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Covering 160 miles of Oregon coast travel: Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.

Spring is here. Are you ready?

Travel Tips: Oregon Coast Campgrounds, RV Parks Provide Wonders

(Oregon Coast) - Oregon is blessed with some of the loveliest scenery and campgrounds in the world, although perhaps not always the best weather for camping. But now that it's spring, the tides have turned for the rabid outdoorsman, and it's time to enjoy a good night's sleep under the stars.

On the coast, there are dozens of campsites, under the aegis of the state, the counties and sometimes the Forest Service. Yet all provide exceptional opportunities for beachcombing and recreation of varying kinds, while spending the night just a ways from the surf. You'll find all degrees of roughing it: from primitive campsites to the cozy yurts, and sites with a huge array of amenities.

This catalog of campgrounds runs from north to south, but it isn't all-inclusive. There are definitely more than these listed here.

Fort Stevens State Park

It's time to get lost in history in this place just south of Astoria.

Here, enormous gunneries once guarded the mouth of the Columbia River, lodged in huge turrets which rested in sprawling concrete fortresses - all empty and abandoned now, with gaping holes like sad, hollow eyes where guns, officers' quarters and other war machinery once sat.

In this beautiful but occasionally eerie place, you'll find Battery Russell and its enormous concrete bunkers. Built around the turn of the last century, the gunnery eventually watched for invaders during World War II. It's famous for getting shelled by a Japanese submarine in 1942 - being the only place on American soil that was fired on by a foreign power since the War of 1812.

Another prominent feature of this incredibly huge park - which is actually the biggest west of the Mississippi - is the large number of campsites. There are 173 full hook-up sites, 157 with water and power, 194 tent and RV sites as well as 15 yurts. Hot showers and full restrooms add to the outdoor pleasures.

You'll also find the wreck of the Peter Iredale on these beaches. Known as the world's most photographed shipwreck, it's the skeletal remains of a schooner that wrecked here in 1906.

Enter the park by a six-mile drive after going west off 101 at the signs - approximately a half-mile south of MP 9.

Oswald West State Park

This sprawling, forested oasis runs along the highway for over five miles, encompassing trails through thick rainforests, headlands, viewpoints, campgrounds and some beautiful beach spots and hidden places.

There are day-use areas about MP 39 on both sides of the highway. These allow you access to the campgrounds, trails to Short Sand Beach and the 5-mile roundtrip hike to Cape Falcon and its viewpoints.

There are a few primitive campsites along some of the trails. The park provides wheelbarrows to carry your stuff to the campsites.

The Cape Falcon hike is part of the Oregon Coast Trail system, and allows you the option of continuing on to Arch Cape - making a total of an 8-mile-long hike. You begin at a tunnel going under the highway, then wind towards the campground and Short Sand Beach. Instead of taking the beach trail, continue north and keep left, eventually - 2.5 miles later - ending up atop the headland of Cape Falcon and its various dramatic ocean viewpoints.

Or, you can keep going north along the cape, past three cliff-edge viewpoints, and eventually the trail veers inland to meet up with the small footbridge - about a half-mile from Highway 101, inside the tiny community of Arch Cape.

The park is also the access to Short Sand Beach and Falcon Cove, one of the more popular beaches for surfing on the coast. There's an engaging suspension bridge near the beach.

Nehalem Bay State Park

At the north end of Nehalem, this sprawling shoreline of nothing but sand goes on for over two miles. A good two miles down the sand spit you may find spots to watch seals rather closely.

But don't get too close: bothering them in their natural habitat is illegal.

This beautiful state campground contains 284 campsites, full toilet systems and hot showers. Each campground features a picnic table and a fire pit. There's also a horse camp with 17 sites and two corrals.

Or you can rent your own horse ride at Northwest Equine Outfitters and have a myriad of choices for rides. (503) 801-RIDE.

Cape Lookout State Park

West of Tillamook, along the Three Capes Tour, Cape Lookout State Park appears at MP 0 because the road here changes from Whiskey Creek Road to Cape Lookout Road.

The beach at this popular park is mostly one immense, sandy stretch, going on for nearly five miles to the north into Netarts Spit. Parts of the beach dip steeply into the tide line, causing the waves to crash loudly and abruptly, then quickly running out of steam and altogether creating an intense, natural spectacle.

Hiking on the Netarts Spit is no small feat, but you'll enjoy the solitude as much as the opportunity for clam digging. A ways after the two-mile point, look for paths onto higher dunes for more stunning viewpoints. Along much of the way, green, mushy marshland follows you to the end of the spit, where roses, wild strawberries and other plant life delectables lie on the pathways.

If you're hiking this entire sandy wonder and looking to make this journey in a loop, this is sometimes a difficult undertaking. There is no official return route around the spit. However, the bayside is filled with thick vegetation, and if you're really willing to rough it, you could trudge through the brush even without a real trail.

Cape Lookout boasts 191 campsites (two accommodating the disabled), one electrical site, four group camping areas, a reservable picnic area, a meeting hall, four yurts, 54 full RV hookup campsites (maximum 30 feet), full restroom and shower facilities as well as a waste disposal station.

Cape Lookout has a $3 day-use fee. Campsite reservations can be made at (503) 842-2545.

Sand Lake Campground and Its Dunes

Sand Lake, as seen from Cape Lookout

A sprawling region of dunes takes over part of the Three Capes Tour - so expansive they are known as the ``Other Dunes on the Oregon Coast.'' Take Galloway Road (just north of Pacific City, at approximately MP 5 on the Three Capes Tour) and you'll find a place where ATV enthusiasts abound.

Sand Lake is divided into the East Dunes, the West Winds campground area and the Fisherman Day-Use area. In between these sections, there are numerous sandy trails meandering throughout the small, brownish pines.

From Sand Beach northward, it's a sandy, grassy, dune-covered stretch of about 4 miles until the secretive cove at the bottom of Cape Lookout - and not much else. But after the first mile it's usually pure solitude as you leave the roaring ATV's far behind.

Beverly Beach State Park

Access to this popular state park and campground north of Newport is on the east side of the highway, just south of the southern entrance to the Devil's Punchbowl.

Some 273 campsites stuff this popular park, with a beach access via a tunnel underneath Highway 101. From there, you've got a mile and a half of sand to the north before you reach the Devil's Punchbowl; to the south, there's a whole four miles of beach before you're stopped by Yaquina Head.

76 of these sites have water and electricity, 129 are tent sites, and there are 53 RV sites. Some even come with cable TV hookups.

Tillicum Beach Campground

This well-maintained campground is a gem on the coast. Smack dab between Waldport and Yachats, it's a longtime favorite among those in the know.

The campground's 59 campsites, full amenities, RV spots and even a small amphitheater that comes complete with an electrical system and a large outdoor movie screen helps make this one of the coolest Forest Service campgrounds in existence.

You can count miles and miles of endless sand as one of the big attractions, accessible by a neatly kept, manmade walkway with metal railings. Once there, you'll find small dirt cliffs that sometimes form miniature coves in which to hide from the wind. You can also climb around some areas, or you may find tiny little paths ducking off into the brush for a short ways to explore.

Carl G. Washburne State Park

In this sometimes mysterious and distinctly unpopulated stretch of beaches between Florence and Yachats, about two miles south of pristine Muriel Ponsler Wayside, you’ll find this forested park, with an entrance almost hidden by the trees if not for the prominent State Park sign pointing it out.

It's also a big one on the coast, with 58 full-hookup campsites, yurts, six walk-in tent sites and fireplaces. The campground includes a hiker/biker camp, some wheelchair access and hot showers and full restrooms are also available.

There's an easy trail to the beach, containing miles of sand and some surprises. From the main beach access, head south and for the next mile or so you'll find beautiful little cove-like places, the first of which is only a quarter mile down the beach. Some of these are only maybe 30 feet wide and 20 feet deep, which makes them perfect for letting the rays in but keeping the wind out.

Or for a much longer walk, you can head east from the park and hike a two-mile loop up the hilly forestland to China Creek and a few ponds - including a beaver-dammed lake.


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In Awe of AstoriaASTORIA
Where the Columbia meets the Pacific, Land of Lewis & Clark and loads of atmosphere & history
Serenity in SeasideSEASIDE
The Promenade, Tillamook Head, family fun & broad, sandy beaches
Cavort in Cannon BeachCANNON BEACH
A mysterious lighthouse, upscale yet earthy, a huge monolith, fine eateries & an art mecca
Annihilating  Beauty of Nehalem BayNEHALEM BAY
Manzanita's beaches, Nehalem and Wheeler's quirky beauty; laid back Rockaway
Time Trip Around Tillamook BayTILLAMOOK BAY
Garibaldi, Barview, Bay City, Tillamook & an oceanfront ghost town
Triple the Pleasure in 3 CapesTHREE CAPES LOOP
The hidden secret of the coast: Cape Meares, a lighthouse, Oceanside, Netarts and Pacific City
Miles & miles of unbroken beaches, Cascade Head, Neskowin and many manmade attractions
Divine Depoe BayDEPOE BAY
A spouting horn downtown, freaky hidden cliffs and whales, whales, whales
Nature in NewportNEWPORT
Time-tripping Nye Beach, a bustling bayfront, marine science-central and two lighthouses
Staggering Seal RockWALDPORT / SEAL ROCK
Pristine, even secretive sands and wild geologic landmarks
Aargh, there's no alliteration with Yachats - but it IS unbelievableYACHATS
Constantly dramatic wave action, a mix of the rugged & upscale
Unsurpassable Upper LaneUPPER LANE COUNTY
25 miles of deserted beaches & oodles of wonders
Fine Times in FlorenceFLORENCE
A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles and miles of fluffy dunes


SUPER FAMILY FRIENDLY (and dog-friendly too)

SAN DUNE INN, MANZANITA. Super friendly and perfect for families or lovers - including a "honeymoon suite." All sorts of amazing freebies, like bikes, games, videos, etc. Read the story here. 428 Dorcas Lane. www.sanduneinn.com. 503-368-5163.



STARFISH POINT is located on the Central Oregon Coast - in Newport - and offers only the finest in luxury condominium lodging. At Starfish Point, every unit is focused on the beauty of the sea and the beach.
All of the units boast two bedrooms, two bathrooms, designer kitchens, wireless broadband Internet, fireplaces, Jacuzzi’s and private decks - surrounding you in soothing relaxation. We have a friendly staff dedicated to high quality and superb customer service. 140 NW 48th Street, Newport. (541) 265-3751. (800) 870-7795.



Oregon Travel Secrets: Weird Science, Spring Rarities on the Coast The 'secret season' and other spectacular oddities abound

Taste-Testing Tourism on the North Oregon Coast Numerous lodging, dining and beach secrets lurk here

'Ocean Burps' Leave Oddities on Seaside Beaches A semi-regular natural occurrance is leaving strange things on the beach

Oregon Tourism Alert: Spring Rarities in Newport Much is new in Newport, especially in the natural world





TROLLERS LODGE - Depoe Bay. Insanely adorable, all rooms have a personal touch in the décor. Find a lovely garden, porch with a view, gas grills, picnic area, phones, cable TV and some rooms with incredible ocean views. It’s also very pet friendly. Three truly remarkable vacation homes are available too. 355 SW Hwy 101, Depoe Bay * (800) 472-9335 or (541) 765-2287. www.trollerslodge.com.



ARCH CAPE HOUSE. You can't get much more romantic than this: antiques, wine social hour, gourment breakfast, whirlpools - all in a castle-like setting overlooking the ocean. Call for V Day specials. East Ocean Rd. - S. of Cannon Beach. www.archcapehouse.com. 800-436-2848.



OLD WHEELER HOTEL, Wheeler. Beauty resonates from this place, with a bay view from every room, hard wood floors and a classical décor. Each room has a vibrant charm - from the bedspreads to the delicate light fixtures. You may find a clawfoot bathtub as well. Read the story here. Hwy 101 and Gregory. www.oldwheelerhotel.com. 877-4theview.