Rufus Landing Recreation Area offers free boondocking up to 14 days along the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon side. It’s managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Sash and I stayed there for 21 days between April 16, 2018 to May 8, 2018. Despite the 14 day limit, we didn’t see or hear from any USACE park ranger. Keep in mind that during the time we stayed there, the salmon were swimming up stream and dozens of Native Americans from local river tribes were fishing there. The 14-day limit does not apply to Natives, and it may be that any park rangers that came by might have assumed we were natives too.
Rufus Landing has a pit toilet and that’s the only amenity it offers. There are no trash bins here, but there are bins just a mile up the road at Giles French Park.
While the Sinclair gas station in the town of Rufus has a dump station and water for $10.00, the water is not drinkable. We confirmed with the station manager that the water spigot by their dump station is for cleaning only, and is not potable. However, about five miles east along the I-84 is LePage Park, another USACE park, and they have a dump station with clean, drinkable water, for $5.00. So, that’s where we ended up dumping.
The views at Rufus Landing Recreation Area are amazing! You can set up camp right along the water’s edge. The sunsets are gorgeous too.
It does get pretty windy there, however. Notice the windmills located along the banks, and notice the windsurfers there too. You won’t be able to put out your awning much. However, there are times when the wind dies down.
The good news is that we didn’t encounter many flies. Even when the wind died down, the amount of gnats buzzing about were minimal, though they could be spotted if you looked for them.
The town of Rufus has minimal amenities. The Sinclair gas station has non-ethanol gas if you need it. A couple of restaurants there offer amazing breakfasts. There is a market and fishing store. Biggs Junction, just a few miles to the west, offers a few more stores to choose from. Otherwise, you’ll need to drive about 20 miles west into The Dalles for supplies and good eats.
Rufus Landing is actually pretty safe too. The other campers there are pretty respectful. We didn’t encounter any problems with stuff being stolen or vandalized.
Most of the other campers there were staying long term as well.
Noise from the I-84 can be heard, but it’s just far enough away that Sash and I ended up tuning it out. Even the trains that roll by regularly are just far enough away that they’re no longer a bother.
Verizon 4G coverage came in good, about 3 to 4 bars.