U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Fremont National Forest


Custom Search

Forest Information

The Fremont National Forest, of the Fremont-Winema National Forests, is in south-central Oregon and consists of 1,201,194 acres. There are thirteen developed campgrounds of which nine meet the selection criteria.

A wide variety of recreational opportunities, from hiking to hang gliding, can be found in the Fremont National Forest but don't look for any camping locations with "hot tubs, glitz or glitter." This is a Forest for basic family tent and motorhome camping. There isn't a recreation vehicle (RV) park-style campground in this Forest. Fremont National Forest is a place where visitors are surrounded by stands of large Sugar and Ponderosa pine, lush meadows dotted with juniper, or hillsides of aspen. Soft-eyed, big-eared mule deer are everywhere, goshawks soar across a big blue sky, and Redband trout and Yellow perch grow fat in the wind rippled lakes. This Forest is special in its rustic, pristine character and offers many memorable experiences.

Camping in Fremont National Forest falls into two categories, which is defined by the Forest Service as campgrounds and forest camps. "Forest camps" are located in quiet, secluded areas with minimal on-site control. This style camping includes vault toilets, picnic tables and fire rings. Silver Creek Marsh, Lofton Reservoir, and Dog Lake fall into this category. Perhaps the best features of forest camps are the solitude, seclusion and sheer beauty found at many of the campgrounds. Also, most have good access to some great trails and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.

With good drinking water, defined boundaries, and a higher level of maintenance, Thompson Reservoir, Eastbay, Marster Spring, Campbell Lake, and Deadhorse Lake campgrounds fall into the "campground" category. "Campgrounds" tend to have better maintained access routes and more campers (can be crowded especially on holiday weekends) staying at them. One constant feature at either camping location is the beauty that surrounds them.

The Fremont National Forest is located on block-fault mountains that line a high-desert valley nicknamed the Oregon Outback. With a seemingly barren desert so close, the Forest's lakes attract both campers and a variety of wildlife. One example, Dog Lake, lined with big juniper and Ponderosa trees, is said to have the best Largemouth bass fishing in the Forest. In the nearby wet meadows, Sandhill cranes build their nests and raise their chicks. The stillness of Dog Lake is often punctured by the scream of a soaring Bald eagle, the honk of passing Canadian geese, and the noisy chatter of Yellow-headed blackbirds.

West of Paisley, Oregon, about 3-miles east from Gearhart Mountain Wilderness, and in the middle of an extensive trail system, are Campbell Lake and Deadhorse Lake campgrounds. Here the lakes and the area's beauty attract many for a hike or a refreshing vacation from the hubbub of modern life. As a matter of fact, Campbell Lake and Dead Horse Lake have been attracting visitors for many decades. In the 1930s, these lakes were popular for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) who would build dugout canoes and spend time in them paddling around the lakes. Today's visitors may find evidence of the CCC's presence in the dugout canoes sunken in the lakes.

Hikers and equestrian campers alike enjoy Silver Creek Marsh campground. Located at the midpoint of a National Recreation Trail (NRT) system, campers can experience Yansay Mountain Trail in one direction or explore Haggar Mountain Trail in the opposite direction. The nearby Silver Creek offers Brook trout fishing for those who prefer to spend the day in camp.

Fishing and trails are two recreational activities the Fremont National Forest has in abundance. There is Lakes Loop out of Campbell Lake campground, Chewaucan Trail from Marster Spring campground, and Fish Lake Trail from Lofton Reservoir campground, to mention just a few. Growing in popularity are hang-gliding and mountain biking. There is an annual hang-gliding competition held here each year called the Blackcap Hang-gliding Competition. While individual mountain bikers are often seen pedaling all over the Forest, caravans of bikers are starting to be seen more often. (Contact the Fremont National Forest for more information about these activities.)

The Forest was named for Captain John C. Fremont who passed this way in 1843. The story goes, Capt. Fremont and his troop were on a ridge in the middle a freezing snow storm when they looked down and saw a huge lake bathed in sunshine. Fremont named the ridge Winter Ridge and the lake, Summer Lake. Today, visitors can retrace some the Capt Fremont's route on the Fremont NRT and, at Fremont Point, view Summer Lake from Winter Ridge, hopefully without the snow storm. Fremont Point can also be accessed by vehicle using several Forest Service roadways but check with Silver Lake Ranger District for road conditions first.

Along with a view of Summer Lake, visitors can see State Route 31, Oregon's Outback National Scenic Byway, where it roughly follows Fremont's eastern boundary and stretches through some of the most breath-taking high desert landscape in the state. The Byway stretches through a vast valley dotted with tiny communities, a couple of enormous lakes, and lonely ranches with fields of hay, alfalfa, and sagebrush. On the eastern horizon, Abert Rim, one of the most spectacular fault scarps in the country, towers over the valley. Also the tallest geologic fault in the nation, Abert Rim is where many hang-gliders soar above the desert, looking down on the Forest, sailing free with the eagles.

In the Fremont National Forest finding a place of peace and quiet is easy. Here, the land can stretch as far as the eye can see and beauty is all around. Visitors can hike up a draw through groves of aspen, across a little creek, to either towering cliffs of rim rock or lush deep valleys. Or, visitors can drive across juniper-dotted meadows through canyons to stands of massive Ponderosa pine. This is an unpretentious country where what you see is what you get. The Fremont National Forest is a good place for family vacations or quiet place to enjoy one's own company.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 1301 South G Street Lakeview, Oregon 97630 541-947-2151 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Bly POB 25 61100 Hwy 140 Bly, Oregon 97622 541-353-2427 Lakeview POB 60 18049 Hwy. 395 Lakeview, Oregon 97630 541-947-3334 Paisley P.O.B. 67 303 Hwy. 31 Paisley, Oregon 97636 541-943-3114 Silver Lake P.O.B. 129 Hwy.31 Silver Lake, Oregon 97638 541-576-2107

Fred and Suzi Dow