As full-time RV’ers we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, some complete with pictures and all with GPS coordinates.
Oregon is … simply put … EYE CANDY. If you blow through Oregon fast, this is one state you’re really missing some phenomenal things. Spend some time here! You won’t regret it. The Oregon Coast is one of the most amazing drives in itself. Make sure you spend some time driving the coast if you can.
Some of the popular things in this state, I still have to highly recommend. Have you seen Thor’s Well, or hike around Crater Lake? The Columbia River Gorge with the Multnomah Falls looks so picture perfect, it’s almost fake! Cannon Beach and Mt. Hood National Forest are definitely the more popular things not to miss. But that’s not why you’re here! Lets get to the Off the Beaten Path stuff!
Here are our pick’s for the unique and different finds.
Sea Lion Cave – located 11 miles north of Florence on U.S. Highway 101 – The Sea Lion Caves along the Pacific coast in Oregon are a connected system of caverns where Steller’s sea lions (also known as northern sea lions) gather every spring and summer to breed and give birth to a new generation. If you arrive, and see no sea lions, it’s still a really cool place to see. At sea level, the ocean continually washes into the main chamber of the caves. The walls of the cavern are stained a rainbow of colors because of the lichens and algae that grow in the dark, wet space.
Painted Hills – An unusual partnering of a brutal high-desert climate mixed with the gentler lowland environment creates a setting for one of the most scenic landscapes in Oregon state. Turn north to Burnt Ranch Road from route 26 in Oregon, and it is impossible to miss them. This reminded us of South Dakota’s “Bad Lands” area.
Octopus Tree of Oregon – Tillamook – The Octopus Tree is believed to be around 300 years old. The tree itself extends from a central base that is nearly 50 feet around, and instead of shooting straight up with a central trunk, the body of the tree splits into a number of smaller trunks. The bizarre arbor has long been an attraction but the origins of its odd shape are up for debate.
100-year-old shipwreck you can walk up to at low tide. The Wreck of the Peter Iredale. The Peter Iredale was a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel that ran ashore October 25, 1906, on the Oregon coast en route to the Columbia River. It was abandoned on Clatsop Spit near Fort Stevens in Warrenton about four miles (6 km) south of the Columbia River channel. The wreckage is still visible. From Warrenton proper, take SW 9th Street West and turn north on NW Ridge Road. Turn left/west onto Peter Iredale Road, and follow it all the way to the beach, where there is a lot of parking about 200 yards from the wreck.
A volcanic fissure over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep – Simply called Crack in the Ground. There are 2 places in my travels I have found where I feel the most peace. Peace with everything and a calmness comes over me that it’s just hard to explain. Those two places are walking through a slot canyon, and next to a waterfall. Some people love the beach, I’m more of a waterfall girl. This crack in the Ground really is amazing to walk through. It’s like a slot canyon and really is something to see. It’s over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep. If you can’t walk the whole thing, at least step inside a few feet of it if you can. It is located in the Deschutes National Forest. Hikers can walk the length of the main crack and explore its tributaries.
If you’ve followed along, you know how much I love strange homes, and mystery castles with a story. Well … how about Airplane Home in the Woods? This man lives in a converted Boeing 727 parked out back. The aircraft’s owner, Bruce Campbell has been living in the airplane for six months each year since purchasing the plane in 1999 for $100,000. Equipped with water, electricity, and sewage plus 1,066 square-feet of interior space, Campbell’s airplane home is pretty plush for all its eccentricities. This is a private residence, on private property, so check out his website for a tour if you’re interested. Campbell is happy to offer tours of his airplane in the woods. Email: bruce@AirplaneHome.com
Elowah Falls Bridge – This reminds me of The Hobbit. Ha! I am sure you’ll feel the same way when you check it out. It’s on our list of places to see! So if you get there first, send me a picture or 5. Ha!
Pillars of Rome – In Malheur County you will find these awesome and unique rock formations. Driving on highway 95 South to Rome, then go west from Rome station the south for a little over a mile and you can’t miss this. Millions of years of weather erosion have given us an amazing sight to see.
Natural Bridges Cove – Located on Hwy 101 along the southern Oregon coast holds many interesting and natural wonders, and Natural Bridges Cove is one of them. Just before the CA border, there is a town of Brookings. This cover is just a couple of miles north of that. Just breathtaking.
I mentioned my love of waterfalls right? Salt Creek Falls is one of 7 Waterfall Wonders in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Region. Cascading 286 feet, Salt Creek Falls is one of Southern Oregon’s most powerful falls. A steep trail from the platform to the waterfall’s base is short, but is not wheelchair accessible due to numerous stairs. The best viewpoint is halfway down this path. Salt Creek Falls Observation Site is 23 miles southeast of Oakridge and approximately 5 miles west of Willamette Pass. From Highway 58 look for the signs, turn onto Forest Service Road 5893 and follow the signs.
UPDATE! We visited the Oregon Coast this summer and found more for you!
Have you been to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse? We visited this really unique lighthouse, with a really great story! Take the tour! It’s free! The beautiful scenery around it, is just as amazing.
Oh … A little advice!! Traveling down the Oregon Coast? Don’t feed the sea birds. Even if he or she looks you in the eyes, begs and promises to be alone. Don’t ask us how we know that!! If you decide your story will be different, don’t say we didn’t warn you! Ha!!!
Boondocking in Oregon
The Oregon coast is known as “the People’s Coast”. Per the website, you are invited to camp overnight on any of their public beaches, unless specifically stated no camping. Keep your eyes open for those signs before you go and set up.
- Elk River National Forest: GPS: 42.735652, -124.401737 – Watch this area if you’re a big rig. Depending on your size, you might want to skip this one if you’re a big rig. But check it out. The views are amazing.
- Winema Wayside – GPS: 45.14191, -123.96971 – This is a rest area, but it’s big rig friendly – Gorgeous coast view once the sun comes up. No facilities. Don’t stay too long here. I think the rules are one night, but you might be able to push it for 2.
- Are you going to the Evergreen Air and Space Museum in Oregon? Did you know they allow you to park in their lot for 2 nights for free? Yes, it’s lot-docking as we call it, but perfect if you’re going to be visiting the museum, right? GPS: 45.204028, -123.142602
- 2020 Update! We went back to Oregon and learned about Rufus! Have you been there? GPS: 45.692701, -120.756865 (see picture below)
There is so much more to do and see in Oregon. Let’s hear your secrets, and unique places.
Have you checked out our other “Off the Beaten Path” states? Let us know what you think? Remember to Live Simply ~ Give More ~ Expect Less.