Oregon Coast and Crater Lake
Oregon Coast Glamping September 2020
Normally this time of year we would be on a plane off to explore another bucket list region of some far-flung foreign country. Coping with air travel, connections, ground transportation, car rentals and hotels while ensuring that we remain in step with our well-planned itinerary.
The Covid pandemic has left us wanting for those times and a great sense of appreciation for the ease with which we could move globally. Many of us have become accustomed to social distancing and the new stay at home economy only to dream about a time in the future where we could exercise those freedoms to roam the globe once again. In the meantime, we get creative with what we can do while maintaining the restrictions that are in place, keeping ourselves and others safe from the virus. New Hobbies, backyard travel, and other creative ways have been employed to ensure our sanity and relieve the stress of captivation.
As I mentioned in previous posts, road trips and camping have become so popular that outdoor retailers have found it difficult to keep things like tents, sleeping bags and of course recreational vehicles in stock. Try finding a bicycle to purchase or a campsite with availability.
We live near a state beach park that I often pass through on beach walks. I have seen a noticeable difference in the number of people packing into each camping spot during the pandemic. Where usually you would find one family per campsite, now its normal to see the entire neighborhood invited to share a single small plot of camp space, 10, 12, 14 people, multiple tents, cars, bikes and all sort of toys to keep everyone entertained, practically on top of each other tightly packed into the small space.
Since we joined the backyard travel craze and purchased an RV we quickly discovered that this rush to recreate has made it nearly difficult to find available sites to stay when planning a getaway. We’ve managed to squeeze in a few trips, mostly in nearby parks or day trips to a local beachside day use park. Alas we see that with the arrival of September and school starting in one form or the other, reservations are becoming a bit easier to find at the moment.
For this trip, we were able to piece together 10 days up the Oregon Coast and over to Crater lake. As we were planning this trip we found that many state parks, national parks, and visitors centers were closed either due to Covid-19 protocols or nearby fires and smoke prior to our arrival so we didn't have a chance to visit some areas. Guess we will have to come back!
Researching RV sites and checking daily for any cancellations we were able to put together a nice getaway. Prior to our departure both California and Oregon were experiencing major devastating fires, causing us to revisit our plans. The fires and devastation were not necessarily on our route directly but we're close enough to place thick smoke and unhealthy air quality along the route. We were also conscious about traveling through areas where resources were stretched. With a little rain in the forecast for the north, and positive progress made in controlling the fires, we decided to head out and remain flexible should our plans need to change.
Monday morning, the Navion (aka The Road Runner) loaded, we headed up the California coast to Moss landing for our first overnight. Near Paso Robles we ventured off the path toward Lake Nacimiento to check it out for a future visit. Along the route through rolling hills, golden pastures and vineyards, we passed a herd of Longhorns lounging around checking out passers by. We picked the KOA in Moss Landing because I had stayed there for a previous quick overnight. A nice clean RV park perfect for a night or two. We checked in to our space, freshened up and headed over to Castroville and Birriria Colcomal, a locals favorite to pick up dinner. Back at the park we enjoyed some really good Red tacos and enchiladas.
Tuesday morning we walked along the harbor checking out the fishing activities, then walked along the beach. After packing up the rig, we grabbed a couple of large breakfast burritos from Phils snack shack and were on our way to the Humboldt redwoods for our next overnight.
In the Humboldt Redwoods State Park We detoured through “Avenue of the Giants” an amazing stretch of curvy two lane road that parallels highway 101 along the Russian river for about 30 miles. lined with giant redwoods almost as if you were driving through a redwood tunnel, you can do that too as many old school roadside attractions exist to lure travelers.
We stopped in the tiny "town" of Redcrest to see if we could spot a landmark from Gary's past. When we stopped to see them for a quick visit on the way up north, he told us a story of him living in Redcrest in a small cottage with his parents and siblings while his dad Louis was working road construction in the area. He said he has a photo of him and his brother Gene on the front porch of the cottage. Were were able to find the place and sent him some photos of what it looks like today, mostly unchanged from what it was like during their time there about 70 years ago.
Our stopping point is Ancient Redwoods RV park, a small RV campground nearby, about 2/3 of the way through the Avenue of the Giants which is also home of the Immortal tree and gift shop, one of the surviving old school roadside attractions that line the roadway.
After a peaceful night in the redwoods, we continued our drive through avenue of the giants. We stopped at two different spots along the route for a short forest walk and river exploration, taking in the beautiful landscapes of the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It's a humbling experience to be surrounded by these giant redwoods and the peaceful solitude their forest provides. The sound of a breeze blowing through their high outstretched branches, The cawing of a few Ravens scouring the area for food, The muffled quiet created by centuries of composted needles and branches that line the forest floor.
Our destination tonight is Harris Beach State Park just north of Brookings Oregon. Passing north through more amazing forests, Humboldt Bay and the Pacific shoreline just south of Eureka. We stopped in Old Town Eureka for a walk through the area. Further North we stopped in Mary's favorite small town of Trinidad, walked around the harbor and Pier then a scenic detour to the south from there along a narrow and sometimes unpaved cliffside road to another amazing beach.
A bit farther North we came across a herd of Elk hanging out in a misty field. You could tell who was in charge as the large bull male looked over his flock.
Arriving in Brookings we were greeted to a beautiful sunset just north of town where the large rocks along the beach and in the water were changing color from the sun setting while a mist of fog wrapped around them.
Before checking in we drove down to the beach and finished watching the sunset over mist shrouded rocks, driftwood laiden sandy beach, and crashing waves.
We read that Harris Beach State Park is one of the best in Oregon. Our visit and experience here confirmed the high regard for this well maintained park and spectacular coastline. Our overnight spot was on a tree lined bluff above the ocean providing a filtered view of the water below (once the fog cleared). The beach and hiking trails there were of equal beauty and well worth the trip. Sorry that we are here just for one night but we enjoyed our departure morning hike and walk along the beach.
Today's destination is a small RV park Sea Perch, on the beach between the towns of Florence and Yachats. We ran into heavy for and rain today so the scenic opportunities were not visible on most of the route. Still a gorgeous drive through forests, cliffs and I’m sure amazing coastline. Passing through Gold Beach, Bandon, the Oregon Dunes, a beautiful stretch of the Cape Arago Highway, and Coos Bay.
We stopped in Old Town Bandon and walked around the historic town at the pier. We watched people through their small crab traps from the pier in hopes of landing a crab or two for dinner. We walked by a small bait shop in the area that sold and rented crab traps, tempting us to try our hand at some fishing. Speaking of crab, we found Tony's Crab Shack for lunch and feasted on crab sandwiches.
Further north we strolled through the Old River town of Florence. The Siuslaw flows right through the heart of town, and the wooden storefront buildings along its riverside promenade give this small coastal community some real historical character.
Just north of Florence we passed through Heceta Head state park and Lighthouse (visible barely through the fog). The lighthouse sits at the edge of a rocky promontory above the crashing waves of the Pacific. The Victorian-era lighthouse-keeper’s house is run as a B&B.
Arriving at Sea Perch RV Resort at dusk we could hear the waves crashing in the background as we settled in to our spot. The resort has large spotlights that light up a portion of the wide, sandy beach, highlighting the long line of waves breaking on the sand. In the light mist, glass of wine in hand we sat on one of the seaside benches just above the sand, night skies illuminated by the lights reflecting in the mist, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the gentle waves. We awoke to rain in the morning which for us was nice since we don't get much of it where we live. The rain didn’t stop a walk on the beach before we departed.
Next up is a two nights stay at Pacific Shores MotorCoach Resort just north of Newport. With the rain subsiding and fog lifting for the most part today we were able to see more of the stunning coastline. Our drive from sea perch took us through Cape Perpetua, a large forested headland with stunning jagged shores. We stopped for a photo op at Thor’s Well, we walked down the hill and out on the rocks for a close up of this water sculpted well where the ocean ebbs and flows into and out of the large crater like abyss.
Arriving in Newport you have a great view of one of the most famous bridges on the Oregon coast, a long, graceful span marking the entrance to the city. Before heading to the resort, we stopped in Newports Bayfront, Home to the famous Rogue Brewery. Tourists and fishermen from the city’s fishing fleets share the street, where most of the commercial fishing boats unload their catch. Walking along the bay you will find shops, restaurants, and many other activities in a bustling and colorful atmosphere. Be sure to walk between the buildings to view the sea lions resting on the docks! A late lunch at Mo’s Seafood & Chowder then were off to check-in.
The Pacific Shores MotorCoach Resort is just as the name implies, a resort for Motor Coaches, no trailers, run down motorhomes, etc… Most occupants here were in their mega coaches. The sites are individually owned and part of an HOA so each site differs a bit in the amenities and upgrades each owner has made. Pretty posh for “camping” oh and did I mention its right on the bluff above the beach with a view of the nearby Yaquina head lighthouse! We sat outside in the cool damp air with our small fire enjoying the view and distant sounds of crashing waves.
Today the roadrunner (our RV) stays parked at the resort, I figure it needs a little pampering and rest sometimes. We picked up a rental car and we were off to our days destination of Tillamook.
Head to the Nye Beach neighborhood, where you’ll find access to a long, wonderfully strollable beach. Newport was one of the first resort towns on the Oregon coast, and many of the homes in Nye Beach date from the early 1900s. This is also a good spot to have dinner.
Three Capes Scenic Loop, a 35-mile loop drive that leaves U.S. 101 at Pacific City and takes you to three giant headlands where you can hike, camp, or just enjoy the spectacular scenery from viewpoints along the way. or you can continue on to Tillamook, where the scenic loop rejoins U.S. 101.
Today leads us away from the coast as we head for Crater Lake. Passing through central Oregon we stopped at Deluxe Brewing Company, then Broadley Vineyards. The skies gradually became a bit more smokey as we approached Crater Lake due to some of the lingering major fires in Oregon this season. It wasnt too bad when we got to crater lake.
We stayed at the Mazama Campground, which was very quiet and only a few fellow campers. The Park is scheduled to close for the season on the day of our departure and I am sure the fires in the are kept people away. In the morning we drove the breathtaking loop around the rim of the lake. The road is high above the water providing for panoramic views. We found a great picnic spot as you can see in the pictures below.
On the way home today we stopped in Stockton at the RiverPoint Landing, a marina and small RV park right on the river. As you can see it was a nice spot to overnight and break up the long drive