Classic Adventures for Your Oregon Coast Road Trip
By Emily Butterfield
The Oregon Coast is a place where towering forests line the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean, vocal sea lions lazily lie on sea rocks and local, fresh-made ice cream is devoured year round. Known as the People’s Coast, all 363-miles of Oregon’s coastline are open to the public (unlike neighboring states Washington and California). Dogs are welcome, too. The mild temperatures make it a welcoming place to watch a storm roll in or build a sand castle. If you’re looking for a scenic adventure in the Pacific Northwest, consider taking an Oregon Coast road trip by campervan.
The Escape camper van rental site in Portland is just 100 miles from the northern coastal town of Astoria (where the 1980s classic The Goonies was filmed). Keep in mind the Oregon Coast Highway (U.S. 101) can be narrow and windy – and busy in the summer months – so pack your patience and enjoy the views.
Play in the sand dunes
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area draws off-roading enthusiasts and beachcombers alike. The dunes stretch 42-miles along the central coast and get up to 500 feet tall in places. ATV tours, sandboarding, hiking, and biking are a few activities to fill a family-friendly Oregon Coast road trip.
Eat cheese and ice cream in Tillamook
A self-guided, all-you-can-sample-cheese tour topped off with a scoop of fresh ice cream? Yes, please! A trip down the Oregon Coast isn’t complete without a stop at the Tillamook Creamery (aka the ‘cheese factory’). It’s where you can stock up on Creamery-exclusive cheese curds, buy locally-made gifts and get a scoop or two of their famous ice cream (in a state known for berries, try any berry flavor.) If you’re still hungry, you can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Food Hall – they have grilled cheese and mac and cheese, of course!
Visit one of the remaining historic lighthouses
You could dedicate your whole campervan trip to checking out the lighthouses dotting the coastline. While the majority can be seen from the highway, many are open to the public so take time to explore a few (and soak in the views).
The Heceta Head Lighthouse and state park is one of the most popular lighthouses and includes a bed and breakfast in the former light keeper’s home. The Yaquina Head Lighthouse just north of Newport is the tallest lighthouse on the coast – and reportedly haunted. Cape Blanco Lighthouse in Port Orford stands 256-feet above sea level making it a great location for whale watching or sunset views.
Stroll the beach to view the sea stacks
Cannon Beach is arguably the most popular town on the Oregon Coast, not only is it an easy getaway for Portlandians, it’s home to the picturesque, 235-foot high Haystack Rock. It’s a stunning backdrop for a sunset beach stroll. Other popular sea stacks include Twin Rocks in Rockaway Beach, Three Arch Rocks in Oceanside and Face Rock in Bandon. It’s the perfect reason to pull over and stretch your legs.
Watch the diverse sea life
The coast is home to hundreds of small and large species, including migratory birds, colorful marine invertebrates, large raptors, seals and sea lions. There’s plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife along your road trip.
Watch tufted puffins and others nest on the sea stacks in spring through early summer. Bird enthusiasts will want to check out the Oregon Coast Birding Trail that includes nearly 200 bird-watching hotspots.
Gray whales can be seen from the shoreline throughout the year. Your best chance at seeing large pods of these giant mammals is during their migration, in mid-December through mid-January and late March.
Look into tide pools to get a close-up view of the tiny and colorful sea life that call Oregon Coast home. The seven “marine gardens” along the coast provide the best opportunity to view pools and offer interpretive programs, locations include Yachats State Park and Otter Rock.
Stay at an ocean-view campground
Here are several campgrounds that offer ocean-view sites for your Oregon Coast road trip:
- Beverly Beach State Park near Newport
- Cape Lookout State Park near Tillamook
- Tillicum Beach Campground near Yachats
- Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay
Tour the Oregon Coast in a campervan
Ready to set out and explore the Oregon Coast? We can help you book a campervan for your road trip. Our vans all have a unique design, and include a kitchen and bed along with many other options. Contact us today to book your adventure!