Home for the night at Farewell Bend State Recreation Area, Eastern Oregon

After a winter spent working on a long list of house renovation projects, we are finally back on the road! Night one of our 7 week, 2,500 mile spring fling was spent at Farewell Bend State Recreation Area in Eastern Oregon. After following the Snake River for 330 miles, Oregon Trail emigrants rested above the bend in the river here, then bid farewell to the river and continued their trek. The site also proved a lovely resting stop for our first day back on the road.

Farewell Bend State Recreation Area (click here for map and brochure) is located on the Oregon/Idaho border northwest of Ontario, Oregon on the banks of the Snake River’s Brownlee Reservoir. The park is open year-round for day-use and camping from March 1 – November 30. The day-use area features a paved boat ramp, horseshoe pits, sand volleyball court, basketball court and picnic areas with abundant shade to counter the triple digit summer heat. Restored covered wagons and an Oregon Trail kiosk are a must see at the park’s entrance.  

The campground offers 91 sites with water and electrical hookups and 30 tent sites. Antelope and Brownlee loops are open from May 1 – October 31. Catfish Loop is open from March 1 – November 30. Amenities include showers, restrooms, RV dump station with potable water, and ice and firewood for sale. The park also offers a hiker/biker camp, group tent camp, and two log cabins.

We arrived at Farewell Bend on March 11 to find a “campground full” sign displayed at the entrance. I didn’t see how that could be possible given the location, time of year, and the fact that we were arriving mid-week. Sure enough, we pulled into a completely empty Catfish Loop—exactly what I was hoping for. We circled the loop and picked one of the two 90 foot pull through sites. This allowed us to leave the trailer hooked-up to the truck for our short stay. We had a lovely river view and ended up sharing the loop with just a handful of other RVs that evening.

We had a few hours to relax after getting camp set up which provided us the opportunity to enjoy the pleasant weather and walk around the park. Catfish Loop appears to be a newer loop. It had very little for shade trees, but the sites were roomy and easy to navigate and many sites had a nice river view. Antelope Loop had mature trees and shorter sites more suited to tents and smaller RVs. Brownlee Loop also had mature shade trees, but also had a lot of shrubs that provided nice privacy between sites. It had many pull thru sites, making it perfect for bigger RVs; however, all of the mature foliage would require some careful navigation so as not to scratch your rig. Those camping here in the summer would want to consider Antelope or Brownlee for the shade as this area can get very hot. For shoulder season camping, we recommend Catfish Loop for the views. For all loops: beware! Canadian geese love this area and there are a lot of green bombs on the ground that you’ll want to avoid while walking!

We really enjoyed our stay at Farewell Bend. Sure, part of that was just being out for the first time in months! But it was also a lovely stop. The few neighbors we had were friendly and fun to chat with. The bathrooms were impeccably clean and actually included soap and paper towels for hand washing. We did not use the showers, but they looked clean and were free. Water to our site was still shut off for the winter; however, potable water was available at the bathroom. Temperatures for our visit in early March were 58 during the day and 37 at night. The park was peaceful and quiet for the duration of our stay. We would definitely stay here again and recommend it to others passing through the area.

The river was very low during our visit

Logistics

Farewell Bend State Recreation Area is located 25 miles northwest of Ontario, Oregon. Take exit 353 off I-84 and follow US 30 approximately 1.5 miles north to the park. There is a new truck stop as you exit the interstate, but there are no other amenities in the immediate area.

As of the writing of this post, there are some COVID restrictions still in effect for Oregon State Parks. Please visit their website for the latest information. Masks were required inside the Farewell Bend restrooms and the park office was closed. Maintaining social distancing was easy at this location thanks to off-season conditions. Please recreate responsibly and remember—leave no trace.

View from our dinette window

One Reply to “Oregon’s Farewell Bend State Recreation Area: Following in the Emigrant’s Footsteps”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.