refrigerators, closets, and all of the other comforts of modern living go willingly out into the damp cold to sojourn in mud, wind, and 14 hours of darkness every night? Confession time: I have absolutely no idea. I just know that the holidays are over, spring will be here any day (I'm just sure of it), and I have a need to get out there. Perhaps you do, too.
One of the best camping destinations this time of year is the Oregon coast. Snow and ice are rare, great campsites are available on the weekends (try THAT in the summertime), and the weather can be peaceful and mild. Tent campers should watch forecasts for lingering winter storms, as high winds can flatten most tents in a miserable moment. If the weather looks dubious, check out the yurts and cabins offered in many state parks.
But I digress. There are many excellent campgrounds along the Oregon Coast, and a good number of them are open year-round. Here we will share some of our favorites, going from north to south, followed by a few hints for cool-weather campers.
|Military installation near
Fort Stevens State Park
Fort Stevens State Park near Astoria offers a wide variety of camping options, including yurts and deluxe cabins (bonus: the cabin rate is discounted until April 30) plus miles of bike trails, three lakes, a shipwreck, and historic military installations. Full and electric RV sites. Several sites are accessible.
Nehalem Bay State Park is a pretty campground set at the base of a four-mile spit. Amenities include yurts, a bike path, a boat ramp, a horse camp, and even an air strip. Electric/water RV sites. Some accessible sites.
Barview Jetty Campground north of Tillamook has a variety of campsites, easy beach access, jetty fishing, and excellent wave watching as five rivers' worth of water races between the jetty's jaws into the ocean. Full RV hookups and some accessible sites.
Beverly Beach State Park between Lincoln City and Newport is a sheltered spot with yurts and easy access to the beach. This is a good area to look for fossilized shells. RV hookups and some accessible sites.
|Siltcoos River near the
Lagoon Campground, south of Florence, is set alongside a peaceful oxbow (not a lagoon). It offers nature trails, fishing, and ORV access. RV-friendly but no hookups; some sites and the Lagoon Trail are accessible.
Sunset Bay State Park just south of Coos Bay has yurts, a pretty little beach, a network of scenic trails, and a historic garden. RV hookups; some accessible sites.
Cape Blanco State Park offers cabins, a horse camp, and a beautiful lighthouse. Electric/water hookups, some accessible sites. There are two beaches, one on either side of the cape, and, occasionally, sheep on the beach. Yes, sheep on the beach. You don't see that every day.
If You Go
Half the battle is staying dry. Always bring rain gear to the coast, no matter the time of year. Take large trash bags; they are perfect for hauling wet equipment back home. If your tent is small, tuck the foot of your sleeping bag into a trash bag. If your feet contact the tent wall, your sleeping bag won't get wet.
|The author bundled up on a cold winter's evening
Tent camping is more pleasant with the double sleeping bag trick: use two bags, one inside the other. If you find you don't need the extra warmth, slip out of the inner bag and sleep on top of it-extra padding! You can even crawl beneath the inner bag for three layers on top.
Three Questionable Promises
1. "Open all year." Always call ahead; that dreaded "Season" may have arrived. Have a plan B, just in case.
2. "Heated," as in yurts and cabins. This is a relative term during the winter. Some are warmer than others, so bring your warm clothes.
3. "Hot showers." This is the cruellest lie of all. Some do actually get hot, but many are about three degrees above freezing. I have nearly burst into tears trying to wash my hair in these. If you plan to spend time in civilization, take my advice and pack a nice hat. Really, you look fine.
So if spring fever strikes and you are ready to leave that comfortable couch behind, we'll see you on the coast!
|The beach near Beverly Beach State Park