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Guest Author | 07/25/2022 | Camping & RV Parks, Hotels & Lodging, Outdoor Recreation

Where to Go Camping Around Corvallis This Summer

Summertime is here, which means it’s time to enjoy s’mores around the campfire and nights under the stars. And around Corvallis, you’ll have no shortage of opportunities for memorable camping experiences—from tent sites on the slopes of Marys Peak to an old-school guard station along the Alsea River.

So as you plan your summertime getaways, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite campgrounds around Corvallis, along with what you’ll find in each and how to make the most of your outing.

Sitting on the slopes of the tallest peak in the Oregon Coast Range, Marys Peak Campground makes an excellent, if quiet base camp for a weekend of exploration on Marys Peak.

The small campground hosts six tent-only sites, each running $10 per night and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Sites include a campfire ring and picnic table; more broadly, the campground also offers vault toilets. (Be sure to bring your own drinking water, though, as none is available within the campground.)

The campground sits just below the summit of Marys Peak, offering easy access to its day-use area and the summertime wildflower meadows dotting its slopes.

If planning a night or two on Marys Peak, note that the campground may fill to capacity on summer weekends; try to arrive on Thursday, if possible, or show up early in the day on Friday to secure your spot.

If you’re looking for a quiet night or two in the heart of the Oregon Coast Range, angle for one of the dozen or so shady tent and RV sites at Big Elk Campground.

The quiet campground, where all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, doesn’t see a ton of use (other than cyclists and backpackers traversing the Corvallis-to-the-Sea Trail)—all the better for a quiet weekend of hiking, fishing, and relaxation along Big Elk Creek, which runs through the campground.

Sites run $10 per night and include a campfire ring and picnic table, as well as easy access to vault toilets and drinking water. Note that hookups are not available. In summer, firewood can be purchased from the on-site camp host.

Sitting along the banks of the bubbling Alsea River, Salmonberry County Park and Campground hosts 28 sites—13 RV sites with electricity, 14 tent sites, and one wheelchair-accessible site—as well as one yurt and one cabin (both with electricity and heat—but no running water) for campers of all types.

The semi-shaded campground sits about 45 minutes southwest of Corvallis, in the heart of the Oregon Coast Range, and boasts a family-friendly atmosphere with drinking water, flush restrooms, coin-operated showers, campfire rings at each site, and an open field that doubles as the park's play area. Boaters can take advantage of the on-site boat ramp, as well. Most sites can be reserved, but some tent sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis; Salmonberry County Park and Campground is open May-October.

Alsea Falls Recreation Site has a little of everything for outdoor enthusiasts in all seasons. In winter and spring, is the best time to view the area’s namesake waterfall as it tumbles in the South Fork Alsea River. In spring, summer, and fall, the Alsea Falls Trail System challenges mountain bikers with several miles of flow-style trails. And between April and October, the Alsea Falls Recreation Site Campground welcomes visitors enjoying it all—or who just want a relaxing getaway in the Oregon Coast Range.

In all, the campground at Alsea Falls Recreation Site hosts 16 campsites, some of which are suitable for trailers and RVs up to 32 feet long; each site includes a campfire ring and picnic table, while other amenities include drinking water and vault toilets—not to mention close proximity to nearby attractions. All sites must be reserved in advance through Recreation.gov, and the booking window opens six months in advance. The campground typically fills on sunny summer weekends, so aim for a midweek stay for a quieter experience.

There are few more fascinating overnight stays in the region than Alsea Guard Station, which sits just across the street from the Alsea River and is rooted in Benton County history.

The long-standing building, which dates back to the Great Depression era, typically housed forest firefighters—and remained an important outpost until it shuttered in 2012.

Today, the renovated cabin offers central heating, running water, a bathroom (with a shower), two bedrooms, an outdoor barbecue, and other fun amenities. (Note that the kitchen includes a microwave, refrigerator, and freezer—but no stove or oven.) It sits just across the highway from Mill Creek Park, which hosts a boat ramp into the Alsea River, making the cabin a fun destination for anglers. The guard station is available to rent year-round, making it an ideal off-season getaway for couples, families, and groups looking for a bit of solitude.

We’re excited for you to see the scenic campgrounds around Benton County, but we wanted to share a few tips for staying safe and having fun outdoors this summer.

Campfires: For many, campfires are an essential part of the overnight experience. But please be mindful of any burn bans that are in effect, and only start fires in designated campfire grills or fire rings; these are designed to contain fires and stop sparks from escaping.

Reservations: Many of Benton County’s most popular campgrounds fill up weeks in advance, but last-minute cancellations happen—so don’t be shy about scouring reservation sites to see if something opens up. (Pro tip: Last-minute sites are far more common before Independence Day and after Labor Day—and can be plentiful for midweek stays.) And if all else fails, plenty of campgrounds around the region host sites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Drinking water: Some—but not all—campgrounds offer drinking water to campers. If you aren’t sure whether your destination does, it can’t hurt to bring a few jugs just to be safe. Be sure to bring enough for yourself and to douse your possible campfire at the end of the night.

Article by Matthew Wastradowski. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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