Oregon’s Champoeg State Heritage Area Campground (With Kristy from Willa Wanders)

The RV Atlas Podcast
Oregon’s Champoeg State Heritage Area Campground (With Kristy from Willa Wanders)

The Pacific Northwest is one of the greatest places in America for camping and outdoor adventure. Our 26-day trip to Washington State, Oregon, and the California Redwoods was one for the record books. We are definitely jonesing for a return trip. When we do return we definitely want to camp at Champoeg State Heritage Area. On this week’s episode of The RV Atlas podcast we are thrilled to welcome Kristy Dobie from Willa Wanders on to the show for a terrific review of this campground and all of the awesome things you can see and do (and eat and drink) nearby.

To listen to Jeremy interview Kristy please click on the media player above–or subscribe to the RV Atlas wherever you get your favorite shows! Or just read on for this guest post from Kristy. It has all of the details you need to plan a trip to Champoeg and the Willamette Valley. Thanks to Kristy for sharing her knowledge of the area and for sharing her wonderful photos!

Kristy Dobie from @willawanders

Photo by Kristy Dobie

Since 2019, Kristy Dobie has hit the road with Willa, her Airstream Trailer. With her adventurous pup, and Sony camera by her side, she has documented the journey on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media accounts. @WillaWanders is an RV and outdoor travel account that features landscape, wildlife, travel, and lifestyle photography, as well as travel itineraries and tips. Since Kristy also worked as a teacher for over a decade, conservation education is woven into her travel content with the hopes of inspiring action and respect for nature. More recently, Kristy has added international travel to her list of adventures by hosting group trips with likeminded travelers.

Champoeg State Heritage Area and The Willamette Valley

Photo by Kristy Dobie

The Willamette Valley is a large region of Oregon that includes fertile farmland from outside of Portland down south of Eugene. Champoeg State Heritage Area is perfectly situated 7 miles east of the town of Newberg and is surrounded by wine country and some excellent dining. This is a great spot to use as a basecamp to explore Northern Oregon, including day trips to the Oregon Coast or the Columbia Gorge and Mount Hood.

Champoeg State Heritage Area is special because it helps preserve the history of the region. Unlike many other mountainous parts of our state, this campground is in a more pastoral setting along the Willamette River.

There are lots of walking and biking paths that wind through groves of trees and pastures that are home to deer and many bird species. Families may also enjoy visiting the historical museums on site or making use of the fishing and boating dock. The campground is great for a variety of campers since it includes cabin and yurt rentals as well as tent and RV camping. 

Photo by Kristy Dobie

There are three different aspects of history that local museums like to focus on: the time prior to 1840, the start of Oregon’s state government, and the area’s historical importance as a transportation hub.

Prior to 1840: The Champoeg prairie was home to Kalapuya Indians. Their tribe used the area for hunting, fishing, and gathering camas bulbs, which were a staple in their diet. In 1811, fur trappers first visited the area.

The Seeds of Government: Let’s flash forward to 1841 –  area settlers began holding meetings that were appropriately known as “wolf meetings” so they could discuss problems with predators. Eventually, the meetings began discussing larger issues, and in 1843, the settlers narrowly voted to establish a new provisional government for the area.

Transportation Hub: Champoeg is also known as a historical transportation hub. Although this provisional government moved in 1844, Champoeg’s location on the river made it a regular stop for stagecoaches and steam boats. Champoeg remained an important transportation link until a disastrous flood led to its total abandonment in 1892.

The Campground at Champoeg State Heritage Area

Photo by Kristy Dobie

There are two main loops in the campground with a mix of the following site types:

  • 21 full-hookup sites (sewer, electricity, water) and
  • 67 electric sites with water and
  • 6 tent sites
  • 6 yurts (D,E & F are pet friendly) and
  • 6 cabins (C4, C5 and C6 are pet friendly)
  • 3 group tent camping areas
  • RV group camping loop with meeting hall
  • Hiker/biker camp

For RVers, the B loop has more spacious sites and full hookups. Some of those spots are pull-thru, too. During peak season, which is generally from late spring through the fall, weekend spots will regularly sell out in advance. But with many sites available, it’s common to find last-minute cancellations online. So keep checking if the dates that you’re hoping to book are full.

In the A loop of the campground, spots are closer together and many lack privacy. But the B loop is much better in that regards.

Water and electric sites are currently $31 per night. Full hookup sites are a whopping $2 more at $33 per night.

Amenities are limited–but they do offer the following:

  • Flush toilets and hot showers
  • RV dump station
  • Ice and Campfire wood for purchase (suggestion: buy locally to prevent spread of pests)

in addition to the prairies, forest, riverside paths, and well-maintained campground, you may also want to visit the visitor center or tour the pioneer village, barn, and farmstead. 

Pro tips from a local: Do not use an umbrella or you’ll look like a tourist. We wear rain coats with hoods year round. Like most places in Oregon, waterproof shoes are helpful when visiting during the rainy season (late fall through spring)

Best Time of Year To Visit?

You will experience the best weather from late spring through fall. Rain isn’t uncommon, even into June. July and August bring dry/hot weather. We do occasionally see a week with triple digits in summer. The fall is a beautiful time of year to visit Oregon. Just know that depending on the severity of wildfires, some regions may be smoky in August and September. (Usually this applies to the Columbia Gorge and Central Oregon, like Bend)

Things To Do In and Around the Willamette Valley

Photo by Kristy Dobie

  • One of the advantages of this location is how many day trips you can take in the area!
  • From this campsite, it would take approximately 30-40 mins to visit downtown Portland:
    • Oregon Zoo is excellent and known for their state-of-the-art elephant habitat
    • Hike forest park – At 5,200 acres, Portland’s Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the United States.
    • Walk along the river at the waterfront
    • Visit one of the many gardens: Rose Garden, Japanese Garden
  • just under two hours to visit the iconic haystack rocks in Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast
  • about 2 hours to visit Mount Hood or the scenic Columbia Gorge:
    • Multnomah Falls – iconic waterfall in Oregon with bridge across the front
    • Incredible hiking – check alltrails for current conditions
    • Try a brewery in Hood River
    • Drive the Fruit Loop, especially in the fall, visiting farms/vineyards/local artisans along the way
    • Make time to stop for ice cream and amazing food at the very instagramable Sugar Pine Drive Inn
  • Most popular activity in the area is wine tasting:
    • Wine Tasting: Stoller – one of the most well-known vineyards in the region. Always delicious and amazing views.
    •  Sokol Blosser – beautiful tasting room, excellent charcuterie board
    • Archer Vineyards (which also has an RV resort located at one of their tasting rooms) – great staff
    • Hazlefern Cellars (family owned, could not be nicer, fun playlists!)
    • Chris James Cellars (delicious wine, Harvest Host location)
    • Argyle Winery for sparkling wine.
    • Be sure to try an Oregon Pinot

Recommendations for Food and Drink

Photo by Kristy Dobie

If you’re a foodie, you’re in the right spot! Wine country is full of amazing places to eat!

  • Breakfast:
    • From Russia with Love- coffee, tea, smoothies, russian foods. I suggest trying a savory pastry with your drink from their drive-through coffee cart.
  • Lunch/Dinner:
    • Local burger chain: Burgerville. Try the seasonal milkshakes.
    • Red Hills Market: upscale food market with great options for picnics or dining in: pizzas, sandwiches, and more. This is very popular, even with locals.
    • Lemon and Olive: Great gyros with deliciously seasoned smash potatoes on the side
    • Rosmarino Osteria: Authentic italian. You have to try the burrata, which melts in your mouth. Be sure to get reservations in advance.
    • Trellis: burgers, pasta – everything is delicious and servers are friendly. Try for lunch or dinner.
    • Fine dining: Jory at the Allison Inn. It’s very upscale, but offers delicious high-end food in a beautiful resort and spa environment. I’ll also add that their spa is incredible if you are in need of relaxation.

Thanks again to Kristy for joining us on the podcast and sharing her knowledge of the campground (and the entire region) right here on the blog! We hope to have Kristy back on the show again soon! In the meantime–make sure you follow all of her adventures at Willa Wanders!

The RV Atlas Podcast
Oregon’s Champoeg State Heritage Area Campground (With Kristy from Willa Wanders)

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