Surrounded by old-growth forest and featuring some of the best swimming in all of Quartzville Creek, the Yellowbottom Recreation Site is a perfect place to relax and unwind during the summer months. Located across the road from the 13-acre campground that is also managed by the BLM, the Yellowbottom Recreation Site does not offer visitors any free dry-camping, but some of the sites at the fee campground can accommodate small RVs, trailers, and tents.
Visitors to Yellowbottom Recreation Site are often looking for some water-based recreation in a peaceful setting away from the hustle and bustle of regular day-to-day life. The waters in the creek are crystal clear and the rocks on the bottom of the creek have a unique golden yellow color. Along with being an incredible place to swim, there are also some great rocks to jump off into the water, picnic tables, a rope swing, and some hiking trails for visitors to explore. You will also be very close to the Middle Santiam Wilderness and Willamette National Forest so there will be plenty of activities to keep you occupied. A unique activity that you can do in the area is going gold panning. While this isn't allowed in the swimming area, gold panning can be done in other areas of Quartzville Creek.
While there aren't any sites suitable for larger RVs within the Yellowbottom Recreational Campground, you do have the option to stay at the Old Miners Meadow Group Use Area if you are traveling with a large group. There are also acres of BLM land in this part of Oregon, so there are some dry-camping options. Yellowbottom Recreation Site is open from the Memorial Day weekend through to the Labor Day weekend.
Driving to and from the Yellowbottom Recreation Site is a little difficult since it is quite far off the beaten trail. The most common way to get to the recreation area is to take the US-20 and turn onto Quartzville road. The park is located 24 miles down Quartzville Road, but it can also be accessed from the North Santiam Highway via a very windy road.
Since the park is very far from any towns or amenities you will need to get any supplies for your trip prior to arrival. Some of the best places to check out are Sweet Home (around 30 miles away), Lebanon (around 43 miles away), and Eugene (around 74 miles away). Despite only being 30 miles away, it will still take you around an hour to get to Sweet Home from the recreation area.
If you are just visiting for the day there should be plenty of room for you to park in the recreation area. There are no parking restrictions and most RVs will be able to navigate to the Yellowbottom Recreation Site. Since the recreation area is locked during the wintertime you won't be able to drive to it, but you can park before the entrance and walk-in if you are looking to experience some winter recreation.
A few miles down the road from the Yellowbottom Recreation Site is the Old Miners Meadow Group Use. This is a group camping area that is managed by the BLM, so if you are traveling with some friends or family it could be a good option to use as a home base during your visit. There are no designated campsites in the Old Miners Meadow Group Use and it is not recommended for RVs. Some of the amenities here include water collection points, fire rings, picnic tables, and vault toilets.
Since Old Miners Meadow Group Use is a group camping area you will have to make a reservation in order to stay here.
Opposite the main recreation area is the Yellowbottom Campground where most visitors choose to call home during their visit to the recreation area. This is the only developed campground in the area and does cost a fee to use, so you won't be able to do any free dry-camping in this area of BLM land.
The campground is 13 acres in size and contains 22 sites that are mostly suited to tents. If you have an RV over 20 feet you will struggle to fit into these sites, so it might be best to either go tent camping here or stay at a campground within the Willamette National Forest. Don't expect to find any sites that contain electric, water, or sewer hookups, but there are some handy amenities. These include water collection points, vault toilets, and trash collection. Pets are also allowed and you should be able to get cell phone reception during your stay.
All sites at Yellowbottom Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis only and can only be used from the Labor Day to Memorial Day weekend.
If you are comfortable with dry-camping there is plenty of BLM land in the area that you could stay at in your RV. If you do choose to pull off the road and stay on BLM be mindful of your impact and try to use sites that have already been disturbed.
By far the most popular activity for visitors to Yellowbottom Recreation Site is to go swimming in the beautiful waters of Quartz Creek. There are many spots inside the recreation area that you can use to access the river, but the most common spot is at the small sandy beach area that is opposite the campground. There are no lifeguards on duty this far out in the wilderness and the water can be quite deep, so be prepared to swim unsupervised.
Along with swimming, there are some large rocks and cliffs that visitors to the recreation area often jump off into the water. These activities can be very dangerous and are not recommended for the faint at heart, but due to the clear water, you won't have to worry about landing on any submerged objects.
The most common rock to jump off is located to the left of the beach and also will provide you with the chance to get a great action shot.
The facilities at Yellowbottom Recreation Site are fairly primitive due to its remote location, but if you are thinking about having a picnic during your visit, go ahead. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the main recreation area and there are also trash cans for you to dispose of your waste in the most responsible way possible. You could also bypass the picnic tables and head down to the water for a relaxing meal.
There aren't too many hiking opportunities within the recreation area due to its small size. However, there is one trail on the north side of the campground that you can explore. The trail is quite short at only one mile long, but it is suitable for visitors of all ages as there are no difficult areas along the trail.
If you are looking for more extensive hiking trails we recommend checking out the nearby Willamette National Forest.
While there is no vehicle access allowed at Yellowbottom Recreation Site during the winter months, you can still park your rig outside of the grounds and enjoy some winter recreation. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are the most popular winter activities, but you could also go ice fishing, build a snowman, or have a snowball fight. If you decide to come to the recreation area in winter there will be no amenities available such as running water, so keep this in mind.
Another recreation hub to check out while you are in the area is the Willamette National Forest. There are plenty of activities to enjoy here that you won't get the chance to do at Yellowbottom Recreation Site, including hunting, snowmobiling, horse riding, and bike riding.
Unlike Yellowbottom, the forest is also open to vehicle access all year round, so you won't have to walk-in to this area if you do visit during the winter months.