Guide to Camping in Oregon
Jamie and Richie Staggs rented a Eurovan Camper for a six nights of camping in Oregon. They covered the beach, sand dunes, forest, hot springs, waterfalls, hikes, high desert, mountain lakes, and an iconic lodge in an 800 mile sprint around the state. Luckily for you, Jamie shares highlights, and great photos, from their trip below. Here’s a great itinerary for six nights in Oregon.
DAY ONE: Portland, Stumptown Coffee, Cannon Beach, Nehalem Bay State Park
We flew into PDX the evening before and stayed at an AirBnB. The next morning we headed to Stumptown Coffee Roasters, where the coffee was as good as I’d hoped it would be. From there we picked up our camper van, loaded up with groceries and headed to our first stop, Cannon Beach.
This was the first time I have ever seen the Pacific Ocean.
Cannon Beach was the first time I have ever seen the Pacific Ocean and our campground, Nehalem Bay State Park, blew my mind! I cannot emphasize enough how STUNNING this campground is. I had read lots of good reviews on it, but it even exceeded those. The sunset there was just breathtaking and I’d stay there a million times again. The campground was full but didn’t feel full. The bathrooms and grounds were clean, but the real gem is that beach. The combination of grasses and dunes and mountains in the background…. #15starsona5starscale.
DAY TWO: Depoe Bay, Seal Rock, Newport, Beachside State Park, Yachats
We headed down the coast and stopped at Depoe Bay, Seal Rock, and ultimately Newport, where we saw sea lions (which were the best things ever). Then we went to the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Devils Punchbowl.
Oh my wow. A must stop for sunset.
We camped at Beachside State Park, which was quiet, pretty, and had hookups. After setting up camp (which with a camper van is easy peasy), we went to Yachats (pronounced ya-hots). Oh my wow. So pretty; this is a must stop destination for sunset.
DAY THREE: ATVs in Winchester Bay, Susan Creek Campground
Day three brought the event Richie had been looking forward to the most: ATVs in the dunes. We picked Ridin Dirty ATVs in Winchester Bay and highly recommend them. You pick out your ATV. Then the sweetest lady ever hauls them to the dunes. She drops you off and picks you up when you are done. These dunes were way bigger than I thought they’d be! This was definitely a highlight of the trip and another must do if you are in the area!
A gem of a place …
After the ATV experience we stocked back up on groceries in Reedsport and headed east towards Umpqua National Forest. Our campground choice for that night was a gem of a place: Susan Creek. This gorgeous campground has a catch though. While there are a few sites you can access without a reservation, the prime spots must be reserved at least three days in advance. Reservation or no, we gave this place the best rating for showers! There is lots of hot water and each shower is in its own “room” so it isn’t the typical “stall shower” concept. No hookups, but you get a spa-like shower experience and a killer view out the back of your campsite.
DAY FOUR: Umpqua National Forest, Toketee Falls, Umpqua Hot Springs, Diamond Lake Viewpoint
We headed into the Umpqua National Forest and our first stop was Toketee Falls. It’s a short hike to the falls (after parking in a well-marked parking lot, just look for the gigantic pipe). The falls are gorgeous from the viewing platform. We also climbed to the bottom with the assistance of ropes. The bottom of the falls is equally pretty!
Next stop: the Umpqua Hot Springs. While en route it is not well marked, once you do find it, the parking lot is very well marked! We made a mistake and tried to make our environment “fit” the directions and we ended up on a nice, but long, hike down the North Umpqua Trail. After three miles in we turned around and hiked back. This threw off our schedule for the day, and gave me a blister, but Richie agreed to keep looking for the springs and we found them!
After leaving the hot springs, we stopped at the Diamond Lake Viewpoint and saw some gorgeous mountains and some super cute chipmunks. The North Entrance to Crater Lake was closed. We therefore weren’t able to see that iconic lake. We headed on to Bend to see my aunt and uncle.
DAY FIVE: Bend
We went to Tumalo Falls, then to Sisters for lunch, then we got to do a tour of Deschutes Brewery (maker of Richie’s favorite beer!), then had dinner at a food truck area in Bend. Bend is a gorgeous city!
Bend is gorgeous.
DAY SIX: Smith Rock State Park, Trillium Lake Campground, Timberline Lodge
After a delicious breakfast at Nancy P’s Bakery in Bend, we headed north to Smith Rock State Park. We hiked Misery Ridge Trail, four miles long and described as “very difficult.” We had the most gorgeous views during this hike and even saw a rattlesnake! Hikes are my favorite and this one did not disappoint. Like most things on our trip, I highly recommend this stop.
Highly recommend this stop.
Mount Hood was next on the list after hiking at Smith Rock. We found a great taco food truck in Madras that was delicious. Going through Warm Springs we saw wild horses, running as if they got the memo we would be driving by them at that time! Just north of Warm Springs the landscape changed a lot, going from plains to forest almost instantly. We had a reservation at Trillium Lake Campground, just open for the season. Our campsite was so pretty and the lake was gorgeous, but sadly it was cloudy, cold, and we could only see the very bottom of Mount Hood. However, we got to see several bald eagles at the lake, so that was really cool! After dinner we decided to go to iconic Timberline Lodge for some warmth.
DAY SEVEN: Back to Portland
After a cold night, we packed up to head to Portland and decided to stop back by Timberline Lodge. This visit was way different than the evening before. It was warm, sunny, and packed with snowboarders! We LOVED Oregon! It’s a state full of varied landscapes, ever-changing weather, and the nicest people.
Editor’s Note: And speaking of nice people, meet the Staggs. Jamie and Richie were traveling in Oregon with their daughter Brittany and her boyfriend Luke. They covered approximately 800 miles in a Eurovan Camper, staying at a different place every night. Back home the Staggs are the duo behind Jagg Photography. All of these great photos are theirs.