We’re all familiar with Shakespearian pondering, “to be, or not to be, that is the question.”  But if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you don’t truly feel alive until you spend a weekend in the woods! Whether that be camping, glamping or a mixture of the two, the summer doesn’t feel quite complete until we spend some time in nature.

So, as the days grow longer and the sun begins to peak out from behind the gray clouds, it is only natural for the Oregon native (or transplant) to begin the process of planning these much needed, highly sought after, family camping trips.  We all know that sites fill up fast around here (weekends at some of our favorites spots are already booked for the summer) so it is essential to start the reservation process early.

There are many different experiences one might look for when choosing a spot.  For some, good hiking is a must, others might seek out a spot near the water, where they can laize about on a sandy beach, still others look to get lost in the woods with minimal cell service and campsites that are well spread out. Below you can read about some of our favorite spots, each one with a little different appeal.

Fort Stevens State Park

This is a great place to camp during the summer.  It’s probably the fanciest camping we do as the sites we book here have electricity and water at each site.  They also have flushing toilets and hot showers close by.  

There are so many things to do here as well.  You can explore the historic military fort or check out the old shipwreck down at the beach. There’s also swimming and fishing to be done at the freshwater lakes.  It’s so easy to get around as they have nine miles of paved bike paths and walking trails. We always load up all of our bikes from home but if you’re unable to fit all of that gear in your car then you can rent bikes on site.

You can learn more about this area here.

Timothy Lake

We heard whisperings about Timothy Lake for years before we finally had a chance to check it out ourselves.  Nestled in the forests of Mt. Hood, Timothy Lake does not disappoint. There are Seven different campgrounds to choose from but we like to go to Oak Fork. They have drive-up and hike in tent sites as well as six cabins you can rent.  They have vault toilets and drinking water on the campgrounds but if you’re looking for hot showers or running water, this is not the place for you (we find hand sanitizer wipes work well to keep us clean).

As for activities to partake in, there are miles and miles of hiking trails in the area. The lake itself provides plenty of entertainment as well.  You can boat or kayak on the water as there are multiple boat ramps to launch from. If you don’t have a water craft, you spend the day swimming and floating on the lake.  We took rafts and innertubes up with us along with a lot of sunscreen. You are up in the mountains, so the sun is a bit more intense. Make sure to apply and reapply as the day goes on.  We found this to be a beautiful area with a lot to offer.

You can learn more about this area here.

Panther Creek 

Panther Creek campground is one of those lovely hidden gems! It is located near Carson, Washington in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  There’s no cell service available so it is a wonderful spot to get away from the world. The sites are spread out nicely and it almost feels as if you’re out there by yourself. It is fairly primitive with vault toilets and potable water. There is a camp host who brings around firewood (for a small fee) and can give you advice on the area.

As for things to do, there is amazing hiking in the area.  You can access the Pacific Crest Trail nearby as well as Panther Creek falls (which is definitely worth the hike to see the majestic waterfall).  We typically get out for a hike early and then just hang around the campgrounds. The spots are so spread out that the kids can explore the woods next to our site without imposing on other campers. We make a point to walk to the creek where the kids can fish or just splash around and play in the water. Either way, Panther Creek never disappoints.

You can learn more about this area here.