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Decaying ruins found in Oregon's Umpqua National Forest suggests that Native Americans lived in the region for at least 10,000 years. With the arrival of European settlers, several Native American tribes quietly departed to avoid conflict. The few remaining ones were relocated to reservations. Umpqua National Forest was officially established in 1907, and it was one of the first parks to be actively developed by the newfound National Forest organization. The staff blazed trails, built shelters, stone bridges, and fire lookouts in 1910. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps, operating under President Roosevelt’s New Deal program, repaired several structures as well as added trails and roads. “Umpqua” is a Native American word that roughly means “thundering waters,” a nod to the abundance of waterfalls in the park.
The closest large town is Roseburg, which is about 40 miles west of the park’s western entrances. Primarily a logging town, Roseburg claims to be the “Timber Capital of the Nation.” Roseburg also is the closest town with a hospital equipped with an emergency room, and all outdoor recreational adventurers should prepare for their Airstream camping trip with this in mind. Search for an RV in Douglas County, OR, and get ready for a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime RV camping at Umpqua National Forest.
Encompassing nearly a million acres, Umpqua National Forest is a pristine piece of Oregon wilderness. It’s estimated that over half - around 535,000 acres - consists of old-growth forests. Indeed, some trees have been found to be at least 300 years old, and a few are suspected to be even older. Though the region outside Umpqua National Forest was heavily logged, the park’s terrain is so rugged that it was deemed too expensive and difficult for timber companies to pursue.
Several majestic animals like black bear, cougars, and elk make their home in these mountains. Overhead, raptor birds like owls, eagles, and ospreys are common sights in the vast blue sky. There are several hundred miles of trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders to explore. Due to the rugged, rocky terrain, the park is a recreational hotspot for rock climbers. Depending on the chosen crag, routes can range from 5.6 (very easy) to 5.11c (moderately difficult). Most routes are either single-pitches or can be top-roped, though there are a few slabs like the Acker Rock that require multi-pitches.
Rockhounds and fossil hunters, take note: collecting specimens is permitted in Umpqua National Forest. Fossils of ancient plants and tree trunks have been found in deposits here and there. Sharp-eyed hunters can also find a wide range of minerals, including chalcedony, volcanic glass, quartz, tourmaline, and gold.
Camping at Umpqua National Forest
It’s a long drive from the closest hotel, and a smart adventurer knows that for a good hike to a distant destination, an early departure is key. Shorten that step by renting a travel trailer and making use of one of Umpqua National Forest RV campgrounds. Umpqua National Forest has around 35 RV campgrounds, and though there are no hookups available, they have a variety of amenities and features.
RV camp near Crescent, OR, at Diamond Lake RV Park RV campground. Diamond Lake RV Park is close to Pacific Crest Trail, the stunning Crater Lake National Park, and several impressive mountain peaks. The large campground has over 200 sites and is the only campground in Umpqua National Forest to offer running water. It also has flush toilets, a dump station, and fish-cleaning stations.
In contrast, the Mineral Camp Campground is one of the smallest campgrounds in Umpqua National Forest with only three RV sites. The upside is the RV camping experience will be a quieter, more serene one. For this reason, this campground is highly popular, and it operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Arrive very early in the day to secure a spot.
Exploring the Area
In the heart of the Oregon mountains, civilization can seem very far away. But, eventually, we must emerge and return to the world of man. Several towns dotting the perimeter of Umpqua National Forest have a variety of attractions and sights for adventurers to explore. Roseburg, the closest town, has a vibrant theater and art scene. The Glass Creek Art Galleries, which is well-known for its exquisite glass sculptures, also offers workshops.
Glide has one of the best coffee and bakery shops in the area, the locals claim. Practically everything on the menu is homemade, including the whipped cream that tops cocoa or milkshake.
The Umpqua Valley, just west of Umpqua National Forest, is home to several wineries. Their grapevines thrive in Oregon’s rich, dark soil. Embark on a wine tour of the valley and find your favorite varietal to take home. The Abacela Winery near Winston is an award-winning wine producer, and it has been nominated for the American Winery of the Year. Its tasting room is open daily, and visitors can also partake in a tour of the grounds.