The 984,602-acre Umpqua National Forest is located in southwest Oregon in the western Cascade Mountains with the Umpqua River running right through the middle of it. The word Umpqua means thundering waters, which refers to the whitewater rapids that the Umpqua River is famous for. The rapids here range from Class I to Class IV, so there is something for everyone who enjoys the excitement of rafting.
If you would rather do some hiking or want to see the whole valley, the tallest point is the 9,182-foot Mount Thielsen, which you can get to from several different trails. Hunting and fishing are also popular here and have been for thousands of years according to the history of the area. The forest got its name from the Umpqua Tribe of Native Americans who lived there about 7,000 years ago.
The Umpqua National Forest has a wide variety of geological areas with diverse flora and fauna. There are 236 species of birds, 66 species of mammals, and 18 different kinds of fish with thousands of miles of streams to provide water for everyone. If you want to stay the night or the week, there are plenty of choices with 16 RV campgrounds here. We have highlighted our top three picks below.
Just an hour from Medford in southeastern Oregon off Highway 138 or 97, you will find the mountainous Umpqua National Forest. Whether you are coming to the forest by car, truck, or RV, the drive will be scenic no matter where you are coming from. The Myrtle Creek-Canyonville Tour Route is a 68-mile section of southern Oregon meandering along the Umpqua River that has historic homes, farms, and plenty of wildlife.
The Rogue-Umpqua National Scenic Byway is an all-day excursion if you want to enjoy the whole route and you should because it is gorgeous. With 172 miles of mountains, waterfalls, rolling hills, and whitewater rapids, you should have plenty of photo ops along the way so make sure your passenger has a camera.
The roads are typically easy to maneuver no matter what you are driving but during the winter and early spring you may find some snowy areas that have not been cleared. You should always stay alert for wildlife that tend to cross these streets, especially at dusk and dawn. Plan to park your RV or trailer at the campsite and walk or have another form of transportation because the campgrounds are pretty rugged for the most part.
Diamond Lake Campground near Chemult is the largest campground in the Umpqua National Forest with 238 campsites, of which 189 reservable and the rest are first-come, first-served. These sites are open from Memorial Day until November and have picnic tables, fire pits with grills, and parking pads up to 35 feet in length. Pets are welcome but must be restrained and supervised during your stay. The park provides hot showers, flush toilets, drinking water spigots, an RV dump site, and garbage disposal.
In addition, there are two boat launches on the 3,000-acre Diamond Lake where you can do some fishing for trout and other species as well as swimming, boating, and sailing. Power boats are allowed but restricted to 45 mph. There are two fish cleaning stations to clean your catch if you want to cook it up for dinner. If you want to do some biking, try the 11.5-mile Dellenback Bike Path #1460 or you can hike one of the other three trails in the park. The 4.9-mile Mount Thielsen Trail #1456, 5.1-mile Mount Bailey Trail #1451, or part of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Backpacking Trail.
By Cottage Grove, the Rujada Campground has 15 campsites open from mid-May until mid-September. Each site has its own picnic table, a fire pit with a grill, and a large cleared area for sitting around the campfire. Parking pads range from 15 to 43 feet in length. Eight of the sites are reservable online while the remaining seven are first-come, first-served. The campground also provides modern flush toilets as well as vault toilets and four freshwater spigots for drinking water. There is also an RV waste station nearby.
Although it is a small campground, there are plenty of things to do here including three trails with waterfalls. The 0.6-mile Pinard Falls is difficult but takes you to a gorgeous 105-foot waterfall. The Moon Falls is an easy 0.5-mile hike to the 125-foot waterfall. The 0.4-mile Spirit Falls is challenging but short and takes you to a 60-foot waterfall. Dogs and cats are welcome as long as they are restrained and supervised at all times during your stay.
In the middle of a grove of mature pine and fir trees, Horseshoe Bend Campground has 25 campsites open from mid-May until October. The sites each have their own picnic table that seats 10, a campfire ring with a grill, and a large cleared space for sitting around the fire. The parking pads range from 20 to 35 feet in length. There are modern restrooms with running water and seven drinking water spigots around the campground. With such a limited number of sites, it is best to reserve your spot early.
Along the banks of the North Umpqua River, this spot has 33.8 miles of Class I to Class IV whitewater rapids. You can also fish for trout and salmon or just do some floating or swimming. If you want to take a walk, there are five trails here including the nice and easy 0.5-mile Horseshoe Bend Trail #1533. Pets are welcome as long as they are restrained and supervised at all times during your stay.
You don’t have to go to the ocean to catch some waves. In fact, the Umpqua River in Umpqua National Forest has some pretty impressive waves to surf as well so make sure you pack your boards in the RV. The Cottage Grove Ranger District in the northern section of the forest is a good place to start. The North Umpqua Ranger District is the most popular though with the North Umpqua River tide being the strongest here. The Diamond Lake Ranger District and Tiller Ranger District also offer some surfing opportunities.
One of Oregon’s most popular rivers, the North Umpqua River has something for everyone with Class I to Class IV whitewater rapids. The Umpqua is listed as a Wild and Scenic River and you will see why if you float the rapids here. There are several sections to choose from including the Boulder Flat to Horseshoe, which is easy and has some beautiful geological attractions and the Horseshoe to the Gravel Bin, which is a bit more difficult and is the most popular area. Susan Creek to Cable Crossing has Class III rapids, which is good for those who are still learning but have some experience.
Make sure you hook up the bikes to the RV before coming to the forest because there are over 100 miles of biking trails to explore. The 2.7-mile Maidu Lake Trail is easy with an average grade of only two percent. The 6.7-mile Lemolo Lake Trail is easy to intermediate with an average grade of four percent. The 11.5-mile Dellenback Trail meanders along Diamond Lake at Diamond Lake Park with fantastic views of Mount Thielsen and Mount Bailey and an average grade of three percent.
With a collection of volcanic spires among the fir, pine, and cedar trees of the Umpqua National Forest, there are at least 50 named climbs to enjoy here. There are a few multi-pitch summit top-outs as well as pockets and nubbins on the Honeycombs of the Umpqua Valley. Some of the best include the Bare Naked Solstice Party on the South Comb by the Clock Tower with two pitches, One Tuff Cookie on the North Comb with one pitch, and the Taste of Honey on the Forbidden Comb, which has four pitches.
There are more than 200 named trails in the Umpqua National Forest. Near the Horseshoe Bend Campground, you can find five trails including the half-mile Horseshoe Bend Trail, the one-mile Illahee Flat Trail #1532, the 2.5-mile Twin Lakes Trail #1500, the 10.6-mile Boulder Creek Trail, and the 79.1-mile backpacking North Umpqua Trail #1414. At Diamond Lake Campground, you can find the 4.9-mile Mount Thielsen Trail #1456 and the 5.1-mile Mount Bailey Trail #1451. The Pacific Crest Trail, which is 2,650 miles long, goes through the area as well. And the Rujada Campground has the 0.6-mile Pinard Falls Trail, 0.5-mile Moon Falls Trail, and the 0.4-mile Spirit Falls Trail.
If you like skiing, pack up those skis in the RV and head to the Umpqua National Forest this winter. The Three Lakes Sno-Park in the Diamond Lake Ranger District is open from November until May with plenty of opportunities for skiing as well as snowshoeing, snowboarding, and snowmobile riding. The 3.6-mile Hemlock Butte Trail and 2.3-mile Silent Creek Trail are two of the most popular here. The five-mile Mount Bailey Trail #1451 is also fun and gives you some fantastic views of the whole area.