Friday, June 27, 2014

Campground Review: Giles French Park Rufus, OR

Stretching for 1.7 miles along the Oregon side of the Columbia River east of Rufus, OR, Giles French Park is owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers and, like most Corps of Engineers projects, allows free camping for up to 14 days.

The park is both a day use and overnight camping destination.
I spent two nights at the park in the middle of June preparatory to venturing into the state of Washington to meet up with Camping Buddy Becky for some Washington State Park camping.  Here's the data sheet on Giles French Park:


Hookups:                                 None
Fire ring:                                  No campfires allowed in Giles French
Water Access:                         No fresh water (bring what you’ll need)
Dump station:                          None
WiFi:                                       No
Level sites:                              Yes
Laundry:                                  No
Store:                                      No (there is a store about a mile away)
Pool:                                       No
Shade:                                    Yes
Verizon reception:                   4G, 2 out of 4 bars
Millenicom reception:              2 out of 4 bars
Cost:                                      Free for up to 14 days

The park grass was pretty parched during my stay.
 One of the first impressions you get upon arriving at Giles French Park is how very windy it is.  The Columbia River has created a natural "wind tube" through hills on each side of it and during the day I don't think the winds were ever below 20 mph.

A wind farm across the Columbia on Washington's hills.
Closeup of the windmills -- there were hundreds!
The southern edge of the park (on the Oregon side) features an imposing cliff face.

This cliff ends the southern part of the park.

The park features a boat ramp into the Columbia River at it's western end which was in heavy use by fishermen.  The waters of the Columbia were pretty rough no doubt thanks to the high winds, not really "kayak-able". 

Whitecaps on the Columbia.
There were plenty of small trails in the park that went down the 15 feet from the park elevation to the riverbank and these were utilized by shore fisherman to fish.

A duck takes off from the Columbia.
On the way to Giles French Park I took this shot of Mt. Hood in the distance.

The obligatory Mt Hood blog photo!
My only knock on Giles French was the rail line (very active) that runs along it's south boundary.  With six trains per night running past it I didn't sleep very well.  Strangely, it seemed like there were less trains during the day.  Bring some earplugs if you value uninterrupted nightly sleep but for an attractive site to get free access to the Columbia River this park fits the bill.

Thanks for reading!