Camping Near the Clackamas River

Clackamas River Camping

Finding campgrounds that are close in to Portland and are not full by 5pm on a Friday evening is a tricky task these days.  With the recent surge of social media campsites are no longer “secret” and more and more people are flocking to the mountains to get away from city life for a day or two.  This makes finding a campsite without making reservations very difficult.

The Clackamas River is a great area to explore and find new campgrounds you may not have known previously existed.  What makes the Clackamas River area so great for camping is the abundance of campgrounds in the area.  If the campground you were planning on staying at happens to be full, you can just keep driving up the river until you reach the next campground.  Chances are good you are eventually going to find a place that is not full even if you have to venture far up the river.  The campgrounds go on and on up the river and it makes this area an awesome place for a spontaneous trip.

With all these campgrounds in one area it can be hard to choose a good one so we are going to highlight our 10 favorite campgrounds on or near the Clackamas River.

Map of Campgrounds on the Clackamas River

10 Campgrounds near the Clackamas River

Riverside Campground

  • Distance from Portland: 1 hour, 15 mins
  • Number of Campsites: 16
riverside-campgroundRiverside Campground is located a ways up the Clackamas River just past the ranger station about an hour and fifteen minutes from Portland. This fabulous campground rests along the edge of the Clackamas River and most campsites enjoy a river’s edge view. At night you can cozy up next to a crackling fire with the sound of rocks tumbling down the river behind you. The far end of the campground offers an nice swimming area though the water is fairly cold no matter what time of the year you visit. This is a popular campsite for folks visiting Bagby Hot Springs or looking to hike in the area. Check online as this campground fills up with reservations early. Learn More…

Lazy Bend Campground

  • Distance from Portland: 1 hour
  • Number of Campsites: 21
lazy-bend-campgroundLazy Bend Campground is the closest campground on the Clackamas River to Portland and as such tends to fill up very quickly during peak season weekends and holidays. With 21 campsites Lazy Bend Campground is situated on the Clackamas River with river access set back about 50 to 100 yards away. There is a large rocky area where you can relax on the river and if you are a seasoned river swimmer you can take a dip in the chilly Clackamas. This is a great campground for those looking to spend the day on on a boat on the North Fork Reservoir as it is just a short 10 minute drive away.Learn More…

Indian Henry Campground

  • Distance from Portland: 1 hour 20 min
  • Number of Campsites: 86
Creek through campIndian Henry Campground is the largest of all the Campgrounds in the Clackamas River area and features 86 campsites with average overnight fees in the $14 a night range. The campground is also near the Clackamas River and offers some river access though the majority of the campgrounds are set back from the river. Right next to the campground is the Indian Henry Trailhead which is the start of the Clackamas River Trail – an excellent hike with views of Pup Creek Falls. In general Indian Henry Campground will be fairly crowded and a little more claustrophobic feeling than other campgrounds near the Clackamas River. Learn More…

Carter Bridge Campground

  • Distance from Portland: 1 hour 30 min
  • Number of Campsites: 15
carter-bridge-campgroundCarter Bridge Campground is located pretty darn close to the Clackamas River and depending on the time of the year can offer decent swimming though the current can be fairly swift here. As the name states the campground is located right next to Carter Bridge and has 15 campsites though many of them are very small and right on top of eachother. Carter Bridge Campground is also located very close to the highway and as such you can expect to hear cars during your stay here. Learn More…

Roaring River Campground

  • Distance from Portland: 1 hour 10 min
  • Number of Campsites: 14
roaring-river-campgroundRoaring River campground is located on the opposite side of the highway from the Clackamas River however does sit near the edge of – you guess it – Roaring River. This is a much small river than the Clackamas but still offers the nice sound of running water at night and place to cool off during the hotter summer months. There are a few campgrounds that actually butt up next to the river but for those that don’t it is a short walk down to the water. For hikers Dry Ridge Trailhead is located in the campground for easy access. Learn More…

Sunstrip Campground

  • Distance from Portland: 1 hour 15 min
  • Number of Campsites: 9
SunstripSunstrip Campground is a small little campground located on the edge of the Clackamas River with just 9 campsites in it. It offers good access to the river at a point where the current isn’t terribly strong and there is plenty of rocky beach access. The campsites are small and many of them are sloped making it a little difficult to pitch more than a few tents in each. The sites are shaded and there are a few great sites that are private and some that have little to no privacy. Learn More…

River Ford Campground

  • Distance from Portland: 1 hour 30 min
  • Number of Campsites: 10
riverford-campgroundRiver Ford Campground is located fairly far up HWY 224 from Estacada and sits at the junction of the Collowash and Clackamas Rivers. It is a small campground with just 10 sites and a few of them sitting right near the river edge offering great access to a more shallow river area. This is an excellent choice for camping if you are wanting to visit Baby Hot Springs as it is very close. Be sure to bring your own water as there is none here. Learn More…

Rainbow Campground

  • Distance from Portland: 1 hour 25 min
  • Number of Campsites: 18
rainbow-campgroundRainbow Campground is a nice little campground located on the Oak Grove Fork Clackamas River which is more like a stream than an actual river. Even so, it is a nice stream with a few small swimming holes with many shaded areas. The campground is situated a ways up from the Clackamas River and access to it would require either a short drive or a walk. Rainbow Campground has drinking water and is close to Bagby Hot Springs and many other recreational activities in the area.Learn More…

Ripplebrook Campground

  • Distance from Portland: 1 hour 25 min
  • Number of Campsites: 13
ripplebrook-campgroundRipplebrook Campground is an excellent campground that is situated on the edge of the Oak Grove Fork Clackamas River which is a small stream with a few decent swimming holes on it. The majority of the campsites here are located on the edge of the river providing good water access and a nice place to cool off. The campsites are fairly private with only a few on the non river side of the road. Ripplebrook Campground is located very close to the Ripplebrook Ranger Station for quick access to ice and other last minute items. Learn More…

Armstrong Campground

  • Distance from Portland: 1 hour 10 min
  • Number of Campsites: 11
armstrong-campgroundArmstrong Campground is a small campground with 11 sites and about half of them situated near the edge of the Clackamas River. The campground is close in and as such will likely fill up quickly during the busier weekends and holidays. Many of the sites at Armstrong Campground have water access however to get to the river you must climb down a steep embankment and there isn’t much of a “lounge” area nearby. Learn More…

Things to do Near the Clackamas River

Hike to a Waterfall

  • Waterfall: Pup Creek Falls
pup-creek-fallsPup Creek Falls is a 237 ft waterfall located off the Clackamas River Trail near the Clackamas River. You can reach the files by hiking either an out and back hike from the Indian Henry Trailhead or doing a one way shuttle hike. This falls is a stunning and isolated waterfall that really takes you to what feels like the middle of nowhere. Well worth the effort.Learn More…

Visit a Swimming Hole

There are so many great places to swim on the Clackamas River it would require its own article but here a few places worth checking out. Big Eddy Day use area is a very easy to access swimming hole right on the Clackamas River and is plenty deep and not too swift. Another great spot is called “the narrows” but you will have to figure out where that one is on your own. Alder Flat is also another spot that is good for swimming on the Clackamas and many of the campgrounds have nearby swimming holes as well. Don’t forget to venture away from the river and check out many of the nearby lakes for swimming too like Lake Harriet, Buck Lake and Hideaway Lake!

Soak in a Hot Spring

Bagby Hot Springs is one of the more famous “free” hot springs near Portland and justifiably so. With its wood carved soaking tubs nestled in the quiet woods far up the Clackamas River Bagby is certainly a place you will want to visit on a cool day. Another hot springs that is actually right next to the Clackamas River is Austin Hot Springs.

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