The Fremont National Forest, of the Fremont-Winema National
Forests, is in south-central Oregon and consists of
1,201,194 acres. There are twelve developed campgrounds of which
eight meet the selection criteria.
A wide variety of recreational opportunities, from hiking to hang
gliding, can be found in the Fremont National Forest but don't
look for any camping locations with "hot tubs, glitz or glitter."
This is a Forest for basic family tent and motorhome camping.
There isn't a recreation vehicle (RV) park-style campground in
this Forest. Fremont National Forest is a place where visitors
are surrounded by stands of large Sugar and Ponderosa pine,
lush meadows dotted with juniper, or hillsides of aspen. Soft-eyed,
big-eared mule deer are everywhere, goshawks soar across a big
blue sky, and Redband trout and Yellow perch grow fat in the wind
rippled lakes. This Forest is special in its rustic, pristine character
and offers many memorable experiences.
Camping in Fremont National Forest falls into two categories, which
is defined by the Forest Service as campgrounds and forest camps.
"Forest camps" are located in quiet, secluded areas with minimal
on-site control. This style camping includes vault toilets, picnic
tables and fire rings. Silver Creek Marsh, Lofton Reservoir, and
Dog Lake fall into this category. Perhaps the best features of
forest camps are the solitude, seclusion and sheer beauty found
at many of the campgrounds. Also, most have good access to some
great trails and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
With good drinking water, defined boundaries, and a higher level
of maintenance, Thompson Reservoir, Eastbay, Marster Spring,
Campbell Lake, and Deadhorse Lake campgrounds fall into the
"campground" category. "Campgrounds" tend to have better
maintained access routes and more campers (can be crowded
especially on holiday weekends) staying at them. One constant
feature at either camping location is the beauty that surrounds
The Fremont National Forest is located on block-fault mountains
that line a high-desert valley nicknamed the Oregon Outback.
With a seemingly barren desert so close, the Forest's lakes
attract both campers and a variety of wildlife. One example, Dog
Lake, lined with big juniper and Ponderosa trees, is said to have
the best Largemouth bass fishing in the Forest. In the nearby
wet meadows, Sandhill cranes build their nests and raise their
chicks. The stillness of Dog Lake is often punctured by the scream
of a soaring Bald eagle, the honk of passing Canadian geese, and
the noisy chatter of Yellow-headed blackbirds.
West of Paisley, Oregon, about 3-miles east from Gearhart
Mountain Wilderness, and in the middle of an extensive trail
system, are Campbell Lake and Deadhorse Lake campgrounds. Here
the lakes and the area's beauty attract many for a hike or a
refreshing vacation from the hubbub of modern life. As a matter
of fact, Campbell Lake and Dead Horse Lake have been attracting
visitors for many decades. In the 1930s, these lakes were
popular for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) who would build
dugout canoes and spend time in them paddling around the lakes.
Today's visitors may find evidence of the CCC's presence in the
dugout canoes sunken in the lakes.
Hikers and equestrian campers alike enjoy Silver Creek Marsh
campground. Located at the midpoint of a National Recreation
Trail (NRT) system, campers can experience Yansay Mountain Trail
in one direction or explore Haggar Mountain Trail in the opposite
direction. The nearby Silver Creek offers Brook trout fishing
for those who prefer to spend the day in camp.
Fishing and trails are two recreational activities the Fremont
National Forest has in abundance. There is Lakes Loop out of
Campbell Lake campground, Chewaucan Trail from Marster Spring
campground, and Fish Lake Trail from Lofton Reservoir campground,
to mention just a few. Growing in popularity are hang-gliding
and mountain biking. There is an annual hang-gliding competition
held here each year called the Blackcap Hang-gliding Competition.
While individual mountain bikers are often seen pedaling all over
the Forest, caravans of bikers are starting to be seen more
often. (Contact the Fremont National Forest for more
information about these activities.)
The Forest was named for Captain John C. Fremont who passed this
way in 1843. The story goes, Capt. Fremont and his troop were on
a ridge in the middle a freezing snow storm when they looked down
and saw a huge lake bathed in sunshine. Fremont named the ridge
Winter Ridge and the lake, Summer Lake. Today, visitors can
retrace some the Capt Fremont's route on the Fremont NRT and, at
Fremont Point, view Summer Lake from Winter Ridge, hopefully
without the snow storm. Fremont Point can also be accessed by
vehicle using several Forest Service roadways but check with
Silver Lake Ranger District for road conditions first.
Along with a view of Summer Lake, visitors can see State Route
31, Oregon's Outback National Scenic Byway, where it roughly
follows Fremont's eastern boundary and stretches through some of
the most breath-taking high desert landscape in the state. The
Byway stretches through a vast valley dotted with tiny
communities, a couple of enormous lakes, and lonely ranches
with fields of hay, alfalfa, and sagebrush. On the eastern horizon,
Abert Rim, one of the most spectacular fault scarps in the country,
towers over the valley. Also the tallest geologic fault in the nation,
Abert Rim is where many hang-gliders soar above the desert, looking
down on the Forest, sailing free with the eagles.
In the Fremont National Forest finding a place of peace and quiet is easy.
Here, the land can stretch as far as the eye can see and beauty is all
around. Visitors can hike up a draw through groves of aspen, across a
little creek, to either towering cliffs of rim rock or lush deep valleys. Or,
visitors can drive across juniper-dotted meadows through canyons to
stands of massive Ponderosa pine. This is an unpretentious country
where what you see is what you get. The Fremont National Forest is a
good place for family vacations or quiet place to enjoy one's own
1301 South G Street
Lakeview, Oregon 97630
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
61100 Hwy 140
Bly, Oregon 97622
18049 Hwy. 395
Lakeview, Oregon 97630
303 Hwy. 31
Paisley, Oregon 97636
Silver Lake, Oregon 97638