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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BLM offers free camping until April 1

It's not often, especially in the current economy, that RVers are offered a freebie that is not only of monetary value but also appreciated. Such is the case with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) when they announced that they would stop charging camping fees at campgrounds along central Oregon's Lower Crooked River corridor.

Granted, most RVers in the Pacific Northwest have either followed the snowbirds south for the winter or parked their rigs for use only for the occasional nice weekend outing, which unfortunately doesn't happen often on the Pacific Coast of Oregon and Washington.

But the Crooked River area (photo-left), along with the area stretching from Prineville to the Reservoir (photo- top), is on the eastern side of the Cascades, and as a result doesn't receive the amount of rain and snow that fall on the coast and mountains.

It can get cold (ten day forecast predicts highs around 40 degrees and lows into the mid-twenties) but if you are a hardy RVer, you can at least save the $8 camping fee--which may help to warm you up.  The BLM is extending the free camping until April 1, and certainly within that time frame there will be some good weather moving in for a few days, just long enough to have a nice getaway. Prineville is only an hour from Bend, three hours from Portland.

There are advantages in off season camping if you can time the weather right. You will find most campgrounds closed, but when the BLM decides to leave them open (thanks, BLM), they will still be mostly empty, and if there are campers you can surely find a nice private spot of your own. The crispy winter air can be invigorating, especially when on a hike, tracking wildlife, or road touring with frequent stops to stretch your legs.

You will find no crowds, and no partying teenagers on the weekends. With fewer people out and about, wildlife is easier to spot, often visiting your campsite out of curiosity. And, having fulltimed for more than 17 years, I often stayed around long after the snowbirds left just to experience the solitude, and chilly nights under a mound of blankets with a good book, catalytic heater keeping the cold at bay, solar panels giving us just enough to keep our batteries up, and enjoying invigorating hikes.

Then when we had enough, and our bones started creaking with the cold, we pulled up stakes and turned south. That's the beauty of RVing. When we wanted to go, we went, and within a few days were in shorts and T-shirts under a bright desert sun. Just can't beat the RV Lifestyle.

Check out Bob Difley's Boondocking and Snowbird Guide eBooks at

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