We spent 18 days on the Oregon coast starting at Fort Stevens in the north working the entire way down to Brookings in the south. From what we heard and experienced we did this leg of the journey nearly perfectly. It could have only been made better by adding more time. If you want the ultimate Oregon coast experience, the recipe is simple. One, have a major breakdown just before arriving so that you are worn out and ready to chill. Two, before even seeing the water, find a surf shop, swallow your overwhelming fear of death by shark, and get outfitted for surfing the frigid waters. And three, spend a night at the top, then start driving south, stopping often and everywhere. See below for more details. Little known fact: As far as we know, no one has ever died from a Great White attack in Oregon.
Fort Stevens State Park
This large park which comprises the northwest corner of Oregon is where we started. The park sports a large campground and a lot of things to check out. It’s full of bike paths, but we were pooped, so we opted for the driving tour instead, visiting several points on the beach, and old shipwreck, some fort remnants, and even the riverside. It’s a very nice park, which is no surprise in Oregon. While at the park we also headed back over to Astoria for an afternoon to grab some dinner and to have some better connectivity for our fantasy football draft.
Seaside, Ecola State Park, Cannon Beach, Arcadia Beach, Nehalem State Park
After a couple of nights resting at Fort Stevens, we loaded up our plate for our first day of travel down the coast. The first place we stopped was Seaside, where we meandered on the promenade, took a photoshoot on a swing set on the beach and grabbed a bite to eat at Ruby’s Roadside Grill.
Afterward, we headed down to Ecola State Park to check out the views and the surf. The roads through the park were intense, but the pay off was some good surf on a sunny beach. Indian Beach was the location of my first surf session on the West Coast and happened to be the location where the last scene of Point Break was filmed and the location of the last known shark attack in Oregon.
Next up was Cannon Beach, where we walked around in town and on the beach, snapped some shots of the iconic Haystack Rock and grabbed dinner. Cannon Beach is a fantastically charming vacation-centered beach town.
After a quick stop at Arcadia Beach to catch the sunset, we settled in a Nehalem State Park for the night.
Oswald State Park and Shorty’s
The next morning we backtracked a little bit and went back up to Oswald State Park and did the mile hike down to Short Sand Beach (aka Shorty’s surf break). I counted about 70 surfers in the water, so we weren’t the only ones with this idea, but the beach is huge, and the break is spread out, so there was plenty of room for everyone.
Do you like cheese? We like cheese – and ice cream, and butter I guess. Our next stayover was in the town of Tillamook, home of the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We actually stayed the night in the lot of Blue Heron Cheese Company, a fantastic Harvest Host member. While there we loaded up on cheese, salad dressing, mustard, and jams in their gift shop and also caught up with our friend Amber from Xscapers and Story Chasing, who was also staying there. The next morning we hit up the Tillamook farmer’s market and then made our way back up to the madhouse that was the Tillamook Cheese Factory to do their tour and buy yet more dairy-based deliciousness. We should have gone on Friday afternoon, which was the day before because, on that Saturday, there were 42 million people there – I counted. We ended up spending about 10 minutes on the self-tour around their massive, but extremely well-done facilities and the bee-lined it for the shop where we loaded up on cheeses and ice cream. The pint of ice cream did not survive the walk back to the bus, as we teamed up to murder it posthaste.
After Tillamook, we slowed down a bit and spent three nights at Hart’s Camp in Pacific City. This little RV park was just across the street from a surf break, a brewery, a taco shop, a coffee shop, and a small general provisions store and that’s it. Talk about ideal, wholly smokes this was a great setup. We could have stayed here for weeks and been perfectly content. While here we caught some surf, tasted some brews, ate some tacos, sipped some coffee, climbed a big ol’ sand dune and caught up on a lot of todos. While in town we also got our WeBoost cell signal booster which I had ordered to the local post office via General Delivery a few days before. We should have got one of these from the beginning, as it makes a HUGE difference when we have weak cell reception.
Do you like whales? We like whales, and fortunately for us the next night we landed at a fabulous seaside pullout right off of 101 overlooking a pod Grey Whales doing their thing just feet from shore. It was a bit questionable whether or not we were technically allowed to stay there, but both Amber and we decided to risk it, and the payoff was whale-tastic! Not only did we get to watch the Greys and some seals, but were graced by a visit from a young Humpback Whale, which, according to a whale researcher who stopped in for a bit, was a very rare occurrence indeed.
Newport, Yaquina Head, Yachats, Cape Perpetua
After a whale of a night, we worked our way to Newport where we grabbed some harbor-side fresh seafood and briefly considered stopping for the night. Ultimately, we decided to truck all the way down to Yachats instead. On the way, we stopped at Yaquina Head for some more whale watching. That night we set up next to the water in Yachats and made some dinner while the sun set, and then headed up the hill to pull-out in Cape Perpetua to stay the night. While hanging out in Yachats we ran into The Grand Nomads for the second time, and this time actually chatted for a while! They have a cool little custom built teardrop trailer, and we ended parking right in front of them that night on the pull-out. The Cape Perpetua area looked pretty amazing, with its rugged coastline and gorgeous views. We had hoped to hike it while in the area, but alas, were not feeling it when the opportunity arose.
Tillicum Beach Campground
After a few nights of scrambling to find a place to sleep, we decided to go ahead and get a spot at a campground for at least a night. We backtracked a bit north of Yachats and landed in the Tillicum Beach Campground. While there we mostly just rested and caught up on todos again. The campground was right on the beach, so naturally, we also spent some time on the beach. Speaking of beaches, Oregon has some seriously large, seriously beautiful and COMPLETELY empty beaches. It’s as wonderful as it is confusing. While the air is a bit chilly, the water is down-right arctic, and the sun likes to play hide-n-seek, with beaches this good, we certainly would expect more human activity, but rarely did we see more than a few souls on most of these beaches.
While Eugene is not exactly on the coast, it makes it into this update because we did spend a couple of nights there. For us, it was only about an hour and a half drive over to Eugene from the coast. We headed there primarily so I could purchase a new laptop from a guy at Starbucks. Eugene happens to be pretty RV friendly and offers free parking at the Valley River Center (a mall). While there it occurred to us that we were at the home of the Oregon Ducks and that they were playing a nobody team the next day and that we could get tickets for 6 dollars and so we did. We even took the bus over to the stadium for some tailgating. It was a pretty neat experience all-in-all, and we ended up staying back at the mall for one more night before returning to the coast.
Florence is due west of Eugene, and this is where we made our return to the coast. We started by making the long bumpy drive to the south jetty to investigate the surf and overnight parking potential. The surf was up, but wild and unappealing. We did spend a good bit of the day there, but the spot seemed a bit remote for us to stay the night.
Amber caught up with us again, and we all went back to town for some dinner and stayed at a spot she had found the night before on the north side of the river. The next morning we got up early and made our way back to the south jetty because I had a surfing date with an Instagrammer who had contacted us. I met a fellow going by the name of Happy Chillmore, and we paddled out into the early morning foggy chaos just south of the jetty. The swell was big and growing, and the period was short. This mixed with the low tide made it a punishing paddle out to the break which was at least a couple of hundred yards offshore. I actually didn’t make it all the way out and while resting got washed into the rocks on the jetty. Luckily I was able to time my exit and not get crushed into the sharp rocks on the way out. I sat back and watched Happy for a bit until it got even too gnarly for him. We walked back to our vehicles and regrouped for a while and then after an hour or so of starring at the break INSIDE the jetty on the river; we decided to give that a go. It looked fun but ended up being a nonstop paddle with huge sets coming through. I got out before running out of energy and without catching one of the monsters but again managed to come out unscathed exiting on the jetty rocks.
Coos Bay, Cape Arago, Bandon, Bullards Beach
After a day of surf fails we headed down to Coos Bay where we spent the night in a Walmart parking lot. Coos Bay seemed like a much older industrial town and didn’t fit in with the rest of our Oregon coast experience. We left pretty early the next morning after donating my old laptop to another bus couple we had met the day before in Florence. South of Coos Bay, we drove the Cape Arago loop, including a stop at Shore Acres State Park where we sat mesmerized by the crashing swirling waves below and strolled through the lovely botanical gardens. That night we made it down to Bullards Beach State Park just outside of Bandon. We spent two nights there, relaxed a bit, failed at surfing a bit and had our first campfire in quite a while.
Port Orford, Dinosaurs, Arizona Beach
Feeling rejuvenated after two nights hanging around Bullards we did another full day of coast exploration. Our first stop was the little town of Port Orford where we hung out and watched the action at an interesting marina where all of the boats are actually dry-docked and put in and taken out of the water via giant cranes. After that, we headed down to Prehistoric Gardens to walk around an ancient yet cute roadside attraction of giant life-sized dinosaurs set back in the woods and then spent a little while on Arizona Beach just up the road. Arizona Beach, which was as empty as the rest of them and just as gorgeous, gets its name from the unique conditions that exist there keeping it much warmer than the rest of the beaches.
Gold Beach, Brookings, and Fog
Our next overnight stay was yet another incredible pull-out just on the side of the highway just north of Gold Beach. We spent a great evening and a good bit of the next day just hanging out there before making our way through the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. This corridor covers a dozen miles of the coast and supposedly has many beautiful scenic views along the way. While we can attest to the plethora of viewpoints, we cannot verify the scenic beauty as the fog rolled in pretty heavy that day. This put us in Brookings pretty earlier where we checked out the non-existent surf, had dinner, checked the surf again, and the spent the night in a free parking lot. The next day, we made our way into California.
The Oregon Coast is so good; I think we will need many a return visit, if not a home here someday. We saw so many beautiful cliffs, beaches, sea life, and no sharks. We had no breakdowns and managed to find a decent amount of free parking. There was some good surf and some not so good surf. Ultimately, the Oregon Coast is one of our favorite parts of the trip so far.
If you made it this far into the post, congratulations and thank you! Also, you will be one of the few who this will pertain too. We are deciding to slow down on the blog and video making for at least the next 4-6 weeks while we travel through California. We decided its time for a bit of a break and would relish some extra time to do other things. We will keep our Instagram and Facebook up to date, so that will be the best way to keep track of this fantastic voyage for the next little while. We’ll probably do a California summary once we wrap up and start heading east for the holidays in November.
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