By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Many people enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of camping away from developed campgrounds and other campers.
It’s called “dispersed camping.” It is perfectly legal and hugely popular.
No picnic tables, no toilets, no trash cans, no fire rings, no treated water.
If you want it, you bring it, and you take it with you when you leave.
“We do allow dispersed camping throughout the Deschutes National Forest as do most national forests. The limit on camping in any one spot is 14 days,” said Jean Nelson Dean, Public Affairs Officer for the Deschutes National Forest. “People need to obey forest closures and other regulations. People can only travel 300 feet off an open road and they have to camp 30 feet away from a water source: a spring, stream or lake.”
A new popular spot has sprouted near Bend – and anyone who’s driven up Century Drive has noticed.
Dean says people who camp in the forest across Century Drive from Widgi Creek Golf Course a perfectly in their rights to do so.
Done right, dispersed campers avoid trampling vegetation by using previously created spots that are down to bare soil.
This time of year when it’s so dry, that means dust.
Dispersed campers should not camp in the middle of a clearing or a meadow and they should try to make their campsite less visible so that other visitors see a “wild” setting.
“A lot of those folks they want to camp outside a campground because they don’t want to pay for a campground,” Dean said. “Right now we are seeing extreme levels of people visiting the forest. Really record-setting levels and a lot of people are doing it in a dispersed setting.”
Typically, dispersed camping is not allowed near any developed facilities such as campgrounds, boat ramps and trailheads like Phil’s Trail.
Don’t even think about having a campfire anywhere when you are dispersed camping this time of year.
With the extreme fire danger, cooking fire must be elevated fire off the ground and contained within a propane or gas stove.