Located along the banks of the picturesque North Santiam River, Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area is a hidden gem along State Highway 22 perfect for RV lovers. Managed by the BLM, the recreation area is nestled within a heavily forested area of Oregon that is known for being one of the largest timber milling areas in the state. This is a rare BLM operated facility where there are no free dry-camping areas, so you will have to pay a camping fee to call the park home.
No matter what summer outdoor activities you are interested in, newbie RVers through to experienced travelers will find something to enjoy at Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area. The 170 acres that encompass the park contain many great recreational opportunities, including a nature trail, baseball diamonds, softball fields, a basketball court, and a playground. The river is also a hub of activities with many visitors attracted to its waters to have some fun fishing, paddling, or swimming. If you are traveling with a group there are also several picnic areas you can reserve ahead of your arrival. Interested in learning more about the area? Be sure to check out the Nature Center near the amphitheater.
Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area stands out as one of the best BLM operated facilities in the state due to the fantastic campground that is suitable for RVs up to 40 feet in length. The campground contains a mixture of sites that offer either full hookups or electricity and water so you can relax with some modern comforts during your stay. Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area is only open during the peak season from the beginning of May to the end of October.
Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area is a very easy place to find due to it being located right off State Highway 22. There is only one entrance to the park and it is a very short drive from the highway, which is where you will exit. The road into the recreation area is flat and paved so you shouldn't have any trouble navigating your way to the day-use area or the campground.
Despite feeling like it is in the middle of nowhere, you will be quite close to supplies and amenities such as banks, medical centers, and restaurants since Mill City is only two miles away. Other towns along the North Santiam Highway that contain supplies include Gates (around five miles away), and Detroit (22 miles away). The closest city to Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area is Salem and is 30 miles to the west back towards the coast.
Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area is closed during the wintertime so you won't be able to access the park roads or use any of its features once the cold weather hits. The park reopens in May, so you shouldn't have to worry about snowfall impacting your journey.
There is plenty of room to park at Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area, including at the group day-use sites. If you are just visiting for the day we recommend parking near the headquarters of the park and exploring it on foot.
Fishermen's Bend Campground is the best location for you to stay during your visit to Fishermen's Bend Recreation area. The campground consists of two loops (known as the Camp and River Loops) that have a total of 54 sites, 49 of which are suitable for RVs.
Fishermen's Bend Campground is one of the rare BLM operated accommodation areas that features powered sites, with some even having full hookups. Along with having hookups available, each site is also quite large and they can accommodate up to two vehicles and between eight to 12 people. All of the RV friendly sites are paved and feature picnic areas. If you have a larger rig, your best bet will be to stay at one of the campsites on the outer loops since they are the largest available. The sites are also pet-friendly and you should be able to get cell phone reception on all of the major networks.
Fishermen's Bend Campground can be used only via reservation so it is vital that you make one before arriving at the recreation area. They can be made in advance of the upcoming season, which runs from the beginning of May until the end of October.
Despite Fishermen's Bend Recreation Site being managed by the BLM, you won't feel like you are in the wilderness setting that their land usually occupies. There are two cabins available that can accommodate up to six guests, both of which come equipped with power and wheelchair access.
The cabins are a great way for your friends or family to join you on your getaway without you all having to be squashed into an RV. If you have more than six people there is also a tent pad at each cabin so nobody will have to miss out. The cabins are not pet-friendly, you can't cook any meals in them, and they don't have running water, but you will be close to the restrooms and showers. Some of the other great features of the cabins include porches and picnic tables for you to relax at.
The cabins must be reserved in advance, otherwise you won't be able to use them during your stay. They are open during the regular camping season only, which runs from the beginning of May until the end of October.
If you aren't traveling in your RV and want to do some tent camping there are five sites in the River Loop that are specifically available just for tent camping. All of the tent-only sites are right on the river and are wheelchair accessible so that anyone can enjoy them.
Although they are tent sites, there is still plenty of room and they can accommodate large tents up to 20 feet in length, which means nearly any tent will be able to fit here. There are no electric, water, or sewer hookups in the tent sites, but you will be very close to the shower block and restrooms that are located in the River Loop campground.
Like the RV sites, if you are wanting to stay at the campground you will need to reserve your site in advance. Reservations can be made via the recreation.gov portal online and you will also have the ability to check out photos of each site.
Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area is an ideal place for an afternoon picnic thanks to the fantastic picnic areas that have been constructed within it. No matter how large or small your picnic group is, you will find a great place to relax at during your visit.
There are plenty of picnic tables scattered throughout the 140 acres that make up the recreation area, along with six day-use shelters that can accommodate up to 110 people. If you would like to use one of the large day-use shelters you will have to reserve it online before your arrival to Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area.
If you are interested in learning more about the nature that surrounds this beautiful part of the world you will have to check out the Nature Center. Open during the standard May to October period, the Nature Center features some informative displays on numerous natural resource topics that are suitable for visitors of all ages.
Along with having some great displays, the staff at the nature center will be able to answer any questions you have regarding the flora and fauna that you see during your visit. If you are lucky you may also get to listen to a ranger talk at the amphitheater during your visit!
One of the most popular activities for visitors to Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area is to bust out their watercraft and head out on the North Santiam River. The river is an awesome place to go paddling and can be easily accessed thanks to the boat ramp that is located near the River Loop camping area.
There are no rentals available at Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area, so if you want to enjoy the river you will have to bring your own or rent from a private company.
Although there is only one trail at Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area, it is well worth checking out during your visit. Known as the Nature Trail, this is a one-mile loop that is suitable for visitors of all ages. The trail will take you through the wooded area that the park encompasses and also provide fantastic views of the river and the surrounding wetlands. If you would like a map of the trail there are brochures available near the amphitheater where it begins.
Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area contains some great amenities that are ready to entertain visitors of all ages. There is an impressive playground area that is perfect for keeping the kids and adults entertained due to the wide variety of activities that it contains.
There is a playground, baseball diamond, horseshoe pit, two softball fields, a volleyball court, and a basketball court within the park that are free for visitors to use. The recreation areas are a great spot to hang out at once you have finished with having some fun out on the river, and they are open from dawn to dusk.
If you love to fish you will have to pack your rod and reel before your RV adventure so you don't miss out on enjoying the angling opportunities at Fishermen's Bend Recreation Area. As the name of the recreation area suggests, the park is well-known for being a fishing hotspot and it contains an accessible fishing area near where the North Santiam Fishing Area bends towards the north.
The river is known to be a great place to catch salmon, trout, chinook, and steelhead, especially in the early spring months. Before you cast out a line make sure that you have an Oregon fishing license.