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In the early 1900s, President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt visited Oregon, and accounts say, was angered by the state of the wilderness. An avid outdoorsman and hunter, President Roosevelt swiftly moved to declare the Deschutes Mountains a national forest to preserve what was left after intense logging. Deschutes National Forest was officially established in 1908. In the 1930s, Civilian Conservation Corps, operating under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, replanted tens of thousand trees, blazed trails, built shelters and cabins, and paved roads. Thanks to their efforts, Deschutes National Forest remains a premier park to visit even to this day.
The closest large town is Bend, which is roughly 25 miles to the northeast. A former logging town, many businesses now center around the outdoor recreation industry. Men’s Journal ranked Bend as one of the top 10 towns to live in 2015. The town is especially well known for its indie film and craft beer scenes, and it hosts several festivals throughout the year spotlighting these two crafts. Search for an RV in Deschutes County, OR, and get ready to embark on an RV camping trip of a lifetime.
Deschutes National Forest is an outdoor adventurer’s dream destination. There’s something for everyone: high mountain peaks to summit. Picturesque, glassy lakes to kayak across. Hundreds of miles of hiking trails to explore. An intricate network of caves and lava tubes for spelunking. Deschutes National Forest encompasses around 1.8 million acres of Oregon wilderness, and around 350,000 acres consist of old-growth forests. Some trees have been determined to be around 500 or 600 years old.
A nearby volcano, Newberry Volcano, is considered active, though it has not erupted in over a thousand years. Hikers, thrill-seekers, and fledgling geologists can explore its cinder cones, lava flow, tubes, and hot springs heated by geothermal energy deep beneath the earth. Deschutes National Forest has over 250 known caves for people to explore, some of which are guided, and there are likely several more that have yet to be discovered.
Several hundred miles of trails allow for a variety of outdoor recreation fun. Hike, bike, or mount a horse and hit the trails. Along the way, keep an eye out for wildlife. Deschutes National Forest is home to several hundred mammals, birds, and reptiles, some of which are threatened or endangered. A shortlist includes black bears, bobcats, elk, minks, and deer. Endangered or threatened animals that reside in Deschutes National Forest include the gray wolf, northern spotted owl, barred owl, greater sage grouse, and Canadian lynx.
When winter arrives and covers the mountains in deep, soft snow, the fun doesn’t stop. The trails remain open to snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and for the stubborn, hiking. Note that most of the trails are not groomed.
Rockhounds and fossil hunters, take note: collecting specimens of fossils and minerals is permitted in Deschutes National Forest. However, collectors are limited to common invertebrate or plant fossils and only for personal use. Common finds in Deschutes National Forest include snail, clam, and leaf fossils.
Several miles from the closest town, a smart adventurer will rent a camper to gain more-immediate access to nature. One has to only step out of the front door of their RV rental to be surrounded by pristine wilderness. Sip coffee while watching deer sip from a babbling creek. Listen to birds in the trees. Deschutes National Forest has several RV campgrounds, and though most lack hookups, a few have running water.
RV camp near Crescent, OR, at Boundary Springs Campground. Operated on a first-come, first-serve basis, this is a moderately popular campground due to its close proximity to the OHV trails. Although there are no hookups, it does have vault toilets. RVs and trailers longer than 50 feet are not recommended.
Alternatively, one can Airstream camp near Wickiup Reservoir. North Davis Creek Campground, in addition to restrooms with vault toilets, has potable water. Due to tight turns, the maximum recommended length for vehicles is 26 feet. The access road is rough and poorly maintained, and four-wheel-drive vehicles are highly recommended.
The Lower Bridge Campground near Sisters is open year-round. It’s a smaller campground with room for only 12 sites. However, it is able to accommodate rigs up to 40 feet. Potable water and restrooms with vault toilets are available for visitors to use.
Hop into a motorhome rental and explore the charming mountain towns that are scattered across the Deschutes mountain range. Many towns regularly hold community festivals and events, in part to draw tourists and recreational adventurers, and in part to foster a sense of community. Sisters, OR, has held the Sisters Rodeo annually since 1941 in early June, and it is one of the oldest continually-operating rodeos in the state.
Redmond is a bustling small town that hosts several events. It’s especially well-known for Derby Days, which has been held annually since 1940. Usually scheduled for mid-July, Derby Days has several events like bicycle races, parades, races, and high-spirited games. It’s also an excellent opportunity to search for new artists and crafters for the perfect one-of-a-kind handcrafted goods.
The historic main street of nearby La Pine is lined by charming shops and restaurants. It’s a fantastic town to search for the perfect RV camping souvenir to remind you of this trip.