Dotted with misty beaches, dreamy surf towns, and lush forests, the Oregon Coast is an unbeatable place for a camper van road trip. But with countless coastal cities, state parks, and scenic destinations to choose from, planning a road trip here can be challenging.
Luckily, we’ve done all the research so you don’t have to. Follow our comprehensive 5-day Oregon Coast road trip itinerary to experience the best of the Pacific Northwest’s coastline.
Best Route from Portland to the Oregon Coast
This road trip begins and ends from the Portland Escape Camper Vans location. From Portland, you will drive down the Oregon Coast on U.S. Highway 101, covering nearly the entirety of the coast from north to south. Along the way, you’ll enjoy stops in some of Oregon’s most iconic areas, including Cannon Beach, Newport, Coos Bay, and Samuel H. Boardman Scenic State Corridor.
Keep reading to discover the Oregon Coast’s most beloved spots and best-kept secrets!
Travel Time from Portland to the Oregon Coast
Following this itinerary, you will travel from the Portland Escape Camper Vans pickup hub down the Oregon Coast. From start to finish, this drive is approximately 691 miles, and it takes about 13 hours and 22 minutes to complete. We recommend using this route for a 5-day road trip.
You can also complete this trip in reverse by driving to Samuel H. Boardman Scenic State Corridor first and then driving north along the coast before heading back to Portland. If you don’t have as much time to explore the Oregon Coast, we recommend following the Three Capes Scenic Drive. You can learn more about this loop route and its beautiful stops here.
Best Time of Year for an Oregon Coast Road Trip
With minimal rainfall, average temperatures teetering around 70ºF, and an increased chance of blue skies, summer is the most popular time to visit the Oregon Coast. During this season, trails are dry, attractions are all open, and there’s a ton to do along the Oregon Coast.
That being said, summer also draws the biggest crowds. People from near and far flock to Oregon’s beaches, especially on the weekends. So, if you’re planning a summer trip to Oregon, you’ll want to make campsite reservations in advance as accommodations book up quickly at this time.
Spring and fall are both nice times to visit the Oregon Coast as well. During these seasons, you’ll get to experience beautiful destinations with a fraction of the visitors. The weather is usually mild in late fall and early spring, and most of the region’s parks and trails are open then.
If you’re hoping to have a quiet, relaxing trip and you don’t mind rain and clouds, visit the Oregon Coast in the winter. During this time, you’ll get to experience the true moodiness of Pacific Northwest (PNW) beaches, and you won’t have to worry about crowds.
Preparation for an Oregon Coast Road Trip
The Oregon Coast is jam-packed with beautiful places to see and exciting things to do. With a bit of preparation, you’ll be able to maximize your time and enjoy a stress-free adventure.
Oregon Pacific Coast Passport
Oregon’s coast is lined with numerous state parks and recreation areas, most of which charge day use fees. Luckily, the Oregon Pacific Coast Passport makes it easy to visit many of these parks without having to worry about paying separate entry fees.
Many of the recommended stops along our itinerary are covered by the Oregon Pacific Coast Passport, so we highly suggest purchasing one. A 5-day vehicle passport is $10, and an annual vehicle passport is $35.
To find out where you can purchase the Oregon Pacific Coast Passport and to find out which parks and recreation areas this pass applies to, check out this brochure.
Many Oregon state parks are open for camping year-round, but a few close for the winter season. All of the state park campgrounds on the coast require reservations most of the year, and spots can be reserved up to six months in advance. To check the status of a campground or to make reservations, visit the Oregon State Parks website.
A major perk of taking a road trip in a camper van is that you can also try dispersed camping, or camping for free on federal and BLM land. Download these apps to find dispersed camping spots in the area.
Rain Gear: A trip to Oregon outside of the summer season will probably include some gloomy, drizzly days, so a rain jacket and umbrella are essentials.
Layers: Even in the summer, Oregon’s temperatures remain mild, and it typically cools off even more at night. No matter when you visit Oregon, you’ll want to bring several layers to adjust to the changing temperatures.
Sun Protection: While summer in Oregon isn’t very hot, the sun can still be strong here. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen while driving as well.
Food & Water: Since each camper van comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, it’s a good idea to stock up on food and water at the start of your trip. By selecting the kitchen kit add-on, you’ll be able to cook and enjoy meals even more comfortably from your camper van.
Phones & Chargers: A functional phone is one of the most important road trip tools, so don’t forget your car chargers and portable chargers! To enjoy your favorite playlist on the road, pack an aux cord as well.Maps: Download the Google Maps route before embarking on your adventure. This will allow you to view the map even without cell service. However, we also recommend that you pack a good old-fashioned map just in case!
Escape Camper Vans Rental
Escape Camper Vans has a range of rental options fit for different travel needs, group sizes, and destinations. From the Portland pickup location, you can choose between the Mavericks, Mesa, and Del Mar van models.
Each camper van comes equipped with solar panels, a kitchenette, and a queen-sized bed. Additionally, all of these models can sleep up to 5 (with a rooftop sleeper). We recommend the Mavericks for couples and small groups. The Mesa and the Del Mar models are bigger, so we recommend these vehicles for larger groups and for anyone seeking maximal comfort and space.
Choosing the best spots along the Oregon Coast is no easy feat, but our 5-day itinerary is here to help. This road trip is all about the journey, so enjoy the ride and make sure to give yourself extra time for spontaneous stops along the way.
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Day 1: Cannon Beach
Kick off your road trip by picking up your camper van at the Portland Escape Camper Vans hub. From there, you’ll head to Cannon Beach, one of Oregon’s most well-known coastal towns. Your first day will be spent exploring Cannon Beach’s iconic shoreline and other nearby natural paradises.
From Portland to Cannon Beach, the drive is approximately 79 miles (about 1 hour and 28 minutes).
Pro Tip: If you have extra time, head north to Astoria first before exploring Cannon Beach. This historic port city sits on the Columbia River and has tons of cozy cafes and unique shops to explore. Plus, Fort Stevens State Park is just a quick drive from Astoria, and it’s a great place for camping.
Sights and Activities Near Cannon Beach
Visit Haystack Rock: If you’ve done any research about the Oregon Coast, chances are you’ve seen Haystack Rock. This towering sea stack is one of Oregon’s most recognizable landmarks, and it’s a quintessential stop during an Oregon Coast road trip. After you finish marveling at its beauty, explore the surrounding tidepools to discover colorful starfish and other fascinating creatures.
ExploreHug Point State Recreation Site: Just a few minutes south of Cannon Beach, you can explore some of the Oregon Coast’s most stunning caves and waterfalls. After beachcombing and checking out the tidepools, enjoy a scenic picnic with an incredible view. Please be aware of the changing tides here as some areas are inaccessible during high tide.
Hike or Surf at Ecola State Park: A hot spot for nature enthusiasts, Ecola State Park has no shortage of outdoor activities. A couple of our favorites include hiking the Crescent Beach Trail and surfing at Indian Beach.
Unwind at Cove Beach: Take a trip to the charming coastal town of Arch Cape to discover one of the Oregon Coast’s hidden gems. Nestled behind a forested area, this serene, rocky beach feels like a true escape. Head here for peace and serenity.
Relax at Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site: Situated at the south end of Cannon Beach, this area is another excellent place for sunbathing and relaxing. You can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere and a beautiful view of Haystack Rock from here.
Where to Eat Near Cannon Beach
The Lazy Susan Cafe: Start your day off right with a hearty breakfast at the Lazy Susan Cafe. While they’re known for their omelets and waffles, you also can’t go wrong with their lunch salads and sandwiches.
The Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge: For a meal with a view, head to the Wayfarer. Whether you go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you won’t be disappointed by the restaurant’s high-quality, locally sourced menu options and the incredible backdrop of Haystack Rock.
Campgrounds Near Cannon Beach
Wright’s for Camping: Conveniently situated in the town of Cannon Beach, this family-run campground is dedicated to providing affordable campsites for travelers. They offer 22 campsites that can be reserved online, and their rates depend on the number of campers in your group.
Nehalem Bay State Park: An excellent year-round option for camping just 20 minutes south of Cannon Beach, Nehalem Bay State Park has 265 electrical sites with water. Its campsites can be reserved up to 6 months in advance. However, the D, E, and F loops are first-come, first-serve from November until the end of April.
Day 2: Newport
Saying goodbye to Cannon Beach is never easy, but luckily, there’s a lot more beauty and fun coming your way on this trip. Next up is Newport, one of the Oregon Coast’s biggest cities. Here, you can enjoy all the seafood your heart desires, visit unique attractions, and explore the city’s cozy seaside districts.
From Cannon Beach, drive approximately 108 miles to Newport. This leg of the trip will take about 2 hours and 29 minutes.
Pro Tip: While driving from Cannon Beach to Newport, there are several additional towns that are worth checking out along the way. If time allows, visit Cape Meares, Oceanside, Cape Lookout, Pacific City, and Depoe Bay. We also highly recommend a visit to the Tillamook Creamery for a delicious scoop of ice cream!
Sights and Activities Near Newport
Enjoy Wildlife at the Oregon Coast Aquarium: Watch aquatic animals swim overhead in underwater tunnels and visit outdoor habitats at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Full of educational exhibits and unique creatures, this is one of Newport’s top attractions.
Stroll or Paddle Around the Bayfront: This historic district is located on Yaquina Bay and is known for its lovely restaurants, vibrant galleries, and entertaining sea lion docks. If you prefer being on water over land, you can also explore the area via kayak tour.
Tour Yaquina Head Lighthouse: To learn more about one of Newport’s most beloved landmarks and its history, head to Yaquina Head Lighthouse. From the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of the stunning coastline.
Where to Eat Near Newport
Ocean Bleu Seafoods at Gino’s: Despite the casual, beachy atmosphere of this restaurant, its food is top-notch. Come to Ocean Bleu for incredibly fresh catches and masterfully prepared seafood dishes.
Georgie’s Beachside Grill: Whether you visit for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’re sure to be impressed by the fresh fare, attentive service, and breathtaking ocean views at Georgie’s. Some menu favorites include the Diablo seafood pasta, stuffed salmon, and clam chowder.
Campgrounds Near Newport
South Beach State Park: A top camping spot in Newport, this state park offers 227 electrical sites with water. This campground is open year-round, and campsites can be reserved up to six months in advance. With miles of sandy beaches and trails here, you can easily explore Newport’s natural beauty from your campsite.
Beverly Beach State Park: Nestled in a forest, this state park offers one of the state’s largest campgrounds. It features 256 campsites, and some of them are just steps away from the ocean. Typically, this campground is open year-round and campsites can be reserved up to six months in advance. However, it is currently under construction and will reopen in July 2024.
Day 3: Coos Bay
Another lovely beach town, Coos Bay is known for its locally caught crab, fresh cranberries, and natural beauty. Between its charming downtown, stunning state parks, and the nearby sand dunes, there’s something for everyone in Coos Bay.
From Newport, drive approximately 98 miles (about 2 hours and 8 minutes) to Coos Bay.
Pro Tip: On your way to Coos Bay, we recommend making stops at Cape Perpetua and Heceta Head Lighthouse if time allows.
Sights and Activities Near Coos Bay
Hike Around Cape Arago State Park: Follow the scenic Cape Arago Highway to this state park for some beautiful hiking. You can complete a long hike, like the 8.5-mile Sunset Bay to Cape Arago hike, or you can follow one of the park’s two main trails. Take the North Cove Trail to spot sea lions, or follow the South Cove Trail to explore tidepools.
Experience the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area: One of the largest expanses of coastal dunes in the world, the Oregon Dunes are truly a sight to be seen. Explore them by ATV, dune buggy, horseback, sandboard, or on foot.
Explore Shore Acres State Park: Known for its rugged coastline lined with rocky cliffs, Shore Acres State Park is another beautiful destination full of outdoor activities. Some top picks include hiking the Shore Acres Loop Trail, picnicking at Simpson Beach, and visiting the Shore Acres Botanical Garden.
Where to Eat Near Coos Bay
Tokyo Bistro: If you enjoy Japanese cuisine, this is a must-visit restaurant on the Oregon Coast. Because of its seaside location, the sushi here is unbelievably fresh.
SharkBite’s Seafood Cafe: Said to have some of the best seafood along the coastline, SharkBite’s Seafood Cafe is one of the area’s most highly-rated restaurants. It’s known for its crab cakes and fish and chips, but all of the menu options look delicious.
Campgrounds Near Coos Bay
Sunset Bay State Park: Conveniently located near Coos Bay and the area’s other state parks, Sunset Bay State Park has a year-round camping area with 130 campsites that can be reserved up to six months in advance. Not only is its location wonderful, but there are also tons of hikes and activities to enjoy near this campground.
Bastendorff County Park: Situated just off the Cape Arago Highway, this county park is home to 99 campsites. The campground is open year-round, and many of its sites have water and electric hookups.
Day 4: Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Last but not least, it’s time to head to Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor! This park somehow encompasses all the things we love about the Oregon Coast into one place. You could easily spend a few days here, but we’ve highlighted the things you shouldn’t miss if you only have a day at Samuel H. Boardman State Park.
Pro Tip: On your way to this park, stop in the town of Gold Beach and visit its serene beaches. If time allows, we also recommend a stop at the Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint for an unbeatable view of the area’s rocky coastline.
Sights and Activities Near Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Discover Secret Beach: A hidden gem to most visitors, Secret Beach is a magical area tucked away from the rest of the park. Following this moderate 1.8-mile route, you can visit two scenic viewpoints and the beach itself. Make sure to schedule your hike around low tide as the beach is inaccessible once the tide rises.
Trek to the Natural Bridges: No visit to Samuel H. Boardman State Park is complete without witnessing the Natural Bridges. These unique rock formations can be seen from a popular viewpoint that is clearly marked. There’s also a challenging unmarked hike that lets you experience the Natural Bridges up close. This hike is said to be slippery and especially difficult if you’re scared of heights, so attempt it at your own risk.
Hike to Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint: After an easy hike out to Cape Ferrelo, you’ll arrive at a gorgeous vista point that overlooks the rugged coast. As this hike is only one mile round trip, it’s easy to complete within an hour. Plus, it’s a great spot for whale watching in the fall and spring.
Where to Eat Near Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Zola’s on the Water: For great food with an even better view, head to Zola’s on the Water and enjoy a meal on their outside patio. While their wood-fired pizzas are the main attraction, their clam chowder is also to die for.
Mattie’s Pancake House: A local favorite, this no-frills establishment serves up an extensive menu of tasty breakfast dishes.
Campgrounds Near Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Harris Beach State Park: There aren’t any campgrounds within Samuel H. Boardman State Park, but fortunately, this beautiful campground is just a few minutes away. It has 149 campsites, and most of them are open year-round. Some sites can be reserved up to six months in advance. Sites in the C loop are first-come, first-serve from November until the end of May.
Alfred A. Loeb State Park: Located 20 minutes inland from Samuel H. Boardman State Park, this campground is another convenient option. Its 48 campsites all have electricity and water, and they’re open year-round. If you’re lucky, you might get a spot with a view along the scenic river.
Day 5: Portland Escape Camper Vans
Enjoy one last cup of coffee with a view before packing up your camper van and heading back to Portland. The final leg of this road trip is the longest, so make sure you get an early start.
From Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, drive approximately 314 miles (about 5 hours and 31 minutes) to the Portland Escape Camper Vans location to return your camper van.
Why Rent a Camper Van for an Oregon Coast Road Trip?
Compact: Driving down the Oregon Coast, there’ll likely be many times when you want to stop and marvel at the scenery or grab a quick bite to eat. In an RV, these kinds of spontaneous stops can be stressful, especially at crowded attractions with small parking lots. Luckily, in a camper van, you can make stops easily without having to worry about parking. Thanks to our camper vans’ compact designs, you can freely explore anywhere your heart desires.
Easy to Drive: Camper vans are much easier to maneuver than traditional RVs, making them the more user-friendly road trip option. With a camper van, you’ll feel more comfortable on the road, and you won’t have to stress about squeezing into tight parking spaces.
No Hookups Required: Escape’s camper vans do not require electric or sewer hookups like RVs, which makes finding campsites easier. At many campgrounds, camper vans can park at tent sites which can help make your road trip cheaper as well. Not needing electric or sewer hookups also opens up opportunities for dispersed camping.
Adventure-Ready: Created with adventure seekers in mind, our camper vans have everything you need for a worry-free road trip. Plus, Escape Campverans offers a variety of add-ons to enhance your Oregon Coast road trip experience.
Reserve with Escape Camper Vans for Your Oregon Coast Road Trip
We could go on and on about our love for the Oregon Coast, but we think it’s time for you to experience it for yourself! What are you waiting for? Book your dream camper van for your Oregon Coast road trip today!