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Senior Capstone: Improving the Oregon Camping Experience

When it comes to improving the Oregon camping experience there's no one fix. Over a nine month process I compiled research from studies, books, and consumer input that then influenced my sketches and modeling both physical and digital. I collected consumer input from various sources including a wide spread survey on what most people deemed an issue for the quality of their experience. Below are components I found to be the most important to tackle to ensure the greatest impact of my project.

My goal was to design a campsite that maximizes the quality of the user’s experience. Specially designed platforms and native plants minimize standing water in the site. Dense tree coverage increases shade. Extra space and dense shrubbery aid in ambient noise reduction. This project explores a set of principles that can be adjusted for the settings of various regions.


The design of this campsite calls for smooth, dry, level ground to aid in a safe and pleasant experience for everyone including older visitors who are more prone to reduced lower-body mobility. The largest demographic of campers is the Baby Boomer generation. This generation of people is in their 60s and 70s which is the age range when physical disabilities begin to develop due to aging, most commonly in the lower body. I designed my campsites to remain as accessible to this demographic as possible.


In addition to the specific choice of tree depending on the environment, the same goes for ground cover and shrubs. The survey also said that most people have an issue with ambient noise and privacy mostly from neighbors. To remedy this the space beneath the trees surrounding each campsite will have dense shrubbery to muffle noise between sites. Species of shrub such as Pacific Wax Myrtle, Indian Plum, or Longleaf Mahonia. The campsites would also allow for extra space between each other to offer more room for tents and activities. RVs and trailers would be parked on the far edge of each site to act as an additional barrier between sites.


A major component to the design of this campsite is the greenery. Trees native to the area will be selected to maximize shade coverage and, in wetter climates, help soak up excess groundwater. Some species to pick from include the Vine Maple, Ponderosa Pine, and Oregon White Oak. A survey of over 100 people from all over the United States suggested more shade was preferred so that is the priority here. Alternatively, in more arid climates like Eastern Oregon, the design would implement tree species that maximize shade and require little irrigation such as a Madrone, Grand Fir, Noble Fir, or a Douglas Fir.


A key component of this design is the special platform on which RVs and trailers will be parked. It’s a simple rectangular concrete slab but it uses grooves that funnel standing water beneath the surface down to perforated pipes. These pipes then lead that water away to the reservoir below the porous pavement. To ensure those pipes don’t get clogged with sediment they will be surrounded by gravel. Furthermore, to ensure that those grooves won’t create a tripping hazard the gravel covering will fill the grooves entirely. This creates a smooth, flat surface for increased accessibility for those with reduced lower-body mobility.


The roads and other paved areas would be laid down using a porous pavement. This type of pavement can infiltrate rainwater into a reservoir beneath the pavement at dozens of inches per hour where that water will then be infiltrated into the soil. The purpose of using porous pavement in the construction of roads and walkways is to keep any standing water or runoff from pooling where people may be lingering. In the wetter climate of Western Oregon, especially on the coast, there can be a lot of rainfall. With the poor soil infiltration of some areas, standing water in campsites and walkways can spoil the experience for visitors. Adding roads and paths that funnel away high volumes of water will help improve the experiences of campers in wetter climates.

More Pics

Building the Model

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