Review of Oregon Glamping Places

I first learned how to camp on my own the summer that my friend Elizabeth and I decided to camp out illegally on Mount Tamalpais. On our first night on the beach, neither one of us was willing to take responsibility for having sheets in our backpack but I did own up to the watermelon. By the end of the season, we had lightened up considerably; we were skipping along with mummy bags, 1” Thermarests and little else. This lightness allowed us to commune with nature in a way that lugging around watermelons, bedding and other creature comforts never could have. We woke up eye to eye with feeding deer, barked back at the coyotes and had our choice of any camping spot we set our sights on.

We got real close to nature that summer.

Elizabeth and I are very different kinds of people when it comes to food and comfort. Elizabeth is the kind of person who will climb a 14,000 foot mountain for the view, which involves aching, not being able to breathe properly, and possibly dying. She also doesn’t mind being hungry. I am the kind of person who becomes an angry bear if I don’t get a good night’s sleep and associates every memory with what I was eating at the time. (Waking up on the beach in Bolinas = chocolate croissants; Getting engaged=seafood risotto with truffle oil, etc.) And so, after that idyllic summer of tromping around on a mountain together, Elizabeth began going farther and deeper into the woods with just a tiny little mummy bag and a pocket full of nuts to keep her alive and happy. I, on the other hand, discovered the wonder of blow up mattresses.

But I miss being way out in the woods far away from everyone. I still secretly scorn RVs and don’t want to set up camp wedged between two of them, the price I must often pay to maintain my preferred comfort level in the woods.

The woods don’t feel like the woods anymore when I’m between two RVs and have a power hook up connected to my site. How to get away from it all and experience that solitude and oneness with nature without sleeping on the ground and living on Clif Bars?

Here in Oregon, it rains a lot. That means you can’t just throw yourself down on the side of a mountain to sleep for the night for a whole summer, because chances are high that you’ll get rained on. Oregon has stepped up to meet the challenge of helping people stay warm, dry and comfortable with all sorts of interesting accommodations strewn all over for the state for those who crave being deep in nature but want a little more than 1” of inflatable foam between themselves and the ground at night.

Canvas Cabin Tents

Canvas cabin tents are so chic and sexy. I always suspected that I would feel like a princess in the forest when I stayed in a canvas cabin tent in one of those plush beds with a lantern illuminating the space at night. I finally got to live out my fantasy in Enterprise, Oregon during my husband, Joseph’s 50th birthday celebration. The cabin tents at the Loghouse RV Park and Campground were pretty and housed king sized beds as promised. But the power lines coming from the power station the next lot over made a steady enough buzz that we never really felt like we were in nature. I’d like to stay in another canvas cabin tent farther off the grid. Paws Up Resort looks oppressively luxurious, but I’m sure I can put up with the tyranny of forced luxury for a night or two.


If canvas cabin tents are the Daphne’s of the camping world, yurts are for the Velma’s. Yurts are for croc wearing, spam eating, geocaching geeks who had a thing for smurfs when they were little. That said, yurts are also damn practical (as are most nerds) and a perfect solution to Oregon’s soggy climate. The Oregon State Park System offers no less than 190 yurts throughout the state. Some are deluxe, which means they are bigger, have showers, tvs, vcrs (so that you can watch that old tape of Some Kind of Wonderful that was in your basement?) refrigerators and microwaves, covered decks and barbecues. Basic yurts have electricity, heaters, beds with mattresses for 5, lockable doors, porches and fire pits. Most of the yurts are located along the coast, which is a good spot for them, as that is where you will be the wettest, windblown and most in need of a yurt.

Here is a list of all of the yurt choices in Oregon and how many at each park:

Yurts on the Oregon Coast

Beachside 2

Beverly Beach 21

Bullards Beach 13

Cape Lookout 13

Carl Washburne 2 (my favorite)

Devil’s Lake 10

Fort Stevens 15

Harris Beach 6

Jessie Honeyman 10

Nehalem Bay 18

South Beach 27

Sunset Bay 8

Umpqua Lighthouse 8*

William Tugman 16

* Deluxe

Yurts around Inland Oregon

Champoeg 6

Tumalo 7

Valley of the Rogue 6

Wallowa Lake 2


Cabins in Oregon vary from the truly rustic 4 walls and a floor to things that are really tricked out houses in the woods with all the bells and whistles. I don’t really want to go hiking deep into nature and stay in a house. Well, sometimes I do, but this story is about glamping and it is not glamping to go hiking from house to house. Huts, rustic cabins, log cabins – that’s what makes the cut here. The Oregon State Park cabins are really nice. Even the rustic ones are quite sweet and usually well situated in the campgrounds. They’d be great if you were going ‘camping’ with a few friends and wanted to pretend you were neighbors for a weekend. Neighbors who love to go hiking together. Some of the cabins are even dog friendly as of 2012. Awooooo!!! I was particularly taken with the cabins at Silver Falls. They are well situated and it is fun to pretend that you live there when you stay there. The deluxe cabins are kind of embarrassingly nice – they really are houses. They have mattresses, electricity, tables and chairs, like the rustic cabins, but they also have sinks, stoves, refrigerators, microwaves showers and porches. I think it’s the microwave that bothers me. Also, Deluxe Cabins are expensive. During peak season, they cost between $65 – $81 per night, which is cheap hotel rate. Here is a list of all of the rustic cabins and deluxe cabins available in Oregon State Parks:

Rustic Cabins in the State Parks of Oregon

Alfred A. Loeb 3

Cape Blanco 4

Champoeg 6

Emigrant Springs 6*

Farewell Bend 2

L.L. “Stub” Stewart 15

LaPine 5

Prineville Reservoir 2

Silver Falls 14 (I LOVE these cabins and this park)

Umpqua Lighthouse 2

Unity Lake 2

Deluxe Cabins in the State Parks of Oregon

Cape Lookout 3 (Super nice)

LaPine 5

Prineville Reservoir 3

The Cove Palisades 3

Wallowa Lake 1

I have a crush on the cabin overlooking the river at Opal Creek. I want to climb around the Wallowas and stay in the alpine huts up there. But all of this state park system stuff, although the campsites are really nice, doesn’t fuel my desire to actually get away from it all. Too many people all over the place. And so we turn to one of my favorite ways to go glamping:

Lookout Stations and Guard Cabins

The Pacific Northwest Forest Service (bless their hearts) offers more than 65 retired and semi-retired lookout stations and guard stations for rent to the public. Here’s your chance to have that Walden experience. The only evidence of people comes in the form of the log entries from previous inhabitants who write about the mosquitoes, the mice, and what a nice time they had. One log entry led us to a FANTASTIC meat store, Lakeview Lockers in Lakeview, who promise on their website the best meat you’ll ever eat and deliver on that promise. I’ll forever associate Aspen Cabin with Lakeview Lockers and their wonderful meat and beer.


Native American’s were the first glampers. The only technological advance that has been made since the Sioux invented the tipis to improve the experience is the invention of the s’more in 1927, as published in the girl scout handout. Nowadays you can twirl your marshmallow over the fire in the center of your tipi from the comfort of your futon. It’s a combination that goes together better than chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers. We stayed in a tipi at the FlySpur Resort in Tumalo, Oregon. A helpful tip from our host: When you’re making a fire in a tipi, you want it to burn hot and fast, not slow and smoldering or you’ll smoke yourself out of the tipi like a bad little Indian. (He didn’t say the bad little Indian part. That was me.) In the light of the fire, bellies full of s’mores, we couldn’t resist taking turns doing shadow puppet shows against the tipi walls. There are also tipis at Clyde Holladay State Park and Lake Owyhee. And this family paintball place that kind of freaks me out at Camp Dakota. And there’s a tipi with a mineral fed hot tub inside it at Crane Hot Springs. They have all sorts of yummy cabins to glamp in, too. So worth a visit.


Deserts make me thirsty just looking at them. I’m no lizard. However, every few years I get a bee in my bonnet to go to some big desert and be in the vastness and desolation and quietness of it all. Then as soon as I arrive I get all edgy. That is why, when we went to the Malheur Field Station, located in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, I was happy to stay in a trailer. It was a super nice trailer but my standards, too. I had never stayed in a trailer except for an old mouse ridden airstream before, so this 1970s trailer with a fully operational kitchen, two bedrooms, a shower and so on was damn fancy. When we went on a car safari around the refuge to get gobsmacked by the quantity and quality of avian wildlife, we were more struck by the quantity and intensity of the mosquitoes than anything. The moment I stepped out of the car, I was swarmed in a way I hadn’t experienced since the rain forest in Peru. Actually, it was worse than the rain forest in Peru. As we drive along, mosquitoes kept up with our car and pounded at the windows with their thirsty beaks. It was like Hitchcock’s The Birds writ tiny but no less creepy. There were also some nice trailers in Summer Lake Hot Springs. They were stripped out airstreams, which is the smart thing to do. Rip that shit out and put in a nice big bed. Boom. Glamping. Lots of hot springs all over America got into the glamping concept before it was even a word, actually.


Given that Oregon has so many trees, you’d think there’d be more treehouses for rent. Luckily, the ones that are for rent, ROCK. I had a birthday party at the Out N About Treesort one year and it was just about the greatest birthday ever. We turned into a band of loopy little Ewoks all weekend, paraded about, swung, climbed and zipped through the trees on their ziplines and giant tarzan swing. Friends with babies stayed in treehouses with bathrooms, showers and easy access. Acrophobic friends stayed in a cabin on the ground. Adventurous friends stayed in the 47 foot high Majestree. My husband and I stayed in the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse compound – we were in one little room and our kids were just a few branches over, accessible via a little foot bridge. How can your day be anything less than great when it begins by sliding down a firepole or slide?

For more details, phone numbers and less sloppy links, visit the story I wrote about Glamping in Oregon for the Oregonian, viewable on OregonLive.

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