Red Bridge State Wayside is a cozy little campsite in northeast Oregon's serene Blue Mountains, one of the most sparsely populated and wild parts of the country. It is only 16 miles east of La Grande which offers all services. The campground is located directly beside both Oregon Highway 244 and the lovely Grande Ronde River. This river valley served as the route for the historic Oregon Trail, which led settlers to the Pacific Northwest. This is a basic campsite with ten back-in sites for RVs and ten more for tenting. All sites are primitive, without hookups for your rig, but fresh water, flush toilets, and firewood are available. Campfire horseshoes and picnic tables make this a great site to enjoy a simple weekend of picnicking and strolling along the riverside trail. Ponderosa Pines and Cottonwood trees provide shade for much of the park. If you are seeking a thrill or a challenge, Red Bridge State Wayside is a great base for big game hunting, fishing the Grande Ronde, or gathering mushrooms. Site accessibility for trailers and other rigs is excellent given its location directly beside the highway. All sites are right along the highway, but traffic is usually sparse.
The 16-mile stretch of Highway 244 in from La Grande and Interstate 84 is a mildly windy two-lane road. It follows the Grande Ronde River valley without much elevation change. Be alert for deer. Coming from Ukiah, you face a more windy but stunning ride through the Blue Mountains. In recent years, Highway 244 has occasionally been closed due to summer forest fires.
Red Bridge State Wayside offers ample parking for day use in two sizeable lots. The roads and sites are gravel-covered. The roads are comfortably wide and do not have sharp turns or major obstacles. At the back of the park there is a comfortably broad turn around loop. Located right along a bar of the river, the campground is quite flat.
All ten of the RV sites at Red Bridge State Wayside are primitive. This means that there are no hookups or dumpsite at the campground. Water spigots are available for every site. Flush toilets are also available. The attendant sells firewood, so don't worry if you show up with weenies and no wood. The main downside for some campers will be how close the sites are to the highway, but traffic is low-volume, so noise is not a huge problem. Given the layout of the campground, the river is never far away. About half of the sites are shaded, the others are exposed to the sun. The campground also has ten sites for tents, plenty of open fields and a gravel bank along the river. The riverside trail lets you get away from the campground into the wild Blue Mountains. La Grande is only 16 miles away if you need any amenities. Every site has access to a picnic table and a fire horseshoe. Pets and generators are allowed. There is a charge for any extra vehicle per campsite. The maximum stay is 14 nights. The campground is open from mid-April to mid-October.
The area around Red Bridge State Wayside is popular among mushroom collectors. In fact, the Blue Mountains are home to the largest living being on earth, a vast fungus mat. Oregon has some of the best mushrooming in the world, and many people make a comfortable living from collecting fungi in the region. Some species to look out for are morels, golden chanterelles, king boletes, and American matsutakes. Make sure that you know what you're doing before consuming wild mushrooms.
Dust off those hiking boots and pack them in the campervan. The Blue Mountains offer endless opportunities for hiking. The constantly sunny weather and open, dry terrain are perfect for day hikes and long treks alike. Red Bridge State Wayside lies on the route that follows the Grande Ronde River. This gives you a an easy option to immerse yourself in the stunning natural surroundings without facing much incline. Remember to bring enough water.
The campground has plenty of picnic tables and campfire horseshoes, perfect for a nice long relaxed day of picnicking. The campground enjoys a reasonable amount of shade from the ponderosa pines while still offering plenty of sun. Water spigots are scattered around the park and firewood is available from the attendant. Broad grassy areas are great for a game of catch or to let the kids and dogs loose.
Don't forget to pack a swimsuit in your camper or trailer. When temperatures get up to 86 degrees, what better way to cool off than to jump into the fresh mountain waters of the Grande Ronde River? Red Bridge State Wayside offers a quiet, rarely crowded spot to frollick about in the river. There is a nice gravel bank to wade in from, but there is no lifeguard or controlled swimming area. The river is fast and mostly shallow, best for freshening up rather than a prolonged swim.
The area around Red Bridge State Wayside is ideal for hunting mule deer and elk. The countryside features sparsely wooded rolling hills, allowing you to get within 75-200 yards of your game. The light brush and dry ground also make it easy to stalk through. The consistently sunny weather and dry terrain help make hunting a joy. Be sure to check local regulations for hunting seasons and firearm restrictions.
The Grande Ronde River is an outstanding stream for fishing. Many anglers dream of hooking into the steelhead, chinook salmon, or bull trout that the river offers. This is a perfectly sized stream for fly fishing in waders or casting from the bank. In fact, it is one of the best steelhead rivers in the Pacific Northwest. It is also in a beautiful desert mountain setting with reliably sunny weather.