Head out of Portland as early as you can. Take either Highway 84 (which is faster but equally beautiful) or the Scenic Columbia Gorge Highway 30. Both will swing you by multiple waterfalls. If it’s not too crowded, stop at Multnomah Falls to at least peak at the most famous and most photographed waterfall in the Pacific Northwest. If you are feeling ambitious, hike to the top for a different view.
Continue your journey with a stop in Hood River. Once you have explored Hood River, continue on Highway 35. Head south and find a campsite at Trillium Lake, Frog Lake, or Clear Lake. On a clear day, a visit to Timberline Lodge always impresses with the view. If you are energetic, take a high alpine jaunt along the Timberline Trail to the Zig Zag Canyon overlook.
Complete your circumnavigation of Mt Hood and drive through Sandy on US 26. To get to Silver Falls take Highway 211 through Estacada and Molalla. Milo McIver State Park is right along the river and makes a good stop if you are there in the late afternoon and evening and don’t want to push on to Silver Falls. Otherwise, head south via Highway 213 to Silver Falls State Park. You will want reservations for your time here. There are many waterfalls and hikes and you could easily spend 2 days exploring this lovely spot.
Once you have had your fill of the waterfalls, take Highway 22 to Highway 18 to the coast. Go south on 101 to Beverly Beach State Park. Explore Newport or just to relax at the beach. Don’t miss the Yaquina Lighthouse and Devils Punch Bowl which are both nearby. When you are ready to head north, a sweet spot to aim for is Cape Lookout. Along the way, stop at Cascade Head and Cape Kiwanda to stretch your legs and gaze at the Pacific from a beautiful headland trail. There is also lots to explore in the Three Capes scenic area. You could even rent a small boat and try your hand at crabbing in Netarts.
Then don’t miss Oceanside Beach with the tunnel to a truly magical beach sometimes covered with agates and peppered with sea stacks. Rosanna’s has been around for decades and serves a great meal. While you are on the Three Capes Loop - Visit Cape Mere’s Lighthouse and the Octopus Tree. You can make a stop in Tillamook at Blue Heron Cheese Company or the Tillamook Factory before returning to Portland.
This blog was written by Chris Beard, owner of Tilly Jane and Mr Mike, and GoCamp's resident concierge.
(Side note: This trip can be done in 5-6 nights, though several spots warrant 2 nights - such as the lakes near Mt Hood, and you could spend a whole week at the coast. How long you spend in each spot depends on how much you want to hike and explore. The beauty of camper vans is that set up is easy so you can maximize your exploring time.)