Frequently Asked Camping Questions
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- How do we make a reservation? All reservations for US Forest Service campgrounds are made through the National Reservation Recreation Service (NRRS) either on their website, recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777 (toll free). Reservations for our privately owned RV parks in Oregon are made by calling each individual RV park or for general information by calling Hoodoo at 541-338-7869. If you start with our website, each page of our website has link connections to the recreation.gov website. You will probably get your best information if you start with our website, www.hoodoo.com and then click on the site number or their logo to transfer over to their website. Either way, start the process by going to the specific campground page that interests you and work from there. All reservations made for US Forest Service campgrounds are made through a private agency over which Hoodoo has little or no control. If you have problems with them, it doesn’t hurt to let us know, but please realize that there will be little or nothing that we will be able to do about it except turn in your complaint. There is a fee for making reservations that is lower if you use the Internet. That fee is how the reservation company makes its money.
- Do I need a reservation? No, all the campgrounds have around 40% of the campsites as first come first serve sites (except the group campgrounds). Midweek the campgrounds are almost never full, and a reservation isn’t needed unless you want a specific site. The most crowded camping weekends are Memorial Day Weekend, July 4 Weekend, and Labor Day Weekend.
- Do you have to have a reservation to camp in a reserveable site? No, this is the most common mistake that people make. All reserveable sites have tags showing when they are reserved next. If the site is not reserved at that time, you may take the site as a first come-first serve site. However, if you are staying longer than three days, be careful because people can make reservations within a four day window, so if you are planning on a long term stay, camping in a reservation site might be risky. It is possible that you might have to move if it becomes reserved.
- Are Dogs allowed? Yes. They must be on a leash at all times and picked up after
- Which campground is the best? That depends upon your needs. However, we have a description of the areas on the District pages and of the campground on the campground pages. Read those descriptions, and that may help. If you still can’t figure out which campground meets your needs, call us at 541-338-7869 or send an email to us at email@example.com, and we’ll do our best to help you.
- Why do Hoodoo and/or the Forest Service charge day use fees? In some places, day use fees are new in others they have been charged for many years. Our feeling at Hoodoo is that it is a matter of fairness. We have a certain amount of costs. Part of these costs come from having to haul garbage from, provide toilets for and keep the day use areas free from litter. In is not uncommon for our day use areas to cost us more than a campground site each day. Where there are boat ramps the cost is much more. Someone has to pay those costs. In the past it has been the campers, whose camp fees subsidized the costs incurred for the non overnight user. As camp fees have gone up, it has become more obvious that this is not fair. Without day use fees the camp fees would need to be increased by about at least $1 per evening. This is not a lot, but it still isn’t fair that the campers have to pay for others that for the most part the campers wish were not even there. The Forest Service in some Forests charge a NW Forest Pass fee of $5 per day or $30 for a season pass for a list of specific day use areas that are for the most part outside of the campground areas. Hoodoo charges $5 per day or $25 per season for day use areas that are inside of campgrounds that Hoodoo manages, except for in the Deschutes NF where there is no day use fee. It is a matter of fairness.
- Do you accept the Golden Age or Access cards? Yes, we do honor these cards that give discounts to seniors or those with handicaps. The cards may be obtained from the Forest Service. The cards entitle the holder ONLY to a 50% discount on camping, or an extra vehicle, or a day use pass, and it can only be used once per day for one item. The discount does apply to multisites (a two family site found in some campgrounds), but not to group sites. The card holder may use the card for a discount only if he or she is there. Family members get the benefit if they are camping in the same site with the holder, but they may not use the card without the holder being there for the evening. If the card is used to make a reservation, the holder of the card must be present when the campers arrive or they will be asked to pay for the full amount. A card holder getting a discount for a camping site may not use the card for an extra vehicle on the same day, but if a spouse has a card or another party member, they may use their card. Please email us if you have specific questions.
- Why do campers have to pay fees? A few decades ago (this change actually started in the 1950s) the Forest Service and increasingly other government owned recreation sites realized that they no longer had the budget to run their sites for free. At first they started charging their own fees and in some places they still do. These government fees were normally much less than the cost of running the site, and often were not paid by the customers. So the government turned to private sources, who had a profit motive to make sure the fees were paid. These private concessionaires were allowed to set their own fees as long as the fees were close to what others were charging and that the fee amount meant only low to moderate profits for the private entity (Hoodoo’s profit has averaged 1% of the total gross income over the last decade). Often the companies had other motives other than profit for being in business. For instance Hoodoo also benefits from being able to provide year around jobs for its ski resort employees. This has helped us keep our fees lower. Private concessionaires also help the local areas by paying personal property taxes, room taxes, sales taxes (where appropriate), payroll taxes, charitable contributions, and income taxes.
- Why does Hoodoo charge an extra vehicle fee? One way or another we need to collect enough in fees to cover our cost of maintaining the campgrounds and for making a certain amount of improvements. Some people have suggested it would be more fair to charge by the number of campers. Others want RVs charged more than tent campers. The system of charging a certain fee for the basic campground plus an extra amount for an extra vehicle per night has been the method used for the last decade or two almost everywhere, private or public. In most areas the concessionaire charges more than Hoodoo for the basic camping fee, but less for the extra vehicle. We feel that our system works better because it discourages campers from bringing in extra vehicles that sometimes make the campgrounds look like a giant parking lot. Please understand that if the extra vehicle fee was lower the basic camping fee would be higher. Since a room tax is built into the camping fee, but not the extra vehicle fee, this would mean that the total fees that would have to be charged would go up as well.
- What day is best to start a camping vacation? The most campsites available will be either on Sunday night or Monday night. There is almost always a water side campsite available on Sunday and Monday evenings.
- How do we get more information about the campsites? Information about the campgrounds is available on our website, the recreation.gov site and the US Forest Service site. All of these sites may be linked to through the Hoodoo website. However, other questions are best answered by calling Hoodoo in Oregon at 541-338-7869 for basic information and emergencies. In Washington, in case of emergencies you can call our office on the Mt. Loop Hwy at 360-691-1841. If you call the USFS, they will most likely refer you to these numbers or our website.
- What do the site grades A, B, and C mean? Each campsite in each campground is graded relative to the other campsites in that particular campground. An ‘A’ campsite is considered to be the best one in that campground. A ‘C’ campsite is considered to be the least desirable. The grading considered distance to water, size of campsite, level ground, and beauty of area. The grading is meant to help you know which sites to reserve or which site you might want as you pull into the campground.
- Why is the maximum vehicle size different than the spur size? Even if the spur is long, that doesn’t mean a long vehicle will fit. Maximum size considers the topography of the spur, the curvature, and the entry area getting into the spur. We also consider the roads in the campground. Some campgrounds may have large spurs at their campsites, but winding roads lined with trees might make large RVs inappropriate for the area. A 60 foot spur might be fine for a 20 foot truck pulling a 30 foot trailer, but if we state that the maximum vehicle size is 30 feet, you will not want to try to park a 40 foot RV there.
- What does the RV grade on each campground page mean? Each campground is graded from 0 through 5 to show its suitability to RV camping. Tenters may prefer a campground with a low grade so that they are not around RVs, but large size RV owners will prefer campgrounds with a high grade. A ’5′ means that it has plenty of sites for large luxury RVs and is well suited for RV camping. A ’4′ is slightly less suitable, but still good. A’3′ is not suitable to large size RVs or has only a few limited large sites. A ’2′ is not a good campground for RVs over 30 feet. A ’1′ is not recommended for RVs at all. A ’0′ means no RVs are allowed.
- What is the difference between a ‘Back In’ and a ‘Pull Through’ site? Some sites have long thin spurs that are normally 12 feet wide and made to drive into it from one end and drive out from the other. These ‘pull through’ sites are ideal for vehicles pulling trailers. Most spurs though are ‘back in’ and for those on most we show the width as well as the length. These spurs often allow more than one vehicle to park next to one another, while ‘pull through’ sites would always have its vehicles parking from end to end.
- How do the camper fees get spent? About 20% of the gross fee goes to either paying local taxes or back to the Forest Service in the form of something called a GT fee. This GT fee is reinvested into the campgrounds where the fees were collected. This fee has helped pay for new toilets, picnic tables, signs and other improvements in the campgrounds. Most of the rest of the fee goes toward the every day cleaning that is needed. Hoodoo either has a host living at the campground or sends in an attendant from two to four times a day to clean and do minor maintenance. The fee purchases toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizer, garbage bags and a myriad of other supplies that are needed. It also helps us remove the garbage, provide water in some places, pump septic vaults and provide communication. Over the last ten years of managing campgrounds almost 100% of the campers fees have gone back into the campground or local area thus enhancing the camper’s experience. Very little of our federal taxes are spent to support recreation.
- Why was Hoodoo chosen to manage the campgrounds? Hoodoo Ski Area has been around for over 70 years. Around 1994, the Forest Service approached Hoodoo asking them to start managing some of the local campgrounds around the ski area. Other companies from other states were already managing many of the campgrounds in the Cascades, but the Willamette Forest was having a hard time finding anyone to do the smaller remote campgrounds. Over the years, as Hoodoo has proved itself and has shown that the ski industry and camping industry can work well together, Hoodoo has been encouraged to bid on managing other areas as well. In 1999 Hoodoo started managing all of the Sisters area of the Deschutes. In 2001, Hoodoo started managing the Middle Fork of the Willamette Forest as well as the Willamette campgrounds on Hwy 126 and Hwy 20 near the summit. As Hoodoo started to expand we kept enlarging the amount of services that we were providing, a website, phone answering, and much better maintenance. The better services meant that Hoodoo needed to grow larger to afford the services it was providing. In 2007 Hoodoo won the concession in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Forest, replacing an Arizona company that had been managing there for the last ten years. Hoodoo was chosen partially because it was a more local company that could provide other services due to its Northwest position. For the 2009 season Hoodoo has been selected to manage all of the Deschutes campgrounds thus replacing an Arizona company and a Bend company that were also managing for the last ten years. The Forest realized that one company could be much more efficient in its management than three. In each case when a concessionaire is chosen an extensive process is gone through. The application is mostly limited to companies that already work with the Forest Service. In 2010 Hoodoo was selected to manage most of the rest of the Washington Forest Service campgrounds with the addition of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Naches District of the Wenatchee National Forest, but at the same time we stopped managing the Willamette NF. The application process can last from several months to almost a year with about 300 pages of material turned in to complete the application form.