The Oregon Coast is one of the best RV and camping routes. Not as windy as some other coastal scenic drives (I’m looking at you, California), the Oregon Coast delivers when it comes to impressively grand rock formations, an abundance of wildlife, and the moody ambiance of the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, a coastal trip can turn into a sprint to see and do everything. Don’t fret! We’re here to help. Here are four amazing Oregon Coast Spots to visit in 4 days while driving Highway 101.
Day 1, Spot 1: Gold Beach, Oregon
We’re starting our journey along the Southern Oregon Coast in the town of Gold Beach, Oregon. Like the forested redwood destinations of Northern California, Oregon’s southern coast boasts a relatively mild, Mediterranean climate, making it a beloved fair-weathered destination. As you make your way up the Oregon coast, you’ll notice the change in climate as the conditions will turn moodier.
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor | Oregon Coast Spots
Gold Beach is just a fifteen-minute drive from the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Travelers can see some of Oregon’s most iconic lookouts out to the Pacific, such as Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint, Arch Rock, Natural Bridges, Lone Ranch Beach, and more.
Open year-round, Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is twelve miles-long with ample turnoffs that include picnic areas, viewpoints, and trailheads that connect to an 18-mile segment of the Oregon Coast Trail. A little tidbit about the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor; it is a national park that never was. According to the park’s website:
“In the early 1940s, Boardman approached U. S. Department of the Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes with a proposal for an extensive National Park area along the Curry County coastline. Though federal officials toured the region, the coastal National Park idea did not take hold. This state park, the nugget of Boardman’s proposal, was named in tribute to the founding superintendent at the time of his retirement.”
Where to Stay: Oceanside RV Park in Gold Beach
Oceanside RV Park sits right on the corner where the Rogue River meets the sea, giving guests not only an immersive oceanside experience but easy access to fishing, boating, kayaking, and other water activities. As you can tell by its name, Oceanside RV Park caters mainly to RVers with 50 full hookup RV sites that include 30 and 50 amp options, river views, pull-throughs, and back-in options.
Fun fact about Gold Beach, Oregon, is that it was once called Ellensburg in the 1850s, but by the end of the century, the name was changed to Gold Beach after a beach near the mouth of the Rogue River where miners extracted gold. You know, where the Oceanside RV Park is situated. So, if fishing isn’t your thing, be sure to pack your pan and go searching for gold on Gold Beach!
Day 2, Spot 2: Coos Bay, Oregon
The next day, drive your way up the coast about an hour and a half to Oregon’s Bay Area. The most populous city along the Oregon Coast, Coos Bay, is where the Coos River flows into the Pacific. Inhabited by Natives for thousands of years before European settlers arrived, the area has an extensive history. Today, the town is one of the most popular Oregon Coast destinations with various activities for tourists to partake, from fishing and crabbing to visiting the historical museums in town. These are our favorite things to do in the Coos Bay area.
Cape Arago & Surrounding State Parks | Oregon Coast Spots
Located just around the corner from Oceanside RV Resort and Campground are a few of the area’s state parks:
Combined, they give visitors a glimpse of the Pacific Northwest coastal range in its rustic nature, untouched by humans, with lush evergreens, a rugged coastline, and protected wildlife.
Sunset Bay to Cape Arago Trail | Oregon Coast Spots
Spend the day hiking the Sunset Bay to Cape Arago trail! Starting in Sunset Bay, the 8.5-mile path takes you through the incredible gardens in Shores Acres State Park to Cape Arago, where you’ll get a close-up view of some lounging sea lions. The return trip takes you a different way back, where you’ll continue to see incredible coastal views.
One of the best things about this trail is the freedom to venture off the path to check out the gulches and inlets that line the way.
If hiking isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Another great way to experience the Oregon Coast near Coos Bay is by taking the Cape Arago Highway and making stops throughout the state parks. Here are some spots along the route that you should definitely experience.
Sunset Beach at Sunset Bay State Park | Oregon Coast Spots
In an area that boasts rugged rocky terrain, the sandy bay of Sunset Beach is a refreshingly peaceful spot to catch a sunset, play in the sand, or watch the tide come and go.
Cape Arago Lighthouse Viewpoint | Oregon Coast Spots
Further down the Cape Arago Highway is the Lighthouse Lookout or Cape Arago Lighthouse Viewpoint. According to LighthouseFriends.com,
“Long before white settlers arrived in 1853, the Coos Indians lived in villages near the bay that now bears their name. Just south of the entrance to Coos Bay and two-and-a-half miles north of Cape Arago (originally known as Cape Gregory) is a small, detached piece of land with sheer cliffs that the Coos Indians called Chief’s Island. The shape of the island has been aptly described as a bony left-hand fist, with an extended index finger pointing northward. It was near the tip of this finger-like extension that the first Cape Arago Lighthouse would be erected in 1866.”
“Knowing that many of their ancestors had lived and were buried there, the Coos Indians continued to have a strong connection to Chief’s Island and the nearby mainland, even after it had been reserved for nearly a century as a light station.”
After the lighthouse was deactivated in 2005, efforts to transfer the land back to the Confederated Tribes of the Coos increased. Eventually, in 2013, then Commander of the Coast Guard Sector North Bend signed over approximately 24 acres of land, including Chief’s Island, to the Confederated Tribes.
Simpson Reef Overlook at Shores Acres State Park | Oregon Coast Spots
This next pull-out area on the Cape Arago Highway is for you for animal lovers out there. At Simpson Reef Overlook at Shores Acres State Park, visitors can look out to Shell Island and the Simpson Reef, where they’ll catch glimpses of harbor seals, sea lions, and elephant seals.
Be sure to bring a big camera lens or your binoculars to the Simpson Reef Overlook to get a good look at the lounging wildlife.
Where to Stay: Oceanside RV Resort & Campground in Coos Bay
At Oceanside RV Resort & Campground, campers experience the sounds and smells of the Pacific Ocean from every tent and RV site or vacation rental. On-site, guests can enjoy surfing, crabbing, fishing, wildlife viewing, picnicking, and more on the pet-friendly beach. As previously mentioned, Coos Bay’s most beloved state parks, Sunset Bay, Shore Acres, and Cape Arago state parks, are conveniently just down the road.
Oceanside RV Resort campground offers a variety of campsite options:
- Seaside Shanties
- Premium Pull-Through RV Sites that fit vehicles up to 95 feet long
- Deluxe Pull-Through RV Sites that fit vehicles up to 80 feet long
- Premium Back-In RV Sites that fit vehicles up to 57 feet long with private beach access
- Standard Pull-Through and Back-In RV Sites
- Oceanfront Tent Sites
- Oceanview Tent Sites
- Standard Tent Sites
Day 3, Spot 3: Winchester Bay, Oregon
We know, another bay town. But there’s a reason these communities are some of the most beloved Oregon Coast spots to see and visit. Because bays are partially enclosed by land, they tend to have calmer waters than the larger bodies of water they connect to, like the ocean. They provide a haven for ships to dock and shelter from inclement weather. While you might not be a ship at sea, Winchester Bay makes for a terrific place to retreat and relax while driving along Highway 101.
Thor’s Well | Oregon Coast Spots
Located within the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is Thor’s Well, a collapsed sea cave that, at high tide, wells and spouts tidal swells. To reach Thor’s well, take the Captain Cook Trail off Highway 101. A paved path takes you to safe viewpoints of both Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn.
Coastal or seasonal weather, slippery algae, rugged and sharp terrain, and unpredictable waves mean that you should be alert about how far and close you should get to Thor’s Well. A photographer’s dream, it’s easy to feel lured into getting just a bit closer for that perfect shot. Accessible and stroller-friendly, sticking to the paved trail is the safest way to view these bursting attractions.
Newport’s Fishing Docks | Oregon Coast Spots
Home to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research base and chockfull of fishing enterprises, the identity of the Newport community is tide to the sea. See what we did there? Particularly for those unacquainted with maritime culture, walking through Newport’s town and fishing docks is a quick way to immerse oneself in one of the west coast’s largest fishing ports.
Grab a bite to eat at Ocean Bleu Seafood at Gino’s, located in Newport’s Historic Bayfront. Locally owned and operated since 1983, the fish served here is sustainably caught by those in the local fishing fleet. An added bonus to the delicious, fresh food is the charming decor and scenery.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area | Oregon Coast Spots
The Yaquina Head Outstanding Area extends one mile into the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon Coast. The windswept headland is home to another iconic Oregon lighthouse and a diverse ecosystem, including its famous tide pools on Cobble Stone Beach. The Interpretive Center at Yaquina Head is accessible for persons with a disability or otherwise limited physical mobility, as are observation decks and restrooms throughout the site.
Suppose you’re interested in a Yaquina Head Lighthouse Tour, Oregon’s tallest lighthouse. In that case, reservations are required and available during certain times due to weather and the pandemic.
The Cobble Beach tidepools at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area attract discoverers of all ages. The Bureau of Land Management updates their suggested low tide predictions on their website every couple of months, so plan accordingly. Conditions are slippery, so wear the proper footwear and tread lightly to avoid stepping on wildlife. You’ll be able to see orange sea stars, purple sea urchins, giant green anemones, and more.
According to the BLM, to make your tidepool experience safe and worthwhile:
- Go slowly; keep an eye on the surf and keep small children within arm’s reach.
- Walk on bare, dry rocks, avoid stepping on tidepool plants and animals.
- Stay out of the water.
- To avoid injuries to the animals, please OBSERVE them; DO NOT pick them up, poke them, or move them.
Another reason to visit Yaquina Head is to experience the cobblestones of Cobblestone Beach. The black polished basalt cobblestones may be challenging to walk on, but climbing down and walking to the water is worth it. As the waves push the stones back and forth, they crash and clatter amongst each other. It’s a sensory experience like no other.
Don’t think about snatching up one of these stones, however. Legend is that they bring bad luck to those who steal them from the protected nature site.
The Lookout at Cape Foulweather | Oregon Coast Spots
Let’s end our third day on a high note. More specifically, a way-up-high-in-the-sky note. Cape Foulweather sits 500 feet above the ocean and provides visitors a birds-eye view of the sea below, making it an excellent whale-watching or wildlife viewing spot.
When traveling through these Oregon Coast attractions, it’s handy to have your binoculars with you or in your car. You never know when a whale is in the distance! The Oregon Coast is unique in that you can whale watch year-round. With steep terrain and deep coves, whales can get close to the shore when feasting on krill.
Where to Stay: Winchester Bay RV Resort
Right on the Umpqua River and the heart of Winchester Bay, the Winchester Bay RV Resort is a destination in itself. With waterfront RV sites, a Marina Activity Center, cabin rentals, a sandy playground, dog-walk along the river, and much more, Winchester Bay RV Resort’s amenities and accommodations will spoil a camper traveling along the Oregon Coast.
Winchester Bay RV Resort offers guests two cabin rentals, waterfront RV sites, big-rig RV sites, and smaller RV sites, all with full hookups. The RV resort is within walking or biking distance of Winchester Bay’s stores, markets, and restaurants. In addition to its namesake, Winchester Bay RV Resort is an excellent jumping point to explore the many fishing communities of the Central Oregon Coast, such as Newport or Depoe Bay.
Day 4, Spot 4: Seaside, Oregon
Phew! You’ve made it to the fourth day of this jam-packed Oregon Coast excursion. How are you feeling? If you’re a bit tired from the constant go, go, go, then the resort town of Seaside is just what you need. Walk the Historic Seaside Promenade and take in the sights of surfers, kites in the sky, clam digging, and more. The 15-foot wide paved walkway built in 1920, the accessible path is just a mile-and-a-half long.
Haystack Rock and the Needles at Cannon Beach | Oregon Coast Spots
To the south of Seaside is Cannon Beach, where you’ll find the famous Haystack Rock landmark in addition to its neighboring sea stacks called the Needles. Depending on the tide, visitors can walk out to the sea stacks; however, be sure not to get caught out there when the tide rises!
According to Cannon Beach’s website, Haystack Rock’s “protected status requires that no creature or material be removed from within 300 yards of Haystack Rock and climbing above the barnacle line is strictly prohibited to avoid disturbing marine life and nesting birds.” So if you’re visiting during April, May, or June, you’ll see Tufted Puffins nesting!
Where to Stay: Bud’s RV Park and Campground
Located off Highway 101 and north of Seaside, Oregon, Bud’s RV Park and Campground is a great basecamp for your Northern Oregon Coast adventure. They offer 30 and 50 amp full hookup RV sites and primitive camping and tent sites. Attached is a grocery store where anglers can stock up on their supplies. So when setting out for that coastal adventure, be sure to stop by the store to grab a cup of coffee or some homemade sandwiches.
RVing & Driving Oregon Coast Highway 101
If you’re driving a big rig or RV on Highway 101, you might have some questions about its conditions. One of the best things about RVing on the Oregon Coast is that it can accommodate any size RV! So rest assured, if you take it nice and easy, you’ll be fine in whatever you’re hauling or towing. The majority of 101 is two-lane with an average 50 mph speed limit.
Oregon weather is notoriously unpredictable. When you combine that characteristic with the force of the ocean, you might find yourself in foggy or wet circumstances. Drive slow and pull off when necessary. Know that there are areas of Oregon’s 101 prone to slides during the winter or early spring. Before setting out, check road conditions for construction updates or closures.
In Conclusion | Oregon Coast Spots
Ask any experienced RVer or camper; Oregon’s coast is one of the best routes in the country to embark on! With an abundance to do and see, we suggest dedicating at least four days to travel and sight-see these four destinations. An incredible way to experience Oregon’s outdoors, camping along the Pacific coast is a memory you’ll carry for life.