Oregon and Washington coast itinerary
The coast of Oregon and Washington is a gift for the traveler. Along the beautiful and green Highway 101 you will find miles and miles of wild beaches, coastal wildlife, cliffs, dense and deep forests, historic lighthouses and small towns with friendly people. The icing on the cake is that it is full of campsites open all year, with a "hike and bike" section. That is, very cheap campsites for travelers by bicycle or on foot. Because the Oregon Coast Trail runs though here, a road of more than 600 km full of amazing places, including dozens of State Parks and Parks of other categories. We also have wonderful cities like Portland (inland, but not far from the sea) and Seattle. Actually, I would not recommend a fixed itinerary, but simply go along the coast and stop where you like the most. Here we will see some very cool places, but surely there are many more.
By the way, for those who travel with their dogs without their own transport, here is some good news. First of all, dogs can access all the State Parks in Oregon and Washington so you will enjoy your adventures in this lovely state with your buddy. On the other hand, if you want to rest a bit from hitchhiking, this is your place, as some buses on the Oregon coast allow both "service dogs" and "well-behaved dogs" on board (passenger area). And I'm sure your dog behaves well... Well, take advantage of this great option!
Note. In the interior of these states await forests, mountains, lakes, waterfalls... Among them the Mount Rainier National Park and the North Cascades National Park, but we will not see this here.
BROOKINGS AND HARRIS BEACH STATE PARK
Brookings and Harbor are two super quiet towns at the foot of the Harris Beach State Park, with a beautiful and long beach. You can walk among the rocks and reach hidden coves where you will be alone in front of the sea. There is a backpacker friendly campground which costs only $ 5 for those who travel by bike, by hitchhiking or on foot. Brookings is good for walking for a while, especially around the cliffs and the Chetco River area, the river that divides both populations. The Alfred A. Loeb State Park is also nearby.
BANDON AND BULLARDS BEACH STATE PARK
Interesting population on the shores of the Pacific... And the Coquille River. Across the river you can find the historic Coquille River Lighthouse, which belongs to the Bullards Beach State Park. This Park is home to a wetland-type area, with tall grasses and lots of water (with a occasional cool lake), an area of forests and rivers, and, of course, a fabulous beach that stretches for dozens of kilometers, starting at the lighthouse. It also has a $ 5 campsite for walkers.
SUNSET BAY AND CAPE ARAGO STATE PARKS
Two State Parks also on the Pacific coast, whose nearest population is Coos Bay. In addition to the wonderful beaches they host, in the second of these Parks there is another historic lighthouse. You will likely see sea lions in this area. There is a campround.
OREGON DUNES NATIONAL RECREATION AREA AND JESSIE M. HONEYMAN MEMORIAL STATE PARK
The first one, as its name suggests, is a set of dunes that extends for around 40 miles. The Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial SP is a dazzling protected area. It also has incredible dunes, crystalline lakes, and a cheap camping area for "no motor vehicle" travelers. Without a doubt one of the most beautiful Parks in the area. It is near Florence, a very attractive town to the visitor, in the middle of a river mouth.
Another beautiful coastal area. Here you will find huge cliffs and rocks that extend towards the ocean. An excellent area for observing wildlife, birds and marine mammals. Be attentive to the sea lions and seals!
CAPE PERPETUA AREA
In this area there are beautiful viewpoints and beaches to make a stop. From the viewpoints you can spot some sea lions in some coves, so be attentive! I recommend the Stonefield Beach Recreation Area, where you can walk along a beach inhabited by birds... and thousands of mussels! In Oregon you can pick up (if I remember correctly) up to 72 per day. You already have dinner! There are also some cool campsites, such as the Cape Perpetua Campground (only open in summer season).
Fishing village, the most touristic in the area, where you can take the opportunity to make a little more social contact... With humans, and with sea lions! Dozens of these beings are grouped in the channels and the dock. If you have not seen them on any beach yet this is your chance! Here you will see them from very close, if you dare to approach their roars (and their smell)! But there are other things to do in Newport: visit the two lighthouses in the area (Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head); observe the way of life of the fishermen, either by watching them fishing or in the preparation of the food in the factories; stroll along the nearby beaches, and especially the idyllic South Beach State Park, a few kilometers south.
From here you can continue on the coast to the north or get into the interior of Oregon. A fantastic excursion to do is to Salem and Silver Falls State Park, where two handfuls of waterfalls await.
If you continue north, this other port city is waiting for you. As an anecdote, the shortest river in the world passes through here, and craft kites are very popular (you have to take advantage of that beach wind!). The Devil's Lake State Park is the closest recreation site to explore.Lincoln City is the best point to leave the coast in search of Portland, but let's first see two other interesting points of the Oregon Coast.
CANNON BEACH AND ECOLA STATE PARK
The small community of Cannon Beach stands out for the famous "Haystack Rock", a fabulous rock formation on the shore and the most photographed spot along the coast. But take the opportunity to visit also the nearby Ecola State Park, a couple of miles north of the city.
Located on the banks of the Columbia River, right on the border with the state of Washington, Astoria has, once again, amazing wild beaches. But this port city also has another attraction in its timber and fishing history. You can visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum to learn more about the history of the region and Fort Clatsop of Lewis and Clark, a recreation of the explorers' fort south of the city. There are a few good restaurants to treat yourself, as you must be tired of sandwiches and soups. Fort Stevens State Park is a nice park to do some country trips and camping.
From Astoria you can turn inland, towards Portland, or cross the Columbia River (there is a bridge) to Washington and continue along the coast.
Back to urban life! Located on the Willamette and Columbia rivers and with Mount Hood rising on the horizon, this clean and tidy city welcomes the visitor with an elegant "downtown" of tall buildings. It is known for its environmentalist ideals, its culture and art. Immerse yourself in one of its museums, galleries or theaters. It is also known for beer! Congratulations to all beer lovers (we are many in the world). If you have the chance, visit the surrounding alpine lakes, rivers, waterfalls and mountains. To highlight the Mt Hood National Forest (where Mt Hood is located, the highest peak in the state), the Multnomah Falls, and some reserves a few kilometers away from the city. Salem (capital of Oregon) and the Silver Falls State Park are also practically within walking distance.
The largest and liveliest city in the state of Washington awaits you with open arms. Its magnificent location between waterways in which its skyscrapers are reflected is its hallmark. Among the most emblematic buildings are the Space Needle, the Columbia Center or the Washington Mutual Tower. The port area is very cool too. In addition, Seattle is known for something else: grunge music, which emerged in tis prt of the world in the 80s. The sound of Seattle!
POTLATCH STATE PARK
A small State Park in front of the Hood Canal. The views of this canal full of ducks are spectacular, and the forest offers a few walks with rivers and lakes scattered around. The trails start from the campsite itself.
OLYMPIC NATIONAL FOREST
This humid forest is gigantic, with a wide range of excursion options. Rivers, waterfalls, lakes, ascents to peaks... All super wild and little traveled. There are multi-day routes for the more adventurous. Most of the National Forest is inaccessible in winter (closed roads).
DUNGENESS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Close to Sequim is this incredible spit no more than 20-30 meters wide that goes for tens of kilometers into the sea without being devoured by water. You can walk through it surrounded by sea on both sides. A show that you will enjoy in the company of all the birds that are present there, and maybe some other marine mammal. In addition, the road to reach the spit is beautiful, starting from a parking lot that is on top of a hill (excellent views). It is a descent passing through a forest with small creeks that are crossed by wooden bridges.
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
A great diversity of landscapes makes up this Park. Part of the blame lies with the enormous range of altitudinal zonation with coastal and mountain ecosystems. Thus, you will find alpine forests, blue lakes and amazing views, humid forests plagued by ferns and rivers, waterfalls, deserted beaches... Likewise, the excursions range from short trips of less than an hour to multi-day treks. There is bad news: it is one of the areas in the world where more rainfall is registered. In fact, the Twilight saga was shot in this area mainly due to its misty and rainy landscapes.
Interesting port population on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Good place to do a little social life, eat well and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of this small town. The promenade is cool, with some small beach and a tower that you can climb to enjoy the views. The beaches and surrounding rocky areas are very nice too. Another spit stands next to the port. It is the closest town to the Hurricane Ridge sector of Olympic NP (in fact the Park Visitor Center is in the same city).
All this western corner of the United States is virgin and little explored. I recommend you to discover it, either by hitchhiking or renting a car.
Several ferries depart daily from Port Angeles to Victoria, on Vancouver Island. This was our next adventure... If you want to continue reading click here. Welcome to Canada guys!