest make a perfect backdrop, will offering unobstructed views of Mt. Bachelor and South Sister.

The crystal-clear lake is welcoming to anyone bold enough to take a dip (I found it rather chilly, personally) and there’s plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife or go birding.

The rustic campsites offer the bare essentials like vault toilets, fire grills, picnic tables and potable water. With scenic views and good campground amenities, it’s not hard to see why this is one of the most popular campgrounds in Bend.

If helpful, campsites are pet-friendly but dogs cannot swim in the lake.

Activities: Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, paddle-boarding, hiking, horseback riding.

Elk Lake Campground near Bend Oregon
  • Distance from Bend: 40 minutes | 33 miles
  • Camping sites: 17 sites, tent camping only
  • Fee: $15 + $2 surcharge during holidays
  • Campground amenities: Vault toilets (no-flush), campfire ring with grill, picnic table, potable water, boat ramp
  • Campground popularity: High

If you’re interested in camping at the Elk Lake Campground, try to book in advance to ensure you get a spot because these Bend campsites go quickly. Reservations can be made online.

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3. North Waldo Lake Campground

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North Waldo Lake Campground is located on the shores of one of the purest lakes in the world (nearly as pure as distilled water), Waldo Lake.

Officially the second largest freshwater lake in state, there’s no better place to camp in Central Oregon if you rely on lakes to survive the summer months.

The wild Cascade Mountains offer a stunning backdrop to this high-elevation campground near Bend and thankfully it’s easily accessible by car.

I consider this one of my favorite campsites near Bend because Waldo Lake is an impressive site.

Reaching depths of 420 feet, Waldo Lake it the third deepest lake in Oregon (after Crater Lake and Detroit Lake). It swells with divers and swimmers during the warm summer months because the lake’s clarity allows divers to see to impressive depths of 120 feet.

To preserve the purity of the water, motorized boats were banned in 2010. So we spent the day in floats and hammocks to the sound of nature and nothing more – it was heavenly.

North Waldo Lake Campground near Bend
  • Distance from Bend: 1.5 hours / 81 miles
  • Camping sites: 58 sites for tents and RVs
  • Fee: $21 – $40
  • Campground amenities: Boat ramp, drinking water (during peak season), vault toilets, campfire ring, picnic table
  • Campground popularity: High
  • Reservations: Click here to reserve this Bend campground from June 25th – September 18th, all other times are first come-first served.

Activities: Kayaking, canoeing, boating (non-motorized boats only), swimming, hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving

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4. Fall River Campground

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Image courtesy of Outdoor Project

If you’re looking for beautiful campgrounds near Bend, look no further than the Fall River Campground located on the banks of the — wait for it — Fall River.

If you’re an avid fly-fisher chances are good you already know about this gem.

Offering only 12 campsites, this secluded campground near Bend is on the smaller side (without RV hookups) which makes it an ideal escape for campers seeking a more laid-back, low-key and rustic camping experience.

At the Fall River Campground the rushing sound of the river will lull you to sleep and the cacophony of birdsong will serve as your alarm.

Activities: Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, hiking

Fall River Campground near Bend
  • Distance from Bend: 35 minutes | 30 miles
  • Camping sites: 12 tent sites
  • Fee: $12 – $15 per night
  • Campground popularity: Moderate, fills up quickly around dusk
  • Campground amenities: Picnic table, campfire ring with grill and vault toilets. No running water.

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5. Smiling River Campground

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Located right on the beloved Metolius River (the coldest river in Oregon), famous for fly-fishing and its striking blue color, Smiling River Campground is a wonderful spot to pitch a tent and cast a line.

This campground offers both tent and RV camping near Bend but hookups are not available.

If you choose to camp here don’t plan to spend much time at your campsite because the recreational opportunities are endless.

Fly fishing, trails that meander through ponderosa pines, a mesmerizing river and serene surrounding forests are all ripe for exploration at this campground.

Hike up to Wizard Falls along the Metolius River to see water flow out of the hillside and into the river.

If you visit during the fall season (like we did) you’ll notice the trees ablaze with fall color. The fall foliage along the river bank is downright breathtaking and one of the best spots in Bend for fall color.

Activities: Fly-fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking

Smiling River Campground near Bend
  • Distance from Bend: 1 hour | 39 miles
  • Camping sites: 36 tent + RV sites
  • Fee: $18 – $20
  • Campground popularity: Moderate-High
  • Campground amenities: Flush toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, fire pits
  • Reservations: Online reservations available, read more here.

6. Crane Prairie Campground

15 EPIC Campgrounds Near Bend, Oregon (7)

Image courtesy of Greg Vaughn/Flickr

Comfortably nestled into the Deschutes National Forest you’ll find Crane Prairie Campground — one of the yet another epic Bend campground thanks to the scenic views, serene feel and abundant recreational opportunities.

Offering numerous tents and RV sites, this beautiful campground is located near the shores of the Crane Prairie Reservoir.

It’s a great spot for bird watching and spotting wildlife, plus the views of South Sister and Mt. Bachelor are some of the best.

One of the biggest perks of camping at Crane Prairie is the nearby resort, marina and general store (with showers!) adding convenience to your stay.

Crane River Campground near Bend
  • Distance from Bend: 45 minutes | 37 miles
  • Camping sites: 146
  • Fee: $18 – $20 per night
  • Campground amenities: Vault toilets, drinking water, campfire rings with grills and picnic tables
  • Campground popularity: Moderate-High
  • Reservations: Read more here

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7. Paulina Lake Campground

15 EPIC Campgrounds Near Bend, Oregon (8)

Image courtesy of Outdoor Project

If you’re looking for a family-friendly campground near Bend, then the Paulina Lake Campground is sure to fit the bill.

Located within the caldera of the Newberry Volcano (how cool is that?) this idyllic campground near Bend is best known for its geological significance.

Sitting at an impressive 6,350 feet above sea level, this campsite is popular for its breathtaking volcanic landscape, panoramic alpine views and diverse expansive forests.

Thankfully there’s plenty of incredible recreation activities to choose from so you can explore the landscape up close, especially if you love the water.

The wifi connection in this campground near Bend is notoriously nightmarish.

But let’s get real, you’re probably camping to disconnect so strap up your trusty hiking boots and enjoy one of the numerous hiking trails.

Or take your mountain bike for a spin on the popular Newberry Crater Rim Trail or spend the hours birding and/or fishing — the adventure is up to you!

Activities: Hiking, swimming, fishing, birding, boating, mountain biking

Paulina Lake Campground near Bend
  • Distance from Bend: 1.5 hours | 45 miles
  • Camping sites: 69 sites for tents + RVs
  • Fee: $18
  • Campground amenities: Flush toilets, drinking water, campfire rings with grills, boat ramp and picnic tables.
  • Campground popularity: Moderate-High
  • Reservations: Online reservations accepted June 11 – September 26, 2021 (read more here)
  • Pet friendly? Yes

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8. Cultus Lake Campground

15 EPIC Campgrounds Near Bend, Oregon (9)

Image courtesy of Oregon Best Camping

Cultus Lake Campground is a true gem and because it’s further removed from Bend than some of the other campgrounds mentioned on this list, it feels like a little secret camping spot in Central Oregon.

That’s not to say it’s unpopular though! The campground has 55 campsites and can accommodate tents, trailers and RVs under 30 feet long.

The campsites are tucked into the shade of a healthy pine-forest canopy and rest along the river’s shore – making this an ideal campsite near Bend to escape the thick summer heat.

Fishing, boating, hiking, and swimming are all popular activities at Cultus Lake Campground. What’s more, the Cultus Lake Resort adds extra convenience to this great camping spot.

Cultus Lake Campground near Bend Oregon
  • Distance from Bend: 50 minutes | 39 miles
  • Camping sites: 55
  • Fee: $22- $25
  • Campground amenities: Boat ramp + dock, firepit, vault toilets, water spigot, picnic tables
  • Bend Campground popularity: Moderate
  • Pet friendly? Yes

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9. Lava Lake Campground

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In my opinion, the Lava Lake Campground is possibly one of the most scenic campgrounds in Central Oregon. But let’s get real, anything that touches the jaw-dropping Cascade Lake Scenic Byway is bound to impress.

Conveniently situated between Lava Lake and Little Lava Lake, this Bend campground is the perfect spot for water activities like fishing, boating, kayaking and paddle-boarding.

If you prefer to stay on dry land, hit one of the numerous nearby hiking trails, go mountain biking or watch horseback riders.

Nearby Lava Lake Lodge has great prices on boat rentals and conveniences for campers, always a perk!

Lava Lake Campground near Bend
  • Distance from Bend: 45 minutes | 33 miles
  • Camping sites: 44 sites, some are tent only others can accommodate small RVs
  • Fee: $18
  • Campground amenities: Picnic tables and fire rings
  • Popularity: High

10. Devil’s Lake Campground

15 EPIC Campgrounds Near Bend, Oregon (11)

Image courtesy of Reddit

Situated at 5446 feet of elevation on the banks of glorious Devil’s Lake, this free campground in Bend is an absolute treat.

Devil’s Lake is one of the shallowest lakes off the Cascade Scenic Byway (the maximum depth is a mere 9 feet) which makes it one of the warmest lakes near Bend.

The shallowness of this lake gives way to striking hues of vibrant greens that never fail to lure campers looking for a relaxing day on the lake.

In terms of rustic camping near Bend, this is as rustic as it gets. There’s only 10 hike-in campsites available on a first-come, first serve basis.

There’s no potable water and vehicles are prohibited on the trails. However, you will hear cars from the nearby Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, so these campsites aren’t as serene as some of the others on the list.

What’s more, this Bend campground gets a decent amount of foot traffic because it’s the most popular route to summit South Sister (typically hiked during the summer months).

Devil’s Lake Campground near Bend
  • Distance from Bend: 40 minutes | 35 miles
  • Camping: 10 sites, tents only
  • Fee: Free, $5 parking fee (if you don’t have a NW Forest Pass)
  • Campground amenities: Dismal, half the sites have picnic tables
  • Popularity: Moderate

11. Soda Creek Campground

15 EPIC Campgrounds Near Bend, Oregon (12)

A half-hour drive from Bend will take you to the Soda Creek Campground is one of prettiest campsites near Bend.

Located just off the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, this campground swells with campers eager to soak the beauty of the Deschutes National Forest.

This campground is located on the shores of Sparks Lake and features breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The location could not be more ideal with close proximity to Mt. Bachelor, Todd Lake, Green River Lakes Trailhead, and more.

Soda Creek Campground near Bend Oregon
  • Distance from Bend: 30 minutes | 26 miles
  • Camping sites: 10
  • Fee: $15
  • Camp amenities: Picnic tables, fire-rings with grills, vault toilets — no potable water.
  • Bend Campground popularity: High

Website: USFS

12. Tumalo State Park Campground

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Tumalo State Park has a great family-friendly campground near Bend, Oregon that swells with adventure enthusiasts during the warm summer months.

Found along the scenic Deschutes River and located a mere 7 miles from Bend, this campground is easily accessible and offers great amenities like flush toilets, showers and ample recreational activities centered around water spots.

Tumalo State Park is a beloved day use site, as a result this Bend campsite fills up quickly!

Also, campers can choose to reserve one of seven yurts at this campsite (two are pet friendly).

As you can imagine, the yurts get reserved at lightning speed, but that doesn’t mean you should try your hand at a reservation!

Tumalo State Park Campground near Bend
  • Distance from Bend: 15 minutes | 7 miles
  • Camping sites: 54 tent sites, 23 RV hookup sites, 7 yurts.
  • Fee: $21 for tents, $36 for RV hookup sites, $61 for yurts
  • Campground amenities: Flush toilets + showers,
  • Campground popularity: High
  • Reservations: All campsites can be reserved one day in advance.
  • Pet friendly? Yes

13. Perry South Campground

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Image courtesy BringFido

Looking for a scenic campground in Central Oregon? Check out Perry South Campground located on Lake Billy Chinook in the Deschutes National Forest.

The scenic beauty of this popular spot draws outdoor-lovers in hordes because of the pristine lake and ample year-round recreational opportunities.

This campsite offers running water, vault toilets and a boat ramp, but Lake Billy Chinook is the start of the show.

Boasting 72 miles of shoreline surrounded by rugged hills and lush evergreen forests, this is a great spot for fishing and viewing wildlife between bonfires and camp songs.

  • Camping sites: 54 tent sites, 23 RV hookup sites, 7 yurts.
  • Fee: $20 for tents, $30 for RV hookup sites, $87 for cabins
  • Campground amenities: Vault toilets + running water
  • Campground popularity: High
  • Reservations: All campsites can be reserved one day in advance.

14. Jasper Point Campground

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Image courtesy Reserve America

If you consider yourself adventurous but don’t feel like proving a point by camping in Central Oregon without running water and flush toilets, may I suggest Jasper Point Campground?

Located without a canyon, the views breathtaking but the amenities are the best part!

Offering running water, hot showers, flush toilets and a boat ramp, you can easily spend an entire weekend basking in the sun and cooling off with a quick dip.

Effectively making this feel like one of the more luxurious campgrounds near Bend.

  • Fee: $31 for tent site
  • Campground amenities: Flush toilets, hot showers, running water and boat ramp
  • Campground popularity: High
  • Reservations: Campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. More information here.

15. Lower Bridge Campground

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Lower Bridge Campground is often considered the most beautiful campground near Bend.

Situated right off the chilly Metolius River, you’ll find yourself swallowed up by fragrant ponderosa pine and cedars that provide welcome shade during hot summer days.

Campers can spend the daytime fishing or hiking. There’s a lot of scenic hikes to choose from, I especially like the riverside trails during the fall months when the trees are ablaze with fall color.

  • Fee: $25 for tent site
  • Campground amenities: Vault toilets, drinking water, fire pit and boat ramp
  • Campground popularity: High
  • Reservations: Campsites can be reserved in advance, more information here.

Campgrounds Near Bend Oregon (Map)

List of Best Bend Camping Spots

  1. Sparks Lake
  2. Elk Lake Campground
  3. Islet Campground
  4. Fall River Campground
  5. Smiling River Campground
  6. Crane Prairie Campground
  7. Paulina Lake Campground
  8. Cultus Lake Campground
  9. Lava Lake Campground
  10. Devils Lake Campground
  11. Soda Creek Campground
  12. Tumalo State Park
  13. Perry South Campground
  14. Jasper Point Campground
  15. Lower Bridge Campground
Love Oregon? You may find these posts interesting
  • 15 EPIC Things to Do in Bend, Oregon
  • 15 Jaw-Dropping Hikes Near Bend, Oregon
  • 20 Wildly Beautiful Oregon Waterfalls That Are Completely Worth the Hype
  • 12 Legendary Oregon Lakes Perfect for Escaping the Summer Heat

I hope you enjoyed this list of the best campsites in Bend, Oregon.

Choose from lake camping, mountain camping, camping in volcanic areas, desert camping in Bend, river camping, forest camping, and so much more, Bend has it all!

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Until next time,

Antonina

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