Prior to crossing the Astoria bridge into Oregon, we had enjoyed a surprising last day in Washington. With so much heard about the beauty of the Oregon coast we figured southern Washington must be almost as good and were keen to explore the south west corner of the state.
Staying on the 101 brought us to the coastal community of Long Beach ( I think we just liked the sound of the place ) and we used the morning to explore its ( obviously very long ! ) beach. A giant sign at the entrance described it as the “World’s Longest Beach”, and while, yes, it is indeed long, I think there are a few others that lay claim to the same honor ! An unexpected bonus was the ability to actually drive on this beach ( rarely possible, but it’s allowed there ). I’d wanted to test the truck’s ability to handle soft sand so this provided an opportunity to do that. Tide charts in hand we ventured out on to the beach in the hour that remained before our beach road would be covered in sea-water. Note to self – the weight of the camper, especially when full of fuel and water, makes a BIG difference to how the vehicle moves through sand, and while getting ON the beach was easy, getting OFF did require slipping it into 4WD. Just a brief moment of panic as the tide started rolling in !
The next few days had us slowly wandering south through the towns of Seaside, Cannon Beach ( perhaps the most beautiful of the Oregon coastal towns ), Manzanita and beyond – lots of rocky cliffs and long stretches of beach all the way down through Tillamook, Cape Lookout, Newport, Yachats and on to Florence. From Florence onwards the coast changes dramatically and is more or less continuous sand dunes right through to Coos Bay. The historic town of Bandon was as far south as we went on the Oregon coast – and spent the night at Bullard Beach state park.
The state parks are truly impressive in Oregon and have been one of the highlights of our stay – exceptionally well run, clean, very well equipped and reasonably priced – hot showers at every one of them ! .They are also invariably located in some of the most stunningly beautiful parts of the state and as a result are blessed with amazing views and a variety of great hiking trails, many of which we sampled. We stayed in three; Cape Lookout, Cape Perpetua ( technically a federal park but equally beautiful, clean and well run! ) and the aforementioned Bullard Beach. I’d recommend them all. For horse lovers, Bullard Beach ticks an additional box – it’s even set up for ‘’horse camping’’. If you have no idea what that is, neither did we until curiosity got the better of us and we drove down the road that was sign posted for horse camping – here is what we saw…..yes, a regular campsite with an enclosure for your horse and a bit of extra room for your horse float. They cater to everyone here ! Definitely a first for us.
The coastal mist and fog did not surprise us about Oregon ( and lent itself to some excellent photo ops ) but we were caught unawares by how cold it was ( at least on the coast ) and how normal this seems to be in August – it was the middle of summer after all. On more than one occasion we commented on this to locals only to be assured that, “No this is pretty typical for Oregon!”. Considerably warmer in Vancouver, Canada and it is over 500 miles north ! Not to worry, our next move was 170 miles inland to Crater Lake – surely it would be warmer there.
Three things stood out for us at Crater Lake – it was stunningly beautiful ( a vivid deep blue colour and is reportedly one of the clearest bodies of water in the world ); it was, finally, much warmer ( despite being at a dramatically higher elevation, approx 6,000ft ); and the drive to it after Roseburg and from it, almost to Medford, was incredibly scenic – something we did not expect. I’ll let the Crater Lake pictures speak for themselves but definitely a sight not to be missed when in these parts. Snagged a great campsite right on the water at nearby Diamond Lake to top off a great detour inland from the coast.
A week had flown by in Oregon and our time there was coming to an end. A good day’s drive back to the coast would have us in Crescent City, California, home of the giant Redwoods – more on that in our next post !