How would campgrounds be improved?

When the Eagle Creek campground, picnic area and spectacular hiking trail were developed in the Columbia Gorge in the early 1900s, they represented a first of their kind in the United States, and established a blueprint for what developed recreation would look like on our federal lands.

The legacy of Eagle Creek is a tradition of camping that spans public lands across the country, and the Eagle Creek campground is still a popular destination here. However, other campgrounds in the Mount Hood and Gorge areas have not been so lucky, with dozens closed or destroyed by logging over the past forty years.

The Mount Hood National Park proposal calls for building many new campgrounds, often in proximity to historic campgrounds that once existed. Some exissting campgrounds would be relocated away from noisy highways to restore a nature experience that growing traffic has impacted over the years.

The new campgrounds would also be modernized to better focus on "weekender" visits by tent and yurt campers, following the successful formula established by Oregon State Parks in recent years. The state parks continue to provide traditional camping spots for visitors carrying their own tent or pulling a trailer, but also feature yurts and frame tents onsite that can be rented along with the campsite.

The yurts and frame tents have proven to be highly popular alternatives that have drawn new campers to the state park system. Like the state parks, the Mount hood National Park campgrounds would also include rest rooms, showers and other amenities that encourage visits from a broader spectrum of campers.

The new campgrounds would also be more carefully designed as recreation hubs, with radiating trail networks for hiking and biking, fishing, swimming or boating facilities. But the unifying theme for the campgrounds would be an emphasis on nature, and connecting visitors with the environment. Campgrounds would also include special facilities for elderly and disabled visitors, allowing less able-bodied campers to have access to barrier-free outdoor activities within the campground site.

Some of the new campgrounds would also be specifically geared to cycling and horseback riding, with secure bike storage and corral facilities, and access to a radiating network of bicycle or equestrian trails.