Our mini Oregon road trip wouldn't have been complete without telling you a little secret kept in the quaint, historic old town section of Florence (map). Not the sprawl part of town…I'm talking near the Marina/RV/Campground exists...free showers!!! Boo-yes stinky travelers!!! We had been camping at nearby Waxmyrtle, exploring the Dunes and other stops (here & here). Our campground didn't have showers so we were on the lookout. We stopped at a pay to do laundry/shower place in the newer part of town and a nice gentleman told us to search for the free showers near the port! He was right!
Old town Florence has lots more to offer (not just the showers) - cool restaurants, coffee, shops, river walk, and more. It's a great 1/2 day trip if you're close! A clean ending to a great Oregon Coast adventure!
~Paul, Amber, Mom ETC
Scenic viewpoints and mini-hikes litter the Oregon coast around the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. Short interconnected trails connect a lot of the good stuff - the Cape Cove Trail, the Trail of the Restless Waters, the Oregon Coast Trail, the St. Perpetua Trail, the Whispering Spruce Trail, and the one we checked out - the Captain Cook Trail. It's a .75 mile mostly paved trail down to the "Spouting Horn" - a geyser-like high tide wonder...we weren't there at high tide but it was still super cool and a quick stop. The campground and lighthouse nearby makes this a sweet place for a future stop…!
~Amber, Paul, Mom ETC
We got super lucky on our Oregon summer road-trip and stopped off at the Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint - or Neptune Beach as we call it. It's an awesome roadside beach on the Oregon Coast and has great sea life/tide pool viewing if you get there at the right time. Here's a quick photo tour to temp you into stopping by one day (get a tide app so you can get there at low tide like we did!).
~Paul, Amber, Mom ETC
Does the gloomy winter Pacific Northwest weather already have you planning for summer? A tradition for Captain Wifey and I is to drive the 3-4 hours from Seattle to the Washington coast and do a little backcountry camping near Rialto Beach.
The drive out there from Seattle takes you on a ferry ride (take the Edmonds ferry in the morning and Bainbridge on your return to beat the rush), through the town of Port Angeles where you need to stop and get your backcountry pass (more on this later), past lovely Lake Crescent (pictured above), right by the town of Forks (vampires anyone?), and finally to the Olympic National Park Rialto Beach parking lot.
Rialto Beach is gorgeous. If you're staying overnight you'll park in a different parking lot since you're leaving your car. The pass you picked up at the Ranger Station in Port Angeles will go both on your dash and with you on your pack. They give you a giant bear canister (to store scented things and food overnight), that goes with you too (and is a suggested $3 donation). Off you go!
Heading north, you'll hike a fairly short distance and reach Ellen Creek. Camping is allowed anywhere north of here, but we always keep walking past the Hole-in-the-Wall to find a secluded spot. The tides greatly affect the route and time you'll need to get places on the coast…make sure to get a tide-table book (or app, however, cell coverage can by spotty…some apps work offline, some don't) and plan accordingly.
Two-hours of hiking at high tide can become only 20 minutes at low tide! Sea-stacks block the way at higher tides forcing you to take the occasional steep jungle route (picture below!). At high tide, normally easy to walk on hard sand becomes deep gravel. The lower the tide the better.
One of the greatest things about backcountry camping, besides being only $11 per night, is you don't have to take the risk of camping next to some loud, rude dudes. You pick the spot. We like to find a bay or inlet that becomes hard to get to when the tide comes in. Look toward the tree-line for camping spots others have used (and fire-pits). The panorama below is a view from our elevated campsite. The sea-stacks in the distance to the left are from the town of La Push - far enough, but not too far.
Another perk is campfires on the beach. Little rain in the summer often causes the inland parks to initiate burn-bans although the coast is rarely affected.
Sometimes you have to get creative. We were truly roughing it, trying to chill our sake that we brought along…We decided to use the cool waters of the Pacific! It kinda worked.
Another benefit of hiking/exploring at low tide is the abundant sea life in tide pools. It's nature's aquarium out here.
Hopefully we've sold you on the breathtaking Washington coast. Let's review:
1. The tides make or break this trip, plan accordingly.
2. Edmonds ferry there, Bainbridge ferry back.
3. Pit stop in Port Angeles at the ranger station (it's at the beginning of the road leading to Hurricane Ridge) to get your passes - $11 a day.
4. Bring your own water (which is heavy), or, what we do - bring a fancy filter to purify before drinking (or boil)…iodine tablets are not enough out here.
5. Wear supportive hiking boots, not sandals…there's lots of rock.
6. Leave room on your pack for the giant bear canister.
7. Check the weather - windstorms bring high surf. Layer…it's cold, even in the summer.
8. Check here for more info from the National Parks!
~Paul & Amber ETC
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