Pacific Coast Highway: Camping in Oregon and California

If you saw my last post, you know I have a serious love affair with Portland. Since Portland was so wonderful to us we actually cut down a day of our camping in Oregon to explore more in the city. Even with the necessary re-routing, I decided we couldn’t miss Willamette National Forest and Harris Beach State Park!

There was one hike that really stood out when researching Oregon – The Tamolitch Blue Pool located in Willamette National Forest. If you check online you will be inundated with photos of the most blue water you’ve ever seen. What I wasn’t expecting here was one of the best campgrounds of the trip. We arrived a little worried that we hadn’t made a reservation, but happily found the campground was hardly occupied. Even better, we had our pick of sites right on the river to choose from!

The hike to the blue pool was truly incredible. It is SO blue in person! I had read online that the hike itself was really boring until you got to the pool, but that was not the case! The colorful fall leaves made the hike especially stunning. I’m so glad we did this hike early! We barely passed anyone on our hike up to the pool, but even though the season was over we passed group after group on the way back down.

Our next stop was the start of our journey down the west coast! Harris Beach State Park is right on the ocean and a great home-base for exploring the Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor. There are viewpoints and quick hikes scattered all along this stretch of the coast. We had a perfect sunny day to explore Arch Rock, Natural Bridges, and Secret Beach. The hike to Secret Beach is the most difficult (and slippery!), but hanging out on the beach and listening to the waves is so peaceful. We got to see a couple dogs running around the rocks (much more gracefully than I could ever hope to), but apart from that we pretty much had the beach to ourselves!

Back at Harris Beach, we decided to camp for two nights. This campground was pretty much the opposite of our experience at Willamette. The campground is pretty large and was very close to being full when we arrived, despite the season being over. Since it’s right off the highway it is probably the least “in nature” we’ve felt at any campground. We did meet a skunk and I discovered someone making whipped cream in the restroom one morning….As I said before, campsites can get a little strange.

The sunset at Harris Beach. I could just end it right there, right? Do I really need to explain? Both nights I thought cloudy days would get in the way of a stellar sunset, but thankfully I was wrong. I’ve always gone to the Gulf growing up, and while the water is much nicer to get in, the Pacific is so much more interesting!

Before heading to San Francisco we obviously had to stop and camp out in the California Redwoods! It was super rainy, cloudy, and cold here, so we mostly stuck to the scenic drives. Nothing has made me feel like I drive a clown car more than seeing it in a forest of redwood trees.

I do want to say that while I was planning this stretch of the trip there was absolutely nothing I found more helpful than Carrie Outdoors’ blog post about this area. Please check it out for awesome tips if you’re planning a trip the area!

Next up: San Francisco!

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