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I've spent a little bit of time in Portland and throughout Oregon.
First, since Oregon has no sales tax, you'll likely want to hit up some of the outlet malls. Well, that's for sure something my wife would like to do ;-)
Portland is a fantastic town. If you're into microbreweries or gastro pubs, you'll have no shortage of places to check out.
Cannon Beach is great. Absolutely love it there when it's not raining.
Sand dunes. Hire a driver to take you on a 30-minute ride. Don't drive yourself. It's a blast and something not to be missed.
Written Oct 14, 2012
During our trip along the Oregon Coast in 2011 we ended our trip with 2 nights in the area of Portland. On one of our full days in Portland we drove to the beautiful Multnomah Falls along the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge. Finally the weather was decent as we didn't have much sunshine on the coast. What a beautiful place!
Try and get here early enough because it can get fairly busy. We got there around 10.00am and it was pretty busy already. This might be especially helpful if you like to take photos, this way there is still enough room to place your tripod and not have too many people around you that might bump you.
There are some trails in the area to other waterfalls and to walk to the bridge at the Multnomah Falls. There is also a lodge with a giftshop, restaurant and more.
This waterfall is on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, located east of Troutdale, between Corbett and Dodson, along the Historic Columbia River Highway. The falls drops in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 542 feet (165 m) and a lower falls of 69 feet (21 m), with a gradual 9 foot (3 m) drop in elevation between the two, so the total height of the waterfall is conventionally given as 620 feet (189 m). Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the State of Oregon. It is credited by a sign at the site of the falls as the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States (info from Wikipedia)
Written Oct 5, 2012
When you are driving the Three Capes Scenic Route you will pass along Cape Kiwanda as well, the smallest of the three. But it is a beautiful place, especially to experience some spectacular wave action. When we were there it was pretty cloudy and it started to rain, so we didn't stay very long. From what we could see it looks like a beautiful beach with a great view and I think if the tide comes in again, the waves would splash spectacularly up against the cliffs at Cape Kiwanda. Close to Cape Kiwanda are a few cute little stores with some nice souvenirs and other stuff. There were also many hotels/motels and restaurants in that area.
We just enjoyed a walk on the beach to enjoy the beautiful views at Cape Kiwanda. But the following things can all be enjoyed in this area: trail walking, hike up the sand dunes and run down, try sand boarding, watch the dory boats launch to sea, rent a surfboard, explore mazes of tide pools, etc...
Written Oct 5, 2012
When you are in the Tillamook area you will see a sign that reads "Three Capes Scenic Route" If you follow this route it will take you to Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint. This place is located on a headland about 200 feet above the ocean. Cape Meares has about 3 miles of hiking trails. From here you can enjoy beautiful views of the rocks in the water. This place also has one of the largest colonies of nesting common murres. Bald eagles and a peregrine falcon have also been known to nest near here. There are also other uncommon birds found here, there was a park ranger who had set up some type of telescope to view one of these uncommon birds...but I forgot the name of it. It was really cool to see! You will also see the 1890's lighthouse which features a little gift shop.
There are also picnic grounds here which makes it a gorgeous place for a quiet picnic. If you continue to drive the Three Capes you also pass Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda.
Written Oct 2, 2012
Oswald West was an early Governor of Oregon, the man who set the stage for most of the coast of Oregon being saved as State Parkland. Amazing how about every 5-10 miles is another Park open for free to the public to use and enjoy. Every state should have such a conscience overseeing the natural resources for its people.
Written May 13, 2012
Address: Hiway 101
There are dozens of State Parks along the Oregon Coast. These are mostly not too difficult to find as they are well signed, but you do have to be looking for the sign. On the average, you will run across one of these about every 8 miles or so as you are driving along the coast. However, these are not regularly spaced at all. You will run across clusters of them in some places, and then in others there will be a significant distance between them.
Due to the sheer size of my Oregon Coast tip and my Oregon State Parks tip, I have decided to specifically highlight a few of the state parks along the Oregon Coast to give a few examples of what you will find here. The parks are as varied as the coast upon which they sit, and due to the sheer number of them it is hard to try to recommend one particular park over another, as it really depends on the features that someone is looking for in a park. Furthermore, we locals prefer certain coast state parks based on a few very specific things that are special to us, and due to the sheer number of parks these may or may not be relevant to any other person's desire for travel features.
Here are Some examples of Oregon Coast State Parks (so that you can see the variety). This is a far from extensive list, but these are only some examples of what state parks are along our coast. Also, keep in mind that there are also county and city parks along the coast as well. So, your choice of recreation spots along the coast are very extensive. If you do want a complete list of state parks along the coast, take a look at the state parks web site at the bottom of the page:
Ecola State Park is just south of Seaside and north of Cannon Beach. It has a view south to Haystack Rock and thus provides one of the most famous views in Oregon.
Arcadia Beach - this is a tiny state park with little more than a gravel parking lot and beach access. There is a pit toilet, and other than the beach access there isn't anything of interest here. Here, the beach is reasonably walkable, especially at low tide.
Hug Point is another location where the only attraction is beach access. It also has only a bit toilet, and it is located very close to Arcadia Beach. While it is hemmed in by rocky peninsulas on the north and south, it also has a small cave carved into one of the peninsulas that is a unique feature.
Cape Lookout - This one is fairly varied. In the north there is a peninsula which forms a bay, and on which there are beaches and camping facilities and other purposes. The south side of the park is located on a rocky cliff of a peninsula with a hiking trail that goes to its very end. There is also a beach on the south side of this rocky peninsula, but to get to it requires a long walk on a switchback trail down the side of the cliff, which descends several hundred feet in elevation. Remember at the end of the day when you are tired you will have to climb all the way back up!
Cape Meares - This is day use only, and has a lighthouse and a unique tree. It has very good views of Three Arch Rocks.
Nehalem Bay - Located just south of the town of Manzanita, this state park is located somewhat off of Highway 101. It is also located on a sandy peninsula between the bay and the ocean. There are camping facilities including RV facilities and yurts. The day use area has several trails, and in the peak tourist season a concessionaire is present in the horse camping area that rents out horses for beach horse riding. If you are camping and realize you forgot something, there are several ways in which you can walk or drive to Manzanita to their small collection of stores and restaurants.
Oswald West - Located just north of Manzanita, it is not possible to get to Manzanita from this park on foot. The highway is crammed into a narrow ledge along the cliffs of the coast, and for some distance there isn't a beach at all - just a steep cliff. At the north end of the park, there is some beach access, but getting there from the highway requires a bit of a walk from the parking lot. It has some spectacular views, especially from the narrow pull-outs on highway 101.
South Beach - This is a popular location for surfing and it is one of the beaches in Oregon that has been growing in recent years. The construction of the breakwaters for the entrance to the harbor resulted in the ocean current depositing large amounts of silt here, and thus over the years this beach has grown from almost no beach at all to a fairly significant beach with dunes.
Oceanside Beach State Park - This state park does not appear to have a location of its own in the VirtualTourist system, but it is located right in downtown Oceanside. It is one of several beach state parks located inside coastal cities themselves.
Fort Stevens - when the military decided that the mouth of the Columbia River no longer required heavy fortifications, this land became a state park. There are remains of the old fortifications, a military museum, beaches, a campground that includes several types of accomodation, and the Wreck of the Peter Iredale inside the state park. There are paved bike paths that are well constructed to not conflict with road traffic.
Updated Mar 22, 2012
Ecola State Park is one of the most beautiful places along the Oregon Coast from what I have seen. You have a great view over Cannon Beach with Haystack Rock, Indian Beach with its many sea stacks and the Tillamook Lighthouse a ways off shore. There are several miles of trails in the park for those who have lots of time. If you don't have much time, the main area is definitely worth the few dollars you have to pay for this park. If you do have a bit more time, it's also worth going down to Indian Beach which is a bit of a secluded beach.
One of Ecola State Park's first attractions was a beached whale. In 1806, Capt. William Clark and twelve members of the Corps of Discovery climbed over rocky headlands and fought their way through thick shrubs and trees to get to the whale in what is now Ecola State Park. Today, a paved road from Cannon Beach makes your trek to the park much easier. Winding your way through towering Sitka spruce, you suddenly emerge upon a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean.
Ecola State Park offers year-round recreation for all types of modern day explorers. Stop for a picnic to feed your hungry adventurers before taking to the many miles of trails. At Indian Beach you can begin your own expedition on The Clatsop Loop Trail, a new interpretive trail you that gives you the chance to walk in the footsteps of Capt. Clark and his men.
There's more to the park than this rich history. Surfers ride the waves at Indian Beach and tide pools await your discovery. Keep a watchful eye open for the many species of wildlife and birds that call Ecola home. Spot migrating gray whales during winter and spring.
Written Jan 26, 2012
On the day of arrival at the house we rented in Gearhart we decided to walk down to the beach as it was only about 10-15 minute walk. Sunset Beach is a big sandy beach which allows cars on the beach as well. Kind of different to see and experience as this is not always common in other countries.
Sunset Beach is a small unincorporated community located between the cities of Seaside and Warrenton in Clatsop County, Oregon, United States. Sunset Beach is located between U.S. Route 101, Neacoxie Lake and the Pacific Ocean. It serves as the northernmost access to the resort community of Surf Pines, and provides motor vehicle beach access. The "Fort to Sea Trail", which follows the route used by the Lewis and Clark Expedition when hiking from Fort Clatsop to the Pacific Ocean, ends at the beach access.
Written Jan 26, 2012
About an hour east of Portland is a natural parkwith the spectaccular Multnomah Falls. It is 1.2 miles to the top and only the lowest portion has guard rails or any kind of safety features. It is also at a very steep incline, made all the harder if you have children because you might have to carry them. Only the physically fit should climb to the top, but once there, you have a wonderful panorama of the Columbia River Valley. The river that flows over the rim is pure and sweet after the long climb.
Written Jul 26, 2011
Oregon State Parks include a diverse group of parks. Sites range from historical buildings to small wayside points of interest to undeveloped lots inside the city of Portland to parks that have been leased to cities and fairly large wilderness spots with significant tourist appeal and value in being preserved.
Some of the state parks are entrance fee based parks. Naturally those are the best parks in the Oregon State Parks system. Entrance fees are fairly reasonable (was $3 for a standard automobile, but have been increased to $5 in 2010. Current plans are for more frequent fee increases with less jumps in price.), but an even better bargain, if you will be visiting multiple state parks that are fee parks, is to purchase an annual pass. This gives you an unlimited number of entries to the day use area of all fee state parks. (Overnight camping is still an extra fee.)
Most fee state parks have a toll booth and staff member on hand during busy days and peak periods during the summer. Most parks switch to self-service machines (see photo 1 of such a machine at the Columbia River Highway State Park) for low traffic periods. Simply follow the instructions on the stand to pay the fee and put the receipt in your car to show that you paid.
In the past, a short form had to be filled out to get an annual pass, and the annual pass could only be applied to one vehicle. In 2010, they have changed the system a little bit, and it is now possible to move the annual pass from one vehicle to another. I've never seen a self-service fee machine, or even a staffed pay booth, sell the annual passes. State parks such as Champoeg or Silver Falls or Stubb Stewart or Fort Clatsop that are busy enough to have a regularly staffed ranger office and/or state park store are the type of places you need to go to obtain an annual pass. Willamette Mission and others don't receive enough tourists to justify having a retail store and extensive visitor relations staff, so those types of parks do not offer the types of services you need to get the whole package that comes with the annual pass.
A book is also available in these state parks with retail stores that lists all of the state parks, the facilities available in each, and a summary of what makes each place special. Generally this is given to anyone who purchases an annual pass.
Many of the signs leading to state parks from roads are good, but sometimes they only feature the state parks emblem and an arrow pointing in the direction you need to go to get to the park. Therefore, it is helpful to recognize the state parks emblem, so see photo 3 so that you will recognize these types of road signs when you come across them.
The Oregon State Parks web site given below is also an excellent source of information on each state park. The current system, both in the guide and the web site, breaks the state into regions to search so that you are able to break down your search for a park based on the region of the state you will be visiting.
Many of the larger state parks offer overnight camping facilities of some sort or another - some of these include both tent sites and Recreational Vehicle sites with full hookup. All of the parks that I know of that have RV sites also have a dump station for the RV. A few of the larger parks also offer yurts and cabins. See my Champoeg State Park Camping Facilities Tip for some typical examples of cabins, yurts, and camping areas. Each park is a little different in how it is set up and the era in which its facilities were built, so it is best to check on the specifics of each location. You will find maps of the camping sites for a number of the parks on the park web site.
Most of the Oregon State Parks are in the VirtualTourist database as locations, so it may be helpful to see what VirtualTourist members have written about the parks.
A Special Note About the Coastal Parks:
There are some 40 state parks along the Oregon Coast, and there is a public beaches law that makes beaches state public land as well. There are a huge variety of parks all along the coast, each with its own unique beauty. Therefore, it is quite difficult to give good suggestions on these. If the place didn't have some unique beauty or other feature to make it special, it wouldn't have been incorporated into the state parks system. So, for those who want specific advice on which of the state parks along the coast are the best, it is very difficult to offer advice, as all of them are good in some way or another.
However, I have created an Oregon State Parks on the Coast tip to demonstrate a few of the parks and show the huge variance of what is available in the various parks along the Oregon Coast.
Some Special Parks
If you are traveling through the Willamette Valley, don't miss Silver Falls State Park. It is Oregon's largest state park, the most popular state park (and therefore crowded on peak weekends), and it is a real treasure if you like natural areas.
There are several state parks running through the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area (an area running east from Portland between Troutdale and The Dalles). This includes efforts to convert parts of the historic Columbia River Highway to a linear park, which are scattered between several cities that are located in the VirtualTourist database:
+ Cascades Locks Section westward to a tunnel under Interstate 84, which then connects to the Bonneville section of the trail.
+ Hood River section going eastward to the Mosier section of the trail. Towards the Mosier end of the trail is the site of the once-famous "Twin Tunnels".
Oregon State Parks I have on VT: (other than the ones mentioned above)
Willamette Mission State Park and Champoeg State Park both have some historical significance, but there isn't too much in either to attract a huge number of tourists from a long distance away. Both are Willamette Valley parks. They are nice parks, don't get me wrong. They just don't have that much to offer most tourists who are looking for something special, though Champoeg does have some special history programs and several small museums that are of interest to some history hunters, and is significant for it being the start of Oregon statehood. Champoeg also has a staffed ranger station and state parks store, and as it is reasonably close to Interstate 5 (not right next to the highway, but close) it may be a good place to get state parks information or an annual pass if you are traveling on that highway.
Tryon Creek State Park is not in the VT database, but it is located in the far southwest part of Portland. It has a nice dense forest, but is really more of local recreational interest. They do have a staffed ranger desk that is open on most days, so this may be a good place to get additional state park information if your trip starts in Portland.
Mary S. Young state park falls into the same category as Tryon Creek, and most of the management of it is now done by a local city.
Erratic Rock State Park is one of the smallest state parks and doesn't have too much in it, but there is a nice view of the surrounding scenery, plus a large rock left behind by a glacier.
A Few Examples of Oregon Coast State Parks that I have here on VirtualTourist (so that you can see the variety):
Updated Apr 7, 2011
Address: scattered throughout entire state, many on coast
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