Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Oregon Coast

My wife and I lived in Newport for almost 18 months and in Portland for almost 2 years in the early 1980’s. Although things have grown since then, we try to get back as often as we can. Some things have changed, but most have stayed the same. Here are our favorite things about Oregon.

The Coast
The easiest way to travel along Highway 101 on the Oregon coast is from north to south because most of the scenic turn-offs are on the west side of the highway. But if you’re traveling with an RV, it probably doesn’t matter much because a lot of the scenic stops you will probably not be able to stop at due to your size. Anything larger than a 30-35’ motorhome or vehicle with the smallest of trailers may find it difficult (if not impossible) to find a place to park. If you are traveling northbound, it may be more difficult for you to stop at some of the lookouts due to traffic. You may need to continue north and turn around to come back to it. There are some drop-offs along the west side of the road, all protected by guard rails of course, but if the passenger seat occupant is afraid of heights, you may want to travel northbound.

If you are towing a car or trailer, it may be best to drive the road and enjoy the scenery first. Then once you have made it to camp, drive back to spend more time at the spots you saw along the way. Due to check-in and checkout times at campgrounds, you may want to put 3-4 hours between campgrounds. That way, you’re also never too far away from “home”. Astoria, Newport, Coos Bay and Brookings (or other towns close to these) would make good places to call home for a few days at a time. From Astoria, you could explore north to the Long Beach peninsula in Washington and south to Tillamook. From Newport, you could explore north to Tillamook and south to Florence. From Coos Bay, explore north to Florence and south to Port Orford. And from Brookings, explore north to Port Orford and south into northern California and the Redwoods.

Instead of duplicating a lot of information about all the different areas and sites to see along the Oregon coast, I have found some websites that do a very good job of showing the things to see and do and places to eat and stay. Although many of them are for the local Chamber of Commerce, they are full of information on the specific area. If you find other more interesting sites than what I have found, please let me know by posting a comment
. In areas that we have explored, I’ve added a little extra commentary for things that may not be easily gleamed from the other websites.

Near the bottom of this post, I have listed many campgrounds that are on or close to the beach.

One of our favorite things to see and visit along the coast is the lighthouses. There are 11 of them, two of which were created by lighthouse enthusiasts.
Here is a great website with lots of information on all of them. Guided tours of the lighthouse and keepers quarters are available at Yaquina Head, Heceta Head, Umpqua River and Cape Blanco. Some may charge a small fee. Others may offer self-guided tours. Call/check ahead for times and procedures for getting a tour. Many of the lighthouse locations also make for great vantage points for whale watching. We have seen whales from Yaquina Head, Devil’s Punch Bowl, Cape Foulweather and Cape Mears.

Oregon Lighthouse map

Oregon coast lighthouses

So, starting from the north…

Oregon Coast Visitors Association
This website is packed with information on all the cities along the Oregon coast. Recreation, attractions, annual events, arts, recreation,


Astoria/Warrenton Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to Oregon – Astoria
Astoria Column


Seaside Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to Oregon – Seaside

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to Oregon – Cannon Beach

No trip to the Oregon Coast is complete without a visit to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock. Okay, yes, it's just a rock...a very BIG rock...just offshore. When the tide is low enough, you can almost walk out to it. But be careful, the tide can sneak back in on you if you're not paying close attention.

Nehalem Bay State Park
In early 2008, we stayed here with some friends for a long weekend. As most of the Oregon State Parks go, this one was noe exception. It was very nice! Most sites are very large (long and wide enough for most rigs). The only thing to watch out for is the low overhang of some trees at the sites. If you go here, don't drive into the town of Nehalem Bay. Although you can get to the park from there, it is not a good route for RV's and is not well marked. The entrance to the park is just south of town on 101 at the Shell station Follow the road and the signs to the state park. Don't worry, it's back there aways, you'll find it.


Tillamook Chamber of Commerce
Tillamook Naval Air Museum
Tillamook Cheese

The streets in downtown Tillamook are a bit on the narrow side, so beware of parked cars and where your RV is. I saw one pickup that had left the slip-on camping mirrors on, which was an obvious mistake based on the position and condition of the mirror.

The Tillamook Cheese Factory has some RV parking south of the visitor center (behind the Chamber of Commerce building). Just watch how you park and make sure others have a way to leave without waiting for you to leave.

Munson Creek State Park is definitely not RV friendly! Do not drive anything other than a car, SUV or pickup down this road! The longer the vehicle, the harder a time you will have turning around at the end of the road. A very narrow 2-lane road (if you could even call it 2 lanes) leads you from highway 101 back about 2 miles to the falls. There isn’t much parking to speak of at the end of the road where the turn-around is and where the hiking trail begins. It’s a relatively easy hike, but in my opinion, not really worth the limited view of the falls. Too much growth has covered what you can see of the falls.

Cape Mears Lighthouse is at the north end of the...
Three Capes Scenic Drive. Just remember, what goes down the trail that leads to the lighthouse must come back up the same trail. Actually, there are 2 trails…one along the edge of the cliff on the south side overlooking the ocean and the other about 200 feet to the north, separated by woods. Both are equally steep. The lighthouse is self-guided with a ranger at the top explaining the history and function of the lighthouse. There is a small gift shop at the bottom.

One slow stretch of highway 101 is between Beaver and Oretown with several 35-45 mph curves.

Just south of Neskowin is a good-sized hill that is probably in the 6-7% range. The northbound climb is about 2.5 miles while the southbound climb is only about 2 miles. Although many of the curves are not marked with suggested speed signs, most are in the 45-50 mph range for my personal comfort zone

We stayed at
Pleasant Valley RV Park in August 2004. It was formerly a KOA (you could tell based on the A-frame style of the building, and confirmed by the owners). It was a nice quiet park, far enough off of the highway you really didn’t notice the traffic noise. The aerial photo on their website is from 1989, at least according to a similar one hanging in the store that is dated 1989. There are many more trees there now than what the picture shows, so there is plenty of shade and not much need for an awning, unless you need it for an umbrella. “Showers” were more like a typical “full bath” setup with a sink and toilet all in one room, which is large enough to move around in.

Drive time from Tillamook to Lincoln City: 45 minutes.

Central Oregon Coast Association

Lincoln City

Lincoln City Visitor Bureau
Welcome to Oregon – Lincoln City

Drive time from Lincoln City to Depot Bay; 10-15 minutes

Depot Bay

Depot Bay Chamber of Commerce (this can be a slow loading website at times)

A quaint little town with lots of unique shops on the east side of the highway, right across from a very rocky coastline and sea wall which make for great wave action and spray on a stormy day. Depot Bay is probably more famous for having the world’s smallest harbor that has a narrow passage out to the Pacific Ocean. You can catch charter boats for fishing or whale watching here.

Just south of Depot Bay is a turn-off for the Otter Crest Loop, Otter Rock and Cape Foulweather. (Heading from the south there is a turn-off just past Beverly Beach.) The road is windy and narrow, and I would not recommend it for larger motorhomes or for large trailers since there are very few places to park or turn around for the larger rigs. If you miss the turn off at the bottom of the hill (from either direction), there is another turn-off at the top of the hill. It’s a good little hill, probably in the 6% range, but less than a mile long in either direction. Cape Foulweather is one of the highest spots that I know of (along with the area around the Sea Lion Caves near Florence) that is right along the coast. On a clear day you can see for miles out to sea, and north and south along the coast. There is also a nice little gift shop here.

Back down towards the bottom of the hill on the south side is Otter Rock, a small little community with more great ocean views. Stop in at Mo’s for some pretty good clam chowder and sandwiches. Here you will find
Devils Punch Bowl State Park, which is worth a look-see, especially if there is a storm brewing out to sea. If you go here in/with your RV, don’t go past C Avenue! You may not be able to turn around at the end of the road.

Drive time from Depot Bay to Newport; 10-15 minutes


Newport Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to Oregon – Newport
Oregon Coast Aquarium
NewportNet (several links to other good sites)

There are plenty of different beaches to explore here. Agate Beach on the north side of town is a great place to look for, you guessed it, agates. Nye Beach is at the end of NW 3rd St. and there is Beverly Beach State Park to the north and South Beach State Park to the south that has beach access and RV sites.

There are two lighthouses here…the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse that was the first lighthouse near Newport but is no longer in operation, and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse just north of Newport that is the active one. (“Yaquina” is pronounced “ya-kwin-ah”) As of our last visit (August 2004), Yaquina Head had guided tours in the morning and self-guided tours in the afternoon. Yaquina Bay lighthouse is self-guided. You may want to call ahead to check first, but most have free tickets you must get early in the day for a later tour. Call the State Park Information Center at 800/551-6949 for details.

There is a Wal-mart in Newport, but at last check, overnight RV parking was not allowed.


Waldport Chamber of Commerce


Yachats Area Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to Oregon – Yachats


Florence Chamber of Commerce
Florence Tourism
Welcome to Oregon – Florence
Sea Lion Caves

Here are a couple places where you can rent ATV’s to ride the sand dunes south of Florence.
Sandland Adventures
Sand Dune Frontier

Southern Oregon Visitors Association


Reedsport/Winchester Bay Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to Oregon – Reedsport

Coos Bay/North Bend

Bay Area Chamber of Commerce
A very nice privately done website about the area www.coos-bay.net
Welcome to Oregon – Coos Bay


Bandon has an annual Cranberry Festival in early September each year. Check it out on the “Festivals” page here. Bandon Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to Oregon – Bandon
West Coast Game Park

Port Orford

Port Orford Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism
Port Orford Area Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to Oregon – Port Orford

Gold Beach

Gold Beach Promotion Committee
Welcome to Oregon – Gold Beach


Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to Oregon – Brookings

Camping on the beach

Here are links to RV parks that I have found that are right along the beach. (If you find any others, please post a comment so I can add them to this list.) The links are provided as reference only, and do not imply any kind of endorsement or rating. (for possible ratings, check out
www.rvparkreviews.com Make sure you ask plenty of questions before making reservations!

Some are right on the beach (*) while others are a short walk (**) to the beach.

Fort Stevens State Park**

Cannon Beach
Oswald West State Park**

Cape Lookout State Park*

Nehalem Bay State Park*

Pacific City
Cape Kiwanda RV Park**

Lincoln City
Ocean View RV Village**

Depot Bay
Fogarty Creek RV Park*

Beverly Beach State Park** to the north of town
South Beach State Park** to the south of town
Pacific Shores Motorcoach Resort* (This park caters only to motorhomes 25’ or longer)

Beachside State Park*

Seal Rock
Seal Rock RV Cove**

Sea Perch RV Park*

Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park**
Heceta Beach RV Park**

Coos Bay
Sunset Bay State Park**

Oceanside RV Park*

Beach Loop RV Park**
Bullards Beach State Park**

Port Orford
Humbug Mountain State Park**
Cape Blanco State Park**

Between Port Orford and Gold Beach
Arizona Beach RV Park*

Gold Beach
Ireland’s Ocean View RV Park*
Turtle Rock RV Resort**

Driftwood RV Park*
Portside RV Park*
Whaleshead Beach Resort**
Harris Beach State Park**

Here is a link to a complete (?) list of campgrounds and RV parks along highway 101 in Oregon.

Here is a website that has links to information on several Oregon cities, not just the ones along the coast (which I have included above).

The Trees of Mystery in Klamath is an interesting stop in the Redwoods.

Okay, that’s it!!! I could go on and on looking for links to pack into this webpage. I’m sure if you go to any search engine and type in something like “visit oregon coast”, you’ll find thousands of pages to keep you busy for months.

But if you find one that is really outstanding and feel that I should include it here, by all means let me know by adding a comment and I’ll consider adding it.

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