After several years of tossing around the idea we finally decided to head out on a 12-day tenting adventure down the Oregon Coast. We packed up the truck and pushed south to Florence and started our tour from South to North. Everyone told us September was the best month to go but to expect rain and cool temps. We really lucked out this trip. Every day was genuinely sunny and warm excluding the last few where the sky was filled with smoke, fog and evening showers as we got closer to the Washington border.
The sand dunes had to be the highlight of our trip; definitely a must do. We booked a 30-minute sandrail tour with Sandland Adventures and they sure know how to show you an adrenaline filled time. The dune buggies would reach speeds up to 60 mph, racing through the dunes, up and down the hills with sand flying everywhere.
The coast is best known for its historic lighthouses with 11 that blot the shore line. The Yaquina Head lighthouse was quite engaging and had an interactive tour with your guide in costume to inform you of the past. While there you could also walk down to the ocean with its polished black stones and we were even lucky enough to see seals and whales in the cove.
We tried to spent our nights in our tent within the state parks, but on a few occasions we were forced into hotels as no spots were available. Reserving accommodations we figured out pretty quickly was a must do prior to heading any further or we would ending up with no place to stay. This was a little untraditional for us and changed the feel of the remainder of our trip. We made a stop at the aquarium in Newport, checked out the harbour and walked the touristy streets in the evening. There was a sea lion viewing area where we got to watch the 20 some odd lions lounge around and argue over sleeping quarters.
Cape Kiwanda State Natural area was another favorite for us. We got to drive right down onto the beach and park front row at the ocean. Tyson wanted to watch the waves and surfers but a lot of the afternoon was spent observing other vehicles drive down onto the sand and get stuck. 4X4 and high clearance was a must. There was a huge sand mountain to hike up and take in the vistas all around. You can’t skip out on the out of control descent back to the ocean either. Beautiful views and quite the relaxing day.
Shannon, being a cheese lover, had to stop in Tillamook at the cheese factory for free samples, twice. Then not too much further north up the road was a beef jerky outlet that we had to hit up as well.
We signed up for a railroad bike ride from Garibaldi to Tillamook through Oregon Coast Railriders which was a lovely way to get some exercise and get out and enjoy the scenery along the tracks. Local handcrafts and salt water taffy was everywhere along this coast but the best price we found was in Rockaway Beach. This was a town that if you blink you would miss it, but well worth stopping in and walking the beach to see the famous arch rock and small local shops.
We continued our journey up to the ever popular Cannon beach for haystack rock and a bit further north yet to Del Rey Beach State Park. Here you could easily drive onto the beach where at low tide we raced down the sand into the fog and mist of the ocean. We parked on the sand, enjoyed some lunch in what seemed like total isolation from any other tourist.
As we drove on, our last and final stop was at the Astoria Column. Spectacular 360 degree panoramic views of the bridges, city, coastline and forests where we got to say goodbye to the ocean and start our long drive home.
The state parks we stayed at were all amazing, Jessie M. Honeyman, Cape Lookout and Nehalem Bay. We had to make reservations for all of these sites and we would recommend it.
There is so much to see and do on this coast line that one would never be bored. We only enjoyed a few handfuls of what was offered. We will return, one day, probably exploring more of the coast from Florence south next time.