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Car Camping 101 in Portland Oregon

how to prepare to camp in your car

Have you noticed the weather is getting warmer? If you love the great outdoors, it’s time to pull out your camping gear and make sure it’s ready for the season.

Car camping is where you pack up your car with your ice chest full of food, tent, sleeping bags, lanterns and everything else that you want to go from roughing it to glamping. You can even have your car campers and fifth wheels available while you explore the Clackamas river, Columbia river gorge, and many other wonderful places here in Portland.

Once your car is loaded up, it’s time to head to your campground. Most standard campgrounds have areas marked off with numbers, and a place to park your car and set up your tent. Other places offer tent cabins where you can set up your sleeping bags.

Some tents attach to your car allowing you to sleep in the back and off the ground. Larger places offer multiple campgrounds for people with full RV hookups, regular tent camping, and hiking trails for those who love to backpack and really rough it.

How to Get Ready

If you enjoy hiking, make sure your hiking boots are in good condition. You will also want to purchase comfortable socks. If you need to replace your boots, buy them a few weeks ahead of your trip so you can break them in.

Update all the medications in your first aid kit. And make sure you have enough bandages and moleskin for any blisters that may happen. You will want to find any water containers like a Camelbak and make sure it’s clean. Some people prefer to carry water bottles in a hip holster rather than a large container on their back. Think about how you prefer to access your water when out hiking.

Spend some time unfolding and setting up your tent. You may find that it needs some repairs or some cleaning. You will also want to check your sleeping bags. Pull out your camp stove and see if it needs cleaning. And do you have enough fuel? Even if you cleaned up everything before putting it away, you should double-check to make sure everything is in perfect shape. You don’t want to get out there and find that your plastic sheet got chewed on over the winter.

Don’t forget to check out our other article on Cool Camping Gear to get more ideas.

And, for more tips on how to get ready to camp in your car, this video will be helpful:

What to Look for in a Campground

Before you research camping places, spend a little time thinking about what you want to do while in the great outdoors. Then as you look online at the amenities, you can find options that will give you the most relaxing experiences. Also, you should think about how far you want to drive. There are many top rated camping places within two hours of downtown Portland.

If you intend to do your own cooking, you will want to find a place that has picnic tables at each camp site. The picnic table is also great for sitting around talking, reading, and playing games as well as being a great replacement for a counter when meal prepping.

It’s nice to have flush toilets and showers within walking distance. Many popular campground areas are working to have increased amenities. At some sites, you can find stores as well as restaurants Perhaps you enjoy roughing it at the more primitive campsites. In that case, you will want to research to make sure that you won’t have neighbors close by or too many amenities.

Additionally, some cabin villages don’t allow you to bring in food because it attracts bears. They often have food services or a variety of restaurants within easy driving distances. You will also want to plan how long you intend to camp. That determines how much food and water you’ll require. And it will determine if you need a site with showers.

What do You Enjoy Doing While Camping Near Portland?

Sometimes it’s fun to have a base camp and take your car out exploring nearby wineries, hiking trails, or national scenic areas. Then at the end of the day, you can cook around a campfire reminiscing about your favorite things.

If you enjoy hiking, there are many camping sites with trails leading to wonderful scenic areas like state and national parks. Some camping sites have mountain biking trails available. If this is you, bring your bike and helmet.

If you enjoy fishing, there are many rivers and lakes that have docks for non-motorized boating. Some places rent boats and canoes for day excursions. You can also camp near the ocean, and go fishing in the surf.

There are many camping areas for people with other abilities. The Lost Lake Campground in Mount Hood National Forest has a wheelchair-accessible resort with 148 campsites, canoe rentals, fishing boats, and more. They also provide scheduled activities including stargazing using telescopes.

Some Final Thoughts on Car Camping

Many places are popular, and you will need to get your reservation in early. Make sure you know how to make a reservation. They are usually online portals.

If this is your first camping trip, you may wish to stay in a cabin and see how you enjoy the great outdoors. Also, you can rent camping equipment from some sporting goods stores. This allows you to have the full experience without spending a lot of money.

Don’t forget to post your pictures! We love seeing you smile.

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