Many people enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of camping away from developed campgrounds and other campers. “Dispersed camping” is the term used for camping anywhere in the National Forest OUTSIDE of a designated campground, and is generally allowed anywhere except within 100 feet of a lake, trail, or stream or where posted as closed. Generally, there is a 14 DAY PER TWO MONTH STAY LIMIT (14 days in a 60-day period) on the Willamette National Forest. Establishing residency is against federal regulation.
Dispersed camping may mean no toilet facilities or treated water are located nearby, and no fire grates are provided. Typically, dispersed camping is not allowed near developed recreation areas such as campgrounds, picnic areas or trailheads. Many people drive out on Forest Service roads into the woods and find a clearing or a spot near a stream or with a view of the mountains.
Willamette National Forest
Picking a Campsite
Select a campsite with good natural drainage to eliminate the need to trench or level tent sites. Avoid creating new “roads” to access your campsite. Camp, on bare, or compacted soil when possible, to avoid damaging or killing plants and grass. Keep activity on durable ground to prevent site expansion.
Where no campsites exist, camp at least 100 feet away from a water source, as plants and wildlife near water are especially fragile.
Length of Stay
You can stay in your chosen site for up to 14 days in a 60-day period. Establishing residency is against federal regulation.
Campfires are generally allowed when you are dispersed camping UNLESS there are fire restrictions in effect due to high fire danger conditions. It is YOUR responsibility to know if fire restrictions are in effect before you go camping.
Dispersed camping often means no toilet facilities. Extra care must be taken to properly dispose of human waste. To dispose of feces, dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 100 feet from any water source, campsites or trails. When you’re done, fill the hole with the dirt you dug up and place your toilet paper in a sealed Ziploc baggie for disposal in a proper waste container.
Additional guidelines for dispersed camping