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By The Skanner News
Published: 14 June 2006

As summer temperatures rise, the idea of a night out camping under the stars sounds more and more appealing. But as gas prices climb, too, a long drive to a campground might be out of reach.

Fortunately, Portlanders can go camping in this city's own backyard. A 30-minute drive from Portland, Oxbow Regional Park is a 1,200-acre natural area within the Sandy River Gorge, part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. The park is open to camping all summer.

Oxbow Park has 67 wooded campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each site has a cooking grill, picnic table and fire pit. The campground includes two restroom buildings with hot showers, four vault toilets, a paved road and trail access to the Sandy River and other parts of the park. Two group camp areas are also available by reservation.

The campground amphitheater is open Friday and Saturday nightsfor campfire programs June 30 through Sept. 2.Friday nights typically feature local musicians playing bluegrass and folk music, while Saturday evening programs highlight local area wildlife with naturalist talks and storytelling on subjects ranging from bats to bears.

The camping fee is $15 per night plus the $4 park entry fee per vehicle on the first day. Firewood is sold at the campground for $4 a bundle.

Activities at Oxbow Park include hiking in an ancient forest, mountain biking, fishing, boating, swimming and wildlife watching. Ball fields and play yards for children are also available. Pets are not allowed.

For a schedule of guided tours, classes and this summer's campfire program lineup, visit www.metro-region.org\parks.

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