Oregon State Parks

Rustic lodging at an Oregon state park. Credit: Jamie Hale

Oregon state park campgrounds were packed in 2021, as locals and tourists alike left the comforts of their homes to sleep under the stars, among evergreen forests and beside the gentle roar of the ocean, according to the East Oregonian.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department reported a total of 3,026,756 camper nights last year, far outpacing the pandemic-impaired numbers from 2020, and eclipsing the three million mark for the first time, the department said.

In-state park parlance a “camper night” is one camper spending one night at a campsite. A family of four spending two nights in a tent, for example, would equal eight camper nights. And since virtually every campground saw a dip in numbers during statewide park closures in 2020, it’s more useful to compare the recent numbers to those in 2019, when state park campgrounds were in the midst of a huge surge in popularity.

Most of the growth in 2021 came on the Oregon Coast, which saw a 9% increase in camper nights over 2019 — the only region in the state to see an overall increase last year. More than a third of that increase came from the massive campground at Fort Stevens State Park outside Astoria, which alone saw 343,485 camper nights last year, far more than any other.

Parks department spokesman Chris Havel said the data show a continued trend of midweek camping in the summer, as well as weekend and holiday camping in the fall, winter and spring. The numbers also continue a significant uptick in state park camping that began in 2012, a trend that park officials see as a win.

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