Is camping allowed at Opal Creek?

Camping is not allowed in Jawbone Flats, the 15 acres owned by Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center.  The 35,000 acres surrounding Jawbone Flats are federally owned, and camping is allowed. While there are no established campgrounds in the Opal Creek Wilderness Area, primitive camping is permitted based on US Forest Service policies.  When backcountry camping PLEASE:

  • Leave No Trace – pack out any waste, including all food scraps
  • Follow the US Forest Service seasonal fire ban
  • Only build fires in established fire pits and keep fires small
  • Make sure fires are completely out before leaving, and scatter the cool ashes

A human-caused fire in the Opal Creek Wilderness would be a disastrous blow to our ancient forest. Please be careful!

Please see the Forest Service’s guidelines for backcountry camping in the Willamette National Forest.

The closest established campgrounds near the Opal Creek Wilderness are the Elkhorn Valley Campground (about 15 miles from our trailhead on the North Fork Road) and the Shady Cove Campground (about 10 miles from our trailhead on Forest Service road 2207).

Where can I get a map?

The Opal Creek Wilderness and Scenic Recreation Areas are covered by the US Forest Service’s Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forest map, which also includes the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness and the Bull of the Woods Wilderness.  These maps are sold at most Forest Service locations and outdoor stores, and can be purchased from Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center by calling 503-892-2782, visiting our office at 721 NW 9th Ave., Suite 236, or from our staff on-site at the Jawbone Company Store from April through October.

Google Maps has this aerial view of the area around the trail head and Jawbone Flats.

This topographic map is centered on Jawbone Flats.

Can I bring my dog?

Dogs must be leashed while in Jawbone Flats.  Dogs are not allowed in our cabins and public buildings. If you are staying overnight with us please leave your dog at home. Dogs do not need to be leashed in the National Forest, Scenic Recreation Area or Wilderness Area.

Can I drive in to Jawbone Flats?

No.  Jawbone Flats is accessible via an easy 3-mile hike that takes 1-1.5 hours.  The hike is on a wide gravel trail with about 300 feet of elevation gain. Cabin and workshop guests can have their luggage brought in and out on our gear shuttle. Special shuttle arrangements can be made for program guests who have mobility issues preventing them from making the hike.

Will my cell phone work? Do you have phone access?

Jawbone Flats is out of range of cell phone service and we do not have a phone line.

Do you have wireless Internet?

We do not.  Please prepare to be unplugged during your time at Opal Creek.

I have an emergency message to get to someone at Jawbone Flats, what do I do?

You can call our Portland office at 503-892-2782 during regular office hours and we will pass along the message through emergency channels.

How do I get to Opal Creek?

See our directions page hereWe highly recommend that guests carpool if at all possible. The trailhead has become very crowded, especially on summer weekends.

Do I need any special permits to visit Opal Creek?

The only permit you need to explore Opal Creek is a US Forest Service parking permit to park at the trailhead.  You can pay at the gate for $5/day (bring exact change); or purchase several day passes ahead of time and write the dates on them as you use them. Day passes are available at National Forest offices and visitor centers, many outdoor retailers, or online. The annual Northwest Forest Pass for $30 is a great deal for anyone regularly visiting Forest Service fee sites in Oregon or Washington.

To purchase an annual Northwest Forest Pass or an Interagency Pass online, click here. America the Beautiful Annual Passes and Senior Passes are both honored at the Opal Creek trailhead.

Can I have a campfire?

Campfires are not allowed in Jawbone Flats. Please refer to Forest Service regulations for current rules in the surrounding national forest. Please make sure that any fires are contained and completely snuffed out before leaving.

Can I bike the trails?

Biking is permitted on the main road to Jawbone Flats, and on a few of the trails past Jawbone Flats.  Many of the single track trails are very steep and bikes are not encouraged.

Is fishing permitted at Opal Creek?

Fishing is not permitted in Jawbone Flats.  Catch-and-release fishing, with no barbed hooks, is permitted in the Opal Creek Wilderness Area.  You must obtain a permit from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Find recreation reports and purchase a license here.

Can I stay at Jawbone Flats during the winter?

Jawbone Flats has the potential to get snowed in every winter. During the winter of 2007-2008 the site was only accessible by an 8-9 mile snowshoe trek for 4 months.  Due to the safety concerns that arise with weather this severe and the potential risk it could pose to our staff and guests, we do not rent cabins in the winter months.  Our season closes in mid-November and reopens in early April.  However, the trailhead is open year-round as long as the road is clear; and you are free to come through on a day-hike in the wintertime.

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