Campfire Tails is a furry gathering at the Ogden Group Camp in the Deschutes National Forest near La Pine, Oregon featuring some of the best night skies in the continental USA!
Shaded by the Deschutes National Forest, this high desert campground is transformed from a smattering of picnic tables, water spigots, and outhouses into a buzzing tent city for furred, scaled, and feathered cosmonauts. There are no individual rental spaces in this campsite, and this newly terraformed landscape is ripe for settlement!
What to Expect
Campfire Tails is very different from a standard hotel convention. Here there are no hotel rooms to book, no Guests of Honor, no conference rooms, and no nearby restaurants. Instead, we provide three square rations a day (not even freezedried!), bathroom and shower facilities, and four solar- cycles of events and activities.
Whether you’re into hiking, swimming, dancing, board gaming, moonwalking, doodling, tending base camp’s brewfueled party generator, CFT has something for everyone. It’s the dawn of a new age, and it’s open for YOU to contribute or lead! That’s because the structure of CFT is based on attendee-driven events called called Happenings. Would you like to know more?
Everyone is encouraged to get involved and bring their own charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent to the Campfire Tails experience!
Ogden Group Camp provides fresh water spigots at 4 locations on site, 3 regularly maintained outhouses, and numerous picnic tables and firepits. Meanwhile, Campfire Tails provides 3 meals a day, private shower stalls, and gratuitous entertainment. Cell phone reception varies by network, and there is NO electricity onsite! So if you want to make sure your tricorder’s fully powered all weekend, redshirt, remember to bring a car charger! RVs, campers, and spacecraft under 28’ long are allowed, but keep in mind there are no RV hookups.
The campsite is adjacent to the Peter Skene Ogden Scenic Trail, a 9-mile day-hike and mountain biking trail from camp to the Newberry Caldera, Paulina Lake, and East Lake regions. The lakes & caldera can also be reached by a short drive down the road, and are crisscrossed by more trails, providing opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and fishing.
Campfire Tails is…
- 9 mi from La Pine
- 25 mi from Bend
- 189 mi from Portland
- 353 mi from Seattle
- 415 mi from Sacramento
- 461 mi from San Francisco
- 494 mi from Vancouver BC
- 2436 mi from Toronto
- 238,900 mi to Luna
- 140,000,000 mi to Mars
- 4.367 light years to Alpha Centauri
Ogden Group Camp has no postal address. The coordinates of the camp entrance are 43.7272, 121.4236 or 43°43′38′′N, 121°25′25′′W. From U.S. Route 97, turn east onto Paulina-East Lakes Rd at the exit marked “Newberry Caldera / Paulina-East Lakes”. The site entrance is 2.8 miles down Paulina-East Lakes Road, on the left.
What to Bring
So! We’re camping in the desert!
What do you need? The answer is simple, really. You need the same things you need for normal camping, plus some other simple things to ensure you don’t get too hot or too cold.
Our various friends we’ve made over the years have offered up other creative items as well! The temperatures in LaPine easily reach 105-115F(40-46C) in the day this time of year, at any evening potentially falling below freezing. That being said, here’s a list with some simple explanations of items you will need to bring with you.
These items are a total must-have:
- Backpack, Rucksack or Duffel Bag - Holds your gear, doubles as a pillow, and understands you.
- Sleeping Bag — Something that can withstand 30 degrees of temperature or lower. It gets hot in the day, but the air’s thin and it tends to go away. On any day of the year here, temps can drop below freezing!
- Toiletries — Anti-perspirant, shaving kit, feminine products, personal mirror(we don’t have mirrors), toothbrush, etc. I hope this doesn’t need explaining!
- Tent — A rain fly is (usually) not important but we have had a few rainy years! What is important, due to wind, is that it’s able to be staked to the ground and can provide adequate ventilation of heat.
- Heavy Duty Tent Stakes — Every year I warn people about this, and every year we have flying tents. It can get very windy out here, so be sure to bring heavy duty (12 inch or longer) tent stakes and guy wires to anchor your tents and structures well.
- Rubber Mallet — to drive your stakes into the ground.
- Chair — Seating is extremely sparse. If you want to ensure that you can rest your weary legs, bring a camp chair with you.
- Mess Kit — To reduce waste, we rely heavily on proper eating gear that attendees can eat off of/out of repeatedly. You want a fork, a knife, a spoon, a plate, a bowl, and a cup. Be sure to add a more or less permanent marking of your name, so you can reclaim it after it’s been cleaned! Please note that we do not provide any eating utensils of any kind.
- Flashlights, glow sticks, lanterns and el-wire — We will have little to no lighting available after dark, and it is up to you guys to ensure you can see where you are going and what you are doing. Being so far from big cities at higher elevations than some are used to, it gets extraordinarily dark at night. If you don’t want to stumble in the dark, bring a flashlight! Also it wouldn’t hurt to spruce up your campsite with some el-wire. It’s inexpensive, pretty, and for you creative types can easily be sewn onto clothing! The more creative, the better.
- Cold Weather Clothes — It can drop below freezing out here on any night of the year. This isn’t a joke, at all.
- Swim gear — Swim trunks, towel, any water toys you want. There’s a creek just a stone’s throw away from the site, a beautiful swimming hole by a waterfall a half mile hike down the path and two gorgeous lakes nearby about ten miles down the road. Sooner or later people are gonna get hot enough to need to cool down, so go jump in the river!
- Sunscreen — SPF 50 or higher. The air is thin, and so is the ozone layer. All it takes is 15 minutes to get a tan, and 2 hours of exposure to get 1st and second degree burns in this climate. Hawkfeather recommends a waterproof variety to handle sweat and swimming.
- Hat/sunglasses — Eyes can get sunburned from light bouncing off the ground. Keep your eyes safe; get some uv protective sunglasses, and bring them.
- Water container — water bottles, camelbaks, anything with a lid, really. We’ll be having coolers dispensing water and electrolytic beverages (what plants crave!). In the desert you need to nearly double your daily intake of water, and have no disposable cups on hand. BRING A BOTTLE OF SOME KIND.
- Allergy Medication — The nearest hospital is a 45 minute drive. If you have an allergy, even not food related, bring your medicine with you!
- Castille or other Biodegradable Soap — We’re in the high desert, so things will get icky and nasty. At the same time, we cannot harm the land we’re occupying so other people can actually use it afterwards. If you need to know where to find these soaps, check out Dr. Bronner’s magic soap brand. It’s available in many places and you can input a zip to find a store nearby. If the soap is bio-degradeable, it will be written clearly somewhere on the package. If you do not know this 100%, do not buy/bring it! Also to note: Yes, con*tact soap is fully biodegradable and safe for use here!
- Sandals — Eastern Oregon’s soil is composed primarily of broken down basalt and lava rock mixed in with hard clay. By and large, every speck of ground in some way has enough sharp points mixed in to shred someone’s tender, bare feet, and even the most calloused feet. You can get a pair of sandals on the cheap for between 5-10 dollars depending on your bargain bin hunting. They go on and off easily and beat having to take a trip to the doctor to get stitches because you shredded your foot with a piece of flint.
- Altoids Tin — We are responsible for every single piece of trash and cigarette butt found on the ground, and you are responsible for it as well. A great tip offered by Cinnamongrel is to bring an altoids tin to use as a personal ashtray and small container for scrap bits of trash you can use to store things until you can find a trashcan. Do it!
- Batteries and Generators — We will not have cellphone charging stations or any available power. If you need electricity for anything, bring it yourself. If you do have a generator, have an ABC rated fire extinguisher with it as well.
- (For Drivers) Spare tire, tire jack, jumper cables and portable tire inflator — You’d be amazed how many people have dead car batteries by the time this is over, and if driving long distances, note that coming from nearly any direction has you in a remote, rural location with spotty cell reception that can take quite a while to get a tow from. Self reliance out here is a massive time saver, so don’t get stranded!
The following items are optional, but highly recommended:
- A Gift — A fantastic way to step out of one’s shell is to bring something to share freely with your fellow attendees. This can be anything from a conversation, advice, teaching something cool you know like an art project or an activity like a Happening, or even something you made, be it at camp or at home. It doesn’t have to be enough for everyone, but there is no better way to make new friends than approaching them with something to share!
- Musical Instruments — Hand Drums, guitars, violins, anything acoustic. Being out in the woods with other open, musically-inclined people can make for excellent improvised jam sessions that could and did happen in successive years. If you’re wondering if you should bring it, I’ll answer that question for you: Yes.
- Bug Spray — There are plenty of bugs. Mostly mosquitoes and ants, but yellow hornets are not terribly uncommon. According to rangers last year, there haven’t been bears spotted in the area in over eight years, cougars are completely non-present, and coyotes, while inhabiting the park, steer clear of populated, loud areas.
- Ice Chest — If bringing your own food/drinks, be sure to have a means to keep them cold. We do not provide ice, but ice can be purchased in the nearby town of La Pine.
- Mountain Bike/Art Bike — Our campground is large. Maybe not desert tent city large, but it takes the average person 5-10 minutes to get from one side of camp to the other. Be it vanilla or bedecked in fur, having a mountain bike or art bike would help you more easily make your way around camp. By no means mandatory, but by all means fun! :)
- Canopy — A canopy, Monkey Hut, or other windproof covering to put over your tent. This provides shade over your sleep-space to keep your tent cool during the day and provide safe hangout space for you and your friends. Monkey Huts only cost around 75 bucks or so in Oregon to make and have been tested to stand up to the constant heavy wind in the Black Rock Desert.
- Broom and Leaf Rake — This is flat out useful. You can use it to clear debris from your tent site so you can sleep on slightly lumpless ground, sweep out your tent and run around pretending you’re a wizard.
Our forum is a great place to ask questions or trade gear. Be sure to check it out.