News Releases

Recent changes restrict primitive camping along Columbia River

Portland District
Published May 27, 2021
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials find multiple campers, debris and resource damage, June 2, 2020 at The Wall Park near The Dalles Dam, Ore. 

Due to similar issues, as well as other safety and public health concerns, the Corps has transitioned from primitive camping to day-use only in some areas, and a maximum of seven days of primitive camping within a 30-day consecutive period.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials find multiple campers, debris and resource damage, June 2, 2020 at The Wall Park near The Dalles Dam, Ore. Due to similar issues, as well as other safety and public health concerns, the Corps has transitioned from primitive camping to day-use only in some areas, and a maximum of seven days of primitive camping within a 30-day consecutive period.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials find debris and waste at an abandoned campsite, April 2, 2018 at Threemile Park near John Day Dam, Ore. 

Due to similar issues, as well as other safety and public health concerns, the Corps has transitioned from primitive camping to day-use only in some areas, and a maximum of seven days of primitive camping within a 30-day consecutive period.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials find debris and waste at an abandoned campsite, April 2, 2018 at Threemile Park near John Day Dam, Ore. Due to similar issues, as well as other safety and public health concerns, the Corps has transitioned from primitive camping to day-use only in some areas, and a maximum of seven days of primitive camping within a 30-day consecutive period.

Some campers may be surprised by recent closures and changes to primitive camping near The Dalles and John Day dams along the Columbia River, that began November 1, 2020. These include a transition from primitive camping to day-use only in some areas, and a maximum of seven days of primitive camping within a 30-day consecutive period at all areas.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District implemented these changes – in part – because of illegal dumping, resource destruction and vandalism at these sites. These issues have increased clean-up costs, made conditions undesirable for visitors and natural resources and impacted park ranger and law enforcement resources. 

“Our goal is to provide the best recreation experience we can for all users while also protecting resources,” said Melissa Rinehart, Portland District Natural Resource Management chief. “These changes continue to provide free camping options, while improving park environments and safety for visitors and staff.”

Closures will also allow the Corps to make park improvements, reduce costs for removal of debris and abandoned property, improve public and staff safety, and improve protection of park resources. 

These changes are the result of planning efforts that began in 2012 and the completion of the Mid-Columbia River Regional Master Plan in 2020 that included public input comment periods. All planning efforts identified management changes to primitive camping as critical in achieving sustainable recreation and resource protection.

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The Dalles Lock and Dam

Recreation Site

Camping Designation

Avery Park

  • Primitive camping permitted April 1-October 31. 
  • Camping limited to 7 days within a 30-consecutive day period.
  • No public use during commercial treaty fishing seasons.

Celilo Park

  • Primitive camping permitted April 1-October 31. 
  • Tent Camping Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings only.
  • Camping limited to 7 days within a 30-consecutive day period.

Rufus Landing

  • Primitive camping permitted April 1-October 31. 
  • Camping limited to 7 days within a 30-consecutive day period.
 

*Camping prohibited at all other Corps-managed areas at The Dalles Lock and Dam.

 

John Day Lock and Dam

Recreation Site

Camping Designation

Giles French Park

  • Primitive camping permitted April 1-October 31. 
  • Camping limited to 7 days within a 30-consecutive day period.

LePage Campground

  • Developed camping permitted April 15-October 15. 
  • Camping limited to 14 days within a 30-consecutive day period.

LePage Overflow Camping

  • Primitive camping permitted April 15-October 31. 
  • Camping limited to 14 days within a 30-consecutive day period.

Philippi Park

  • Primitive boat-in only camping permitted May 15-September 15.
  • Camping limited to 7 days within a 30-consecutive day period.

Plymouth Campground

  • Developed camping permitted April 15-October 15. 
  • Camping limited to 14 days within a 30-consecutive day period.

Roosevelt Park

  • Primitive camping permitted April 1-October 31. 
  • Tent Camping Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings only.
  • Camping limited to 7 days within a 30-consecutive day period.

Sundale Park

  • Primitive camping permitted April 1-October 31. 
  • Camping limited to 7 days within a 30-consecutive day period.
  • No public use during commercial treaty fishing seasons.

Threemile Canyon Park

  • Primitive camping permitted April 1-October 31. 
  • Camping limited to 7 days within a 30-consecutive day period.

Paradise Park

  • Developed group camping permitted by reservation only April 15-October 15. Call 509-783-1270.
  • Camping limited to 14 days within a 30-consecutive day period.
 

*Camping prohibited at all other Corps managed areas at John Day Lock and Dam.

 

Portland District’s 150th Birthday: Portland District is one of the nation’s most comprehensive and diverse civil works programs and has been supporting the people of Oregon and southwest Washington since 1871. Throughout its 150-year history, the District has been operating locks and dams along the Columbia River, managing flood risks in the Willamette Valley and Rogue River Basin, maintaining Oregon's coastal waterways for navigation, and leading the Nation in hydropower generation. The team of more than 1,400 civil servants manage these missions all while ensuring equal attention is paid to environmental protection and restoration, fish and wildlife enhancement, and world-class recreation opportunities.


Contact
Tom Conning
503-403-9378
edward.t.conning@usace.army.mil

Release no. 21-025

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