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Category: Oregon

Highway 101 Washington Coast Road Trip Itinerary Day 4: Forks to Seattle

This is the last day on Highway 101, and it is mostly along the Olympic Peninsula before heading inland to Seattle. There are so many fantastic things you could do…

This is the last day on Highway 101, and it is mostly along the Olympic Peninsula before heading inland to Seattle. There are so many fantastic things you could do out on this portion of the drive, but you need multiple days to fit them all in. If you are trying to reach the Northwesternmost point, then you especially need to plan for a long day as it is about 3 hours out of the way round trip in addition to hiking. There are a lot of fun stops to see though and here are a few of my favorites. Also, note that if you are heading to Seattle, you can opt to take the ferry if you want instead of driving all the way down to Olympia and back up to complete Highway 101.

Details

  • Length: 140 Miles
  • Approximately 4 hours of driving and a ferry

Video

Here is a video with highlights of the entire trip before jumping into Day 4.

 

Rialto Beach

Before leaving Forks make sure to head out to Rialto Beach. If you are blessed to have a sunny day, which doesn’t often happen then get out there early to see the sun coming through the trees, it’s amazing. The beach is long and has lots of driftwood and rocks. You can also grab a coffee in town and head out to the beach to drink it like we did.

Twilight Movie Locations in Forks – Outfitters, City Hall, Swan House, Cullen House & Bella’s Truck

Twilight is the reason why Forks is on the map and depending on what you think of this story will determine how much you want to see the above things. You can get a map of all the spots for the visitors center, and it takes about 30 minutes to see it all.

John’s Beachcombers Museum

My favorite attraction in Forks is John’s Beachcomber’s Museum on the outskirts of town. As a labor of love from one man for over 40 years, this museum is his collection of things he has found washed up on the beach. It’s amazing and includes everything from a motorcycle to stuff that washed ashore from the Japanese Tsunami. Easily worth the $5 entry fee.

Cape Flattery – Northwesternmost Point

If you want to visit this point and see the lighthouse, then this is where you would do it. The drive out to the Cape is about an hour each way, and then there is a hike at the end. I really wanted to do it but wasn’t able to fit it in my day, let me know if you go in the comments.

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent is probably my favorite stop on this day of the drive. The huge mountain lake is stunning in beauty, and you will be driving along it for at least 15 minutes. There are multiple turn outs for hikes and view points, or you can just drive slow and take it all in.

Madison Falls

If you are looking to get out of the car, stretch and experience the national park, then be sure to stop at Madison Falls. This waterfall is .1 miles each way and it is wheelchair accessible. The waterfall itself is about 90 feet, and it is stunning.

New Day Eatery

I recommend stopping for lunch in Port Angles which has a lot of great options. I am a particular fan of New Day Eatery which has home made chips, smoothies, and great sandwiches. You can call in a to-go order or sit down in the decent sized restaurant.

Olympic Game Farm

The Olympic Game Farm is a relatively polarizing spot along this drive because it features a lot of animals in captivity. I for one enjoyed my time here though as it was very unique. You pay to drive into the park then you stay in your car and feed the animals who stick their heads into the car for food. The bears even wave as they are old show bears with each one being over 25 years old. There is a small trout aquarium here and a barn with set pieces from old Disney movies that were filmed with the animals back in the day.

Fat Smitty’s

This is a fun strange place to stop if you are hungry or if you just need a drink. They have a bunch of sculptures and statues outside and if you go inside the entire walls and ceiling are covered in dollar bills. They told me there was over 10,000 of them. It’s a crazy place for a quick stop or a burger.

From here you can continue down to Olympia and complete Highway 101, or you can take the ferry over to Seattle. I recommend the ferry as it is a long way around to go to Seattle the other way and the ferry is a lot of fun.

Ferry to Seattle

I recommend getting on the ferry at Bermington as this will take you right into downtown Seattle which is the most fun place to dock at. The ferry takes about an hour, and you drive your car onto it. Once on, you can walk around and take pictures or have a coffee. If it is clear, then you can even see Mt Rainier in the background which is amazing. As you approach Seattle head to the front of the boat so you can watch the city come into view.

Serious Pie

For dinner in the city, I would recommend heading to Serious Pie which is one of the most popular food places in the city. The pizza here is pricy but it is so good, and it has a lot of fun options like Clams, eggs, and potatoes to put on your pizza.

I would recommend exploring the city of Seattle for a few days as it has a lot to offer, but if you want to head on to the Canada border then I will be writing more about that one a later post.

Thanks for going on this 4 day road trip with me and be sure to let me know what I left off in the comments.

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Highway 101 Washington Coast Road Trip Itinerary Day 3: Astoria to Forks

Day three of the Highway 101 Oregon / Washington coast road trip will take you across the Washington border and up into Olympic National Park. The drive is not along…

Day three of the Highway 101 Oregon / Washington coast road trip will take you across the Washington border and up into Olympic National Park. The drive is not along the coast for very long though so I spent half of the day in and around Astoria exploring lots of the fun spots in the town before heading out. I would recommend you do the same as there are not as many stops today as there were the last two days.

Details

  • Length: 200 miles
  • Approximately 4 hours driving time

Video

Here is a video with highlights of the entire trip before jumping into Day 3.

Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe

Located in the same building as Fort George Brewery, where we had dinner last night, the Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe is a large open restaurant with lots of fun breakfast pastries and even an area in the back for children to play. It was a great way to start the day with a relaxed meal.

Fort Clatsop National Park

Since we got into Astoria relatively late, we backtracked a little to Fort Clatsop National Park which is a replica of the Lewis and Clark shelter they built when they reached the end of their journey. It was a fun spot to see and while there is not a lot to do there it is a unique part of history and is worth the stop.

Peter Iredale Shipwreck in Fort Stevens State Park

After leaving Fort Clatsop be sure to head over to the wreck of the Peter Iredale which is out on a beach in Fort Stevens State Park. While there is not a lot left to see it still has a big piece of the front of the ship in the sand. It is very popular, so there will be a lot of other people there but it is unique to see a shipwreck like this.

Astoria Tower

On the way back through Astoria, head to the top of the hill to the Astoria Tower. This pillar overlooks the city below and provides an excellent 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape. You can even climb all the way to the top if you feel so inclined.

Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum in Astoria is one of the cities most popular attractions. It has a full boat inside and a lot of fun exhibits if you’re into history. It is also right across from Bowpicker which is the most popular spot for fish and chips along the Oregon Coast.

Bowpicker Fish and Chips

This small boat in the middle of a parking lot is one of the highest rated fish and chips spots in all of Oregon. It opens most days at 11 AM, and there is usually at least 15 people in line 20 minutes before they open. Expect to wait for at least 45 minutes, but it is a great restaurant with a unique batter that is unlike any other fish and chips I have had.

Astoria Film Museum and Goonies House

If you are a fan of the Goonies, then you need to head over to the Astoria Film Museum which is pretty much entirely dedicated to the famous movie. The museum is in the old Astoria Jail, and it is a lot of fun, even though it is small.

Be sure to ask where the Goonies house is, and even though you can go up to it, they will tell you how to see it from afar.

After leaving Astoria, there is not much to do on this next stretch, but the views are beautiful and different with lakes, bays and fields of grass.

Goose Island Oysters

If you are into oysters, then stop here and grab some to take with you. They take them right out of the water and they are super fresh. You can also get oyster shooters with cocktail sauce here if you want to eat them before you leave, but you can’t get any on the half shell.

Carriage Museum

In Raymond, WA sits the Carriage Museum which is actually a lot more awesome then you would anticipate. They have dozens of carriages all around the museum and they are all meticulously restored. It is a quick stop, but it is worth going to.

Kurt Cobain Park

Aberdeen is the home of one of rocks most famous personalities, Kurt Cobain. While there is not much in the city to do in relation to him, there is a small park in the outskirts of town that was named in his honor.

The park is really small and can be a place for some unique people but there is a large guitar dedicated to him that you can see.

Lake Quinault Lodge

Leaving the city you will soon be in Olympic National Park which is a place you need weeks to fully see. One of the best early stops though is Lake Quinault which has lots of hiking trails and a beautiful old historic lodge you can stay at. Right past the the lodge there is a hiking trail for the Oldest spruce tree? as well.

Ruby Beach

Before reaching the town of Forks there is a series of beaches named Beach 1, 2, etc. The last of these beaches is Ruby Beach though and it is where you need to stop. Walking down to the beach and seeing it is one of those moments you will not forget. The beach is strewn with driftwood and it is stunning in a foggy, gray and somber way. You are going to want to spend some time down here exploring so plan accordingly.

Puffin 101

After reaching the town of Forks, I recommend having dinner at Puffin 101, the best-reviewed spot in the town. I had the fish tacos and I was impressed with the taste for how far out of the way Forks is. They also have hundreds of pennies making up the top the tables, so it is a fun place for a meal.

Grab a room in Forks as I have a lot of recommendations for what to do in the city in the next day’s post and watch out for all the Twilight vampires.

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Highway 101 Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary Day 2: Newport to Astoria

The second day on the Oregon Coast starts much like the previous (read about that here) with a lot of stops at both the beginning and the end and lots…

The second day on the Oregon Coast starts much like the previous (read about that here) with a lot of stops at both the beginning and the end and lots of driving in the middle. This day is full of incredible natural beauty though, and it includes a stop at Tillamook Cheese for lunch which is hard to beat. Follow along with the below information.

Details

  • Length: 135 miles
  • Approx 3.5 hours of drive time

Video

Here is a video with highlights of the entire trip before jumping into Day 2.

The Coffee House

For breakfast in Newport, I would recommend the Coffee House. It is right on the harbor, and when you park, you will be greeted by the smell of fish and a plethora of seals. It is a fun spot, and the food is great. I recommend the hash, especially the veggie one if you are a vegetarian.

Across the street, you will get an excellent viewpoint of both the seals and the bridge in Newport so be sure to check that out before you head out.

Yaquina Lighthouse and Cobble Beach for Tide Pools

After leaving Newport, head to Yaquina Lighthouse and the state park that it is surrounded by. This park is stunningly beautiful and one of the best you will see along the coast of Oregon. The main places to see are the lighthouse itself and Cobble Beach below it.

Cobble Beach is a great spot for tide pools, and it is just below the lighthouse so you can get some cool photos of it from below as well.

Devils Punchbowl State Park

About 10 minutes north of Yaquina, Devils Punchbowl is a viewpoint that looks down on a massive sea cave. You can just spend 10 minutes looking down at it, or you can add another 45 minutes and walk down into the cave itself.

If you want to walk down to the cave check out this post, if not then just take some photos and move on.

Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint

Another quick stop and take photos spot, Rocky Creek is a quick viewpoint off Highway 101, but the views are fantastic. The area looks over a whale refuge, so depending on the season you may even see a whale there. The other direction looks over the Oregon coast and a collection of what appears to be volcanic rock.

Depoe Bay – World’s Smallest Harbor and Carmel Corn

If you are getting hungry and need a quick snack, stop in the town of Depoe Bay which has a cute downtown and which is the smallest harbor in the world.

There is a caramel corn shack there that has been making caramel corn for over 70 years; it is warm when you get it and fantastic road trip food.

Tillamook Cheese Factory

The next hour or so you can choose to stop in some of the small towns or just continue to Tillamook Cheese Factory. I decided just to drive there since it was mostly inland from here and there wasn’t a lot of places I wanted to stop at.

The cheese factory is great though with a cafe for lunch, tons of cheese samples and ice cream. You can take a self-guided tour of the facility itself and watch them make cheese from above while you are there too.

Twin Rocks State Park

This is another quick stop in the town of Rockaway Beach? They have two famous rocks out in the water called twin rocks. The state-owned area you can see them from is not very large so you can just grab a photo or head down to the beach to walk around if you can get parking.

Hug Point State Park

South of Cannon Beach, I recommend you stop at Hug Point State Park as it is much less busy but beautiful in its own right. When you get to the beach, if the tide is low enough, head right and around the rock outcropping, and you will see an amazing set of caves and a waterfall to go with it. I like this place, and even though it is usually busy, it is a great place to see with your own eyes.

Cannon Beach

Probably the most well-known place along the Oregon Coast, Cannon Beach is somewhere I am sure you will want to stop. Of course, you should do that as it is cool to see, but after driving the entire Oregon Coast, I would say it wasn’t even in my top three beaches. The town around it has a lot of fun hotels and food though so it is a great spot to spend a few nights.

Ecola State Park

North of Cannon Beach I highly recommend you stop at Ecola State Park. It will coast you $5 to get in, but it is worth it as it has a fantastic viewpoint for Cannon Beach and the beaches next to it from above. It is also a great spot to view the Tillamook Lighthouse as well.

Tillamook Lighthouse

Out on a rock in the middle of the ocean, you can’t actually visit this lighthouse. You can see it from Ecola State Park though which is another reason why I recommend you stop and take some time to explore the overlook area.

End of the Lewis and Clark Trail

The town of Seaside was the first famous coastal city in Oregon. They built a turnaround at the end of the main street for autos, and in the middle of that turnaround, you will see a statue that notes the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. People still argue over whether or not you can really call this the end of the trail, but regardless it is still cool to see.

Fort George Brewery

If you are looking for a place to stay you can consider Seaside as it is a beautiful town or head on to Astoria which is a great place to spend some time. If you head on to Astoria, then go over to Fort George Brewery which is a great spot for a meal in an old historic building. I got the sausage sampler, and I was not let down.

If you are in Astoria early then be sure to check out some more popular areas in the town, if not then you can head over to my next coastal day guide were we spend the better part of the morning in Astoria before heading out.

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Highway 101 Road Trip: Oregon & Washington Coast 4 Day Itinerary & Stops

The Oregon and Washington coastlines are a few of the most beautiful places in the entire United States to explore. Along the more than 500 miles of road sits waterfalls,…

The Oregon and Washington coastlines are a few of the most beautiful places in the entire United States to explore. Along the more than 500 miles of road sits waterfalls, beaches, history, vistas and food that will keep you coming back again and again for more. This guide is merely here to help you enjoy your time to the fullest with a four-day itinerary and a lot of recommendations for how to make the most of your time. I also wrote about driving the coast of California here if you want to make your journey longer. Enjoy your drive and let me know what I left off in the comments.

Details

  • Length: 500+ Miles
  • Recommend at least 4 days

24 Best Stops on the Oregon / Washington Coastlines

Here are my 24 favorite stops along the Oregon and Washington coastlines.

Natural Bridges

Located in the Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor, the Natural Bridges are large rocks in the ocean with arches in the base. 

Meyers Beach

Meyers Beach is the first part of the coast you will get to that will take your breath away. There are many large rocks in the water here with a North and South Beach. 

Wreck of the Mary Hume

This wreck in the northern part of Gold's Beach is not to be missed. With the green moss growing on it, it is a great spot for photography.

Prehistoric Gardens

I love fun roadside attractions and this is one of the best along this drive. The Prehistoric Gardens are like walking through the Jurrasic Period where dinosaurs walked the Earth.

Cape Blanco State Park

Whether you come for the coastal views of the lighthouse, Cape Blanco State Park is a little off the highway but it is not to be missed.

Oregon Dunes Overlook

The Oregon dunes are one of the largest in the USA. There are many places to check them out at, but I recommend the Oregon Dunes Overlook at the end. There are trails and viewpoints within walking distance of the parking lot.

Sea Lion Caves

Another popular roadside attraction, the Sea Lion Caves are one of the largest coastal caves in the USA. Accessed via an elevator you can take it down into the cave itself.

Thor's Well

One of my favorite stops on the entire drive, Thor's Well is a majestic blowhole right on the beach that sends gigantic plumes of water into the air. Don't get too close but be sure to check it out.

Yaquina Head Light

The second lighthouse on this drive, Yaquina Head also has amazing coastal views and history. Be sure to head down to the beach and check out the tide pools as well.

Devil's Punchbowl State Park

Devil's Punchbowl State Park is basically a large sea cave. You can park and view it from above or you can walk down to the beach and see it from below as well. I recommend both.

Tillamook Cheese Factory

No trip up the Oregon coast is complete without visiting the Tillamook Cheese Factory. This spot has tons of free cheese tastings, a museum, and a full restaurant. 

Hug Point State Park

Just south of Cannon Beach, Hug Point State Park is a less trafficked and beautiful beach with a hidden sea cave and waterfall.

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is the Oregon coast's most popular attraction. A visit to the famous Haystack Rock is a must on your road trip.

Fort Clatsop

This national park is located to be near the end point of the Lewis and Clark trail and it features a full replica of Fort Clatsop, the fort they built at the end of their journey.

The Wreck of the Peter Iredale

At over a century old, The Wreck of the Peter Iredale is located inside a state park on the tip of Oregon. The remains are situated on the beach and you can walk out and explore them during low tide.

Astoria Film Museum - Goonies

In Astoria, explore Goonies history at the Astoria Film Museum. This museum is located in the Astoria Jail and even though it is small, it has a lot of charm.

Astoria Tower

At the top of the hill in the middle of Astoria, there is a large tower that you can pay to climb. From the top of the tower you have an amazing view of the coastline and the city below you.

Kurt Cobain Park

Crossing over into Washington and driving for a while will take you to Aberdeen which was the home of Kurt Cobain. There is not much here to see related to him but this small park.

Lake Quinault Lodge

Lake Quinault is a beautiful body of water right off the highway. Lake Quinault Lodge is the famous and historic hotel that sits right on the water. Even if you are not staying here you should still go check it out.

Ruby Beach

In the heart of Olympic National Park, Ruby Beach is one of my favorite stops. The beach is littered with driftwood and it is majestic to see as the fog rolls in.

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach on the outskirts of Forks, WA is an amazing spot to catch a sunrise or sunset. It is never very crowded so you can enjoy a quiet morning at a beautiful place.

John's Beachcombing Museum

John's Beachcombing Museum is a labor of love from one man who has spent the last 35 year collecting the things that wash up on the beach. You will be amazed by what you see here.

Marymere Falls

On a little bit off the highway, this short .25 mile trail takes you to a beautiful 40 foot waterfall.

Olympic Game Farm

Olympic Game Farm is a drive through animal preserve which rehabilitates and provides a retirement home for old circus animals. It is home to the popular waving bears.

Four Day Road Trip Guide

Here is my recommended itinerary for each day on this drive.

Day 1 - Brookings, OR to Newport, OR

Day 2 - Newport, OR to Astoria, OR

Day 3 - Astoria, OR to Forks, WA

Day 4 - Forks, WA to Seattle, WA

Video

Here is a video I made of the 4 days I spent driving up the coast.

 

Hotel Recommendations

There are lots of great places to stay on the road trip, but here are a few of my recommendations.

Brookings

Gold Beach

Coos Bay

Florence

Newport

Tillamook

Cannon Beach

Astoria

Lake Quinault

Forks

Seattle

  • Too many great spots to recommend in Seattle, pick your favorite from this list

 

What would you recommend? Be sure to leave it in the comments.

 

 

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Highway 101 Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary Day 1: Brookings to Newport

This is Day 1 on my four day trip along the Oregon coast all the way to Seattle. This day is full of a ton of stops, so be sure…

This is Day 1 on my four day trip along the Oregon coast all the way to Seattle. This day is full of a ton of stops, so be sure to leave early to make it to most of them. The beginning of the drive takes you through Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor as well which is one of my favorite stretches on the entire Oregon coast, and you are going to want to pull off at the viewpoints for sure. Here is all the information so you can take this drive and see the best spots.

Details

  • Length: 204 miles
  • Approx 4.5 hours of drive time

This is a very ambitious itinerary, while it is possible to do in a day be sure to cut things out if you have something specific you want to see.

Video

Here is a video with highlights of the entire trip before jumping into Day 1.

Dee-Ann’s Tea Room

In Brookings there are only a couple spots for breakfast; however, my favorite is Dee-Ann’s Tea Room which has been there for decades. This place is filled to the brim with over 1,400 teapots all around the walls and ceiling. It is a fun and strange addition to a great diner with excellent home made biscuits.

Harris Beach State Park

A beautiful beach park with camping and RV hook ups, it is also a great spot for a short hike or to walk down to the sand. If you only want to stop for a minute, then head to the overlook as it provides a fantastic spot to see the coastline from.

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

The next 12 miles are some of the best on the entire Oregon Coast in my opinion. The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor has a series of 12 pull outs, and you can use this map to see where they are all at.

Here are my favorites:

Thomas Creek Bridge

There is a short and steep trail down to the beach from here, or you can just walk from the parking area to see the bridge up close. This short walk is all I did as the trail looked like it would take a little while.

Natural Bridges

This is that spot you have seen in everyone’s Oregon Coast Instagram photos. Unfortunately, it was incredibly foggy when I went, so the above photo is the best picture I got, but when it is clear this is a fantastic view.

Arch Rock

As one of the last viewpoints in an already incredible stretch of land, of course, Arch Rock is excellent as well. The big rock about 100 feet out in the water reminds me of the rock you see in Pfeiffer Beach Big Sur. It is beautiful, and there is an excellent short lookout that you can walk to and see it from.

Meyers Beach 

14 miles South of Gold Beach, there is a stunning stretch of coast known as Meyers Beach. Both the North and the South part of the beach are equally impressive, and both of them have large turnouts so you can park and take some photos. Here is what each looks like.

Meyers Beach South

Meyers Beach North

Cape Sebastian Viewpoint

After passing Meyers Beach, you will be heading up a hill and at the top, there is a pullout for Cape Sebastian Viewpoint. This is a great spot to look down on Meyers Beach from. The high vantage point lets you see the massive rocks that are sticking out of the sand.

Wreck of Mary Hume

While driving through Golds Beach, you will want to take a left on Harbor Way and pull into the parking lot to see the Wreck of the Mary Hume (just before going over the bridge). This old wreck sits out in the water and has been decomposing for decades. It is fun to photograph, especially with Patterson Bridge in the background.

Rogue Jet Boats

One of the most popular attractions in Golds Beach is to take the Rogue Jet Boats on the Rogue River. I haven’t done it myself, but I have heard it is a fun time for the whole family. The tours take off from near the wreck.

Patterson Bridge

On the way out of Golds Beach you will pass the first of many amazing old bridges you will see in Oregon. You can get great shots of this bridge from the above wreck before heading over.

Prehistoric Gardens

As you know, I love weird roadside stops, and Prehistoric Dinos is one of the best on this stretch of the coast. This parcel of land has dozens of dinosaurs that have been created and placed in a way that makes you feel like you are wandering through the forest and stumbling upon them. It is a little pricey at $14 a person, but it is an excellent way to stretch your legs on a quick stop.

Redfish

If you are starting to get hungry, then Redfish in Port Orford is a great place to pull off for lunch. This upscale restaurant has a beautiful patio that overlooks Battle Rock County Park. They also have a large menu with fish tacos, burgers and other things for you to enjoy.

Battle Rock County Park

Named for the historic battle that took place here between the settlers and the Native Americans. The beach has a large rock that connects to the sand and that you can climb to the top of to get a view of the coast.

Cape Blanco State Park

Cape Blanco State Park is one of the best places to see a lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. The lighthouse itself is located about 6 miles off Highway 101, but it is a beautiful drive that ends on a fantastic coastal viewpoint. You can tour the lighthouse but even if you don’t it is still worth going out there to see it and the coastal views.

If you are a history buff then on the way back, make a stop at the Hughes House if it is open. This old Victorian home from the late 1800’s is a fun place to get a feel for the history of the area.

Face Rock Viewpoint

About 25 miles North, right before the town of Bandon, be sure to set your GPS for Face Rock Viewpoint. This is a quick stop, but it is another great coastal view of a set of large rocks. One of the rocks does look a lot like a face coming out of the water (above).

Face Rock Creamery

Before exiting the town of Bandon, make a stop at Face Rock Creamery, which was named after the rock you just saw. This cheese and ice cream shop is a tourist favorite, and it is easy to see why. There are dozens of cheeses to try here, and the ice cream is top notch. I recommend ordering a kids size as they always fill it up, and it was more than I could even eat.

Coquille River Lighthouse

Coos Bay History Museum

Coos Bay is a large town that an entire guide could be dedicated too, and it is a great place to stop if you have more time on your Oregon road trip then I did. This area is a gateway to the dunes that cover the next 40 miles. They also have an excellent maritime history museum with a large boat right outside. If you are into history, then it is a great stop.

Conde McCullough Memorial Bridge

The Conde McCullough Memorial Bridge on the outskirts of Coos Bay is one of the most impressive of the old historic bridges you will see. It is long and has impressive craftsmanship. I pulled off when I crossed the road and drove around to find a good viewpoint.

Oregon Dunes Overlook

For the next 40 or so miles, you will be driving on and off along a collection of dunes. These are fun to explore if you have some time to rent a vehicle in Coos Bay, but if you don’t then make sure to stop at the Oregon Dunes Overlook. This is a great spot where you can walk up to an overlook or actually get out on the dunes for some photography. There are a couple of nice hiking trails that take you to a remote set of dunes from here.

Sea Lion Caves

One of the most popular tourist attractions on this drive, you will see the signs for it for miles. The Sea Lion Caves are cool but not as amazing as I was hoping they would be. You can pay your fee and walk to a sea lion overlook which lets you look down on these gentle giants playing in the water far below. After that, you can head over to the elevator and take it down into the cave itself. There were no sea lions in the cave when we went, but it was still fun to see the largest sea cave in America (at least that is what they told me).

Heceta Head Lighthouse

This lighthouse can be seen from the base of the Sea Lion Cave, or you can hop off the road once you cross the bridge and wrap around to the beach below it. This place is fantastic for photography, and it is the spot you will be starting your hike to Heceta Head Lighthouse from.

Cape Creek Bridge

While down at the beach below Heceta Head Lighthouse be sure to turn around and marvel at the Cape Creek Bridge which is stunning as well. I spent the better part of a sunset here once, and it provided amazing photo ops.

Thor’s Well

Thor’s Well was one of the main reasons why I wanted to make this drive along the Oregon coast. I had heard of the amazing natural hole that can get water shooting dozens of feet into the air. There is a parking pullout above it, and from there you can walk down to the well. Be sure not to get too close though as I saw the water got about 15 feet in the air and you would not want to get stuck in the well as it would certainly lead to death.

Cooks Chasm

Right next to Thor’s Well is Cook’s Chasm which is impressive in its own right. This large canyon that splits the coast has booming waves that crash against it. The sound they make reminded me of the sound of a kick drum that you can feel in your chest.

Devils Churn

The last stop of the day for us, the Devil’s Churn is about 3 minutes down the road from the last two spots. There is an overlook here, and it looks a lot like Cooks Chasm. There was a trail that took you closer, and I wish I had been able to take it but I was running out of light, so I just looked at it from above.

Rogue Ale House

When you finally reach Newport, which is where I recommend stopping for the night, then head over to Rogue Ale House which is open late. They have a lot of great libations and a selection of excellent pizzas and sandwiches you can partake in as well.

So there you have it, my recommendations for the first day on the Oregon coast, head over to this post for the next day or this post for the previous.

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Watchman Lookout in Crater Lake National Park: Best Short Trail in the Park

If you are driving through Crater Lake and have limited time, the best bang for your buck is to hit the Watchman Lookout Trail. This 1.5-mile roundtrip hike has a…

If you are driving through Crater Lake and have limited time, the best bang for your buck is to hit the Watchman Lookout Trail. This 1.5-mile roundtrip hike has a good amount of uphill but ends at one of the best lookouts in the entire park. Here is all the information so you can do it yourself.

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Details

  • 1.6 miles
  • 420 feet of elevation
  • $15 to enter the park
  • Location: Watchman Overlook Parking Area

Getting There

At about 4 miles north of the south entrance to the park, the Watchman overlook is well marked with a parking lot and parking along the road. If you don’t have time to do the trail, the lookout here attached to the lot is the best viewpoint for Wizard Island.

The Trail

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After parking in the lot, you can see the trail off to your right paralleling the road and climbing the mountain.

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The trail you will be taking up the mountain is dirt and it is relatively steep, but the switchbacks help make it easier.

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The trail is dusty as you start heading up but about a quarter of a mile in you will reach the spur that splits off the Rim Trail from the Watchman Trail. Stay to the left here.

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The trail is nice as it gets more shaded with trees as you continue to climb switchbacks.

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There are opportunities at each bend to see views of the lake or the road you were driving to get here.

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At about .8 of a mile, you will see the fire lookout above you and a set of rock stairs.

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These take you up to the lookout and provide the best view I have seen of Crater Lake.

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Standing 400 feet above the road gives you a much more unique perspective of this beautiful place. If you have a wide angle lens, you might even be able to capture the entire thing in one shot.

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There is always a decent amount of people up here but just take your time and enjoy it as you don’t get views like this every day.

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When you are done, head back the way you came on a nice downhill trail.

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Hopefully, you have as much fun on this trail as I did and be sure to let me know what you thought in the comments.

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