Help me have an awesome Oregon coast trip!
September 5, 2015 11:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to drive down the Oregon coast and back, starting in Seattle. I'd like to know how to make this trip as awesome as possible.

The payload is myself and a dog, and a camera. I intend to spend 3-4 days on this trip, starting from and ending in Seattle. I'll be leaving Seattle Monday morning, so the weather seems like it'll be cooperating.

My main goal is to take pictures. Bonus time for enjoying solitude and soaking in pretty scenery. I like hikes, parks, and exploring nature-y places. I absolutely could not care less about touristy experiences, B&B's, shopping, etc. Local museums and the like are neutral, and I'll need to eat so local restaurants are good.

I'll have a complete set of camping gear (including stove, food, etc), but wouldn't be opposed to staying in a (pet-friendly) hotel for a night. Otherwise, I think camping is the way to go. It sounds like camping is allowed on the beach wherever it's not disallowed (heh), but it also sounds like things can get gnarly quickly; should I camp on the beach? Should I camp at state parks instead?

I've seen a couple previous questions (one, two) but would like more info! I don't have a destination in mind per se and would prefer not to have hard plans of staying in X city for Y night. I also don't really have a goal for how far south to get.

All information and recommendations are appreciated, thank you!
posted by Dilligas to Travel & Transportation around Orem, UT (16 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Tony's Crab Shack
posted by Cosine at 11:22 PM on September 5, 2015

Best answer: There are campgrounds at the beaches, just google them. also, I think you can pretty much park your vehicle anywhere off road and set up a tent at night. Just make sure to get up in the early morning and leave.

Otherwise, my favorite coastal drive is between Florence and Eugene. There are gorgeous and easily accessible turnouts to the river along the road (highway 126) and the scenery is magnificent both on the road and at the turnouts. Florence has beautiful beaches and a couple of good restaurants and Euguene is a charming town.
posted by zagyzebra at 11:37 PM on September 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

1998, one of my best friends and myself left Austin headed west, drove to San Diego, visited my younger brother, turned right and drove the coast to Seattle.

I'm envious of you; the Oregon coast is gorgeous. We didn't plan anything, just followed our feet, mostly, if something looked cool and/or beautiful and/or interesting -- and so much did fit all of that -- we'd just pull over or pull in or whatever.

It was a great road trip.

Do what you will of course, but we sure had a time just letting it happen.
(Now I'm wanting to go again..)
posted by dancestoblue at 1:43 AM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is an excellent guide for Oregon. They make one for Washington, too.
posted by yclipse at 4:39 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fort Stevens - WWII bunkers, hiking, the wreck of the Peter Iredale
Hug Point State Park--photogenic beach with outcroppings, sea caves, and a waterfall. Great nearby lunch spot: Bill's Tavern (excellent fish and chips and brews)
Oswald West State Park - great hiking, vistas, beach trails
Cape Meares State Park--hiking, lighthouse
Cape Kiwanda - cool sand dunes and wave-carved sandstone outcroppings
Heceta Head Lighthouse
Oregon Dunes
posted by prinado at 4:54 AM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

We stayed a week at Yachats, Oregon a while back and found the scenery there exceptional.
posted by hilaryjade at 6:12 AM on September 6, 2015

Best answer: I can attest to Prinado's suggestion of Oswald West State Park. It's a great little hike with some fantastic views as you round out over the water. Ecola State Park also has some lovely views, and is near the tourist-trap-nonetheless-don't-miss Cannon Beach. Haystack Rock is there, and is just so damn iconic.

South of Cannon Beach is the Tillamook Air Museum which is awesome, packed with WWII planes among others, and housed inside "the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world," as they proudly claim. (It is really awesome!) Also in Tillamook is of course the Tillamook Cheese Factory, which I hear is fantastic, but the last time I made it down that way from Seattle (Hi fellow Seattleite!), I didn't realize you could tour the holy land, missed it, and now all cheese tastes just slightly of regret.

Still further south, you've got the Sea Lion Caves, a fantastic little tourist trap, "America's Largest Sea Cave!" Also down that way, and mentioned too by Prinado, are the Oregon Dunes, known best for where Frank Herbert conceived of Dune.

Oh, and remember to pay attention as you cross the bridge from Washington to Astoria. It's a serious deja vu moment as you realize you're entering The Goonies' town.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 7:56 AM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Cape Perpetua is a really amazing scenic overlook. There's a state campground right there with huge redwoods and a little stream. We drove from Seattle to San Francisco and that was my favorite place to camp (site 14). (Note: there are no showers.)
posted by desjardins at 8:38 AM on September 6, 2015

Rent a convertible. I did this once for the Oregon Coast part of the drive. It was beyond wonderful, smellorama!
posted by Oyéah at 9:34 AM on September 6, 2015

Astoria: Norblad Hotel, Buoy Beer Company, Street 14 Coffee. You'll be fine camping on the beach. Obviously not below the high tide line or in dodgy conditions.
posted by fmnr at 10:06 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Advice I was once given by fellow mefite mgar, who made a similar trip with her dad a few years ago: Never find yourself in the position of having to buy gas at night in coastal Oregon. You probably know you can't pump your own gas in Oregon. In principle, this means jobs exist where they wouldn't have before. In practice, it means low-traffic gas stations, like those along the coast, close at night. Gain happiness by avoiding unhappiness.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:18 PM on September 6, 2015

I'm not sure you will get very far on your timeline. Are you going to head down 5 to Portland and then go west to the coast? It'll probably take 3-4 hours to get to Astoria. Unless you want to spend the whole time driving, plan to stick to the northern Oregon coast.

Cannon Beach the town can be crowded, but the coastline there is gorgeous. Ecola Bay State Park has ridiculously amazing views.

I wouldn't recommend camping on the beach. The northern Oregon coast has enough folks around that there might not be the solitude you are imagining.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:14 PM on September 6, 2015

Visit lighthouses. You cannot go wrong on the Oregon coast if you visit lighthouses, and you can't help seeing a lot of other great stuff if you do.
posted by lhauser at 6:28 PM on September 6, 2015

Best answer: One other thing: finding a place to (legally) camp on the beach on the northern coast will be difficult due to the higher density of populated towns. You may want to look into a state park for your first night or two. On your first night, Fort Stevens is the first park with camping--approx. 4 hours from Seattle. You can reserve a campsite here. The next state park with camping is at Nehelam Bay (reservations link) in Manzanita--another hour south. With all the goodness on the road between the parks, one possibility is to book adjacent nights at both parks and enjoy your day exploring. Have a blast no matter how you blaze your trail.
posted by prinado at 10:32 PM on September 6, 2015

If you live in Seattle, you probably already know this, (or you may have seen this already on the blue earlier this summer) but I think it might be worth reviewing the earthquake/tsunami evacuation routes of any place on the Oregon coast you stay. The author of that original New Yorker piece published a follow-up that has good advice.
posted by minervous at 8:00 AM on September 7, 2015

If you're going to camp on the beaches, make sure you're prepared enough for high, cold winds at night. It's not a picnic during the day, and doesn't get better at night. And Sunburnt is absolutely correct that gas stations close in Oregon.
posted by pwnguin at 5:51 PM on September 21, 2015

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