Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Oregon – Our Top Hidden Gems!

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! Let’s 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 with a rainbow of colors because of the lichens and algae that grow in the dark, wet space.

Painted Hills

An unusual combination of a brutal high-desert climate mixed with the gentler lowland environment creates a setting for one of the most scenic landscapes in Oregon. 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

Located in 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.  

The Wreck of Peter Iredale

100-year-old shipwreck you can walk up to at low tide. The Peter Iredale was a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel that ran ashore on 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. Take SW 9th Street West from Warrenton proper 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.

Crack In The Ground

MEcrackrock

I’m guessing coming up with a name wasn’t top on the priority list for this. Ha! This volcanic fissure is 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 is really 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.

Airplane Home

Airplane

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 private residence is 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

Elowah Falls (also called McCord Creek Falls). 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! If you allow us to post the pictures, I’ll give you credit!

2021 Update! One of our readers sent us this beautiful picture of Elorah Falls Bridge. Thank you to Holly for this picture, and you can follow her on Instagram @adventureswithholly. I highly recommend following her. She has some amazing and beautiful places to explore, not to mention incredible photography!!

Photo By Holly – IG: @adventureswithholly

Pillars of Rome

Located 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, it holds many interesting natural wonders, including Natural Bridges Cove. Just before the CA border, there is the town of Brookings. This cover is just a couple of miles north of that. Just breathtaking. 

Salt Creek Falls

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!

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

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!!!

Looking for RV camping in Oregon? Click the button below where we share all our free boondocking plus paid campground and membership camping areas.

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Travel Destinations & Stories

The Top Places to See in Newport, Oregon

2, 4 or 7 Day Itinerary 

When we decided to go west instead of north for the summer, we were excited to explore the Oregon Coast. Newport was one of our favorite places because there is so much to do. Whether you have a weekend or a full week, you’ll find some amazing things to do in Newport!

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

This was not only a beautiful area but the history and free tour (just stop into the visitors center for your ticket) was really fun. The Yaquina Head lighthouse is the tallest, and one of the most recognizable lighthouses on the Oregon coast. 

While you’re at the Yaquina Lighthouse – it’s just a few steps down to the beach area, where you can see the lighthouse from a different angle. The very rocky beach is worth the walk down!

Newport Historic Bayfront

We actually had not planned to stop here, but when we heard the loud barking of the sea lions, we followed the sound. Watching and learning their behaviors was both fun and educational. Did you know Sea Lions actually get cold and shiver? And they also get very angry at one another once they are warm and another cold sea lion decides to cuddle for some warmth. This was really fun to watch. We also saw some California sea lions (which surprisingly do look different) which based on the time of the year, were not supposed to be there. 

Yaquina Bay Bridge

An Oregon architectural icon for sure! The bridge crosses Yaquina Bay and can be seen from so many different locations around Newport. You can actually see how close we camped to the bridge, below in our “where we stayed” section.

Also – Check out our Off the Beaten Path in Oregon. Our Top 10 Secret Finds in Oregon

Newport Aquarium

Open for over 25 years this is a great aquarium to take the kids. Who doesn’t love spending a few hours in an aquarium anyway! This one is really set up well!

Ripleys Believe It or Not

I wonder if you have to be my age to even know what this sort of place is. As a young teenager, I would be glued to the TV watching episodes of weird collections of oddities like shrunken heads and mysterious historical mysteries that were never solved. This is a really fun and unique place to take the kids while you’re in Newport.

Highway 101

Just do it!!! Pull off on every area you can! When you see a pull-off area, it means there is something to see. We found some beautiful views and historical signs to read.

Chowder Soup Anyone?

Of course, when you’re in Newport, you need to visit Newport Chowder Bowl. Searching thick, creamy clam chowder, fish and chips and other local seafood from the Oregon Coast. Guess what … I don’t eat or like seafood! I know! I’m always given a hard time about it! But I hear it’s the best chowder soup in the region.

Searching for Agates

This was a surprise to me! The friends we were with knew some locals who loved to walk Agate Beach and find Agates. We had never done that, but why not. What a fun afternoon of learning and walking the coast. And yes, we found lots of Agates!

South Beach State Park

One thing I noticed in Oregon is that the shorelines seem to be wide and long. Where I lived on the coast in CA the beaches were very different. Very rocky, and had a drop off pretty close to the shoreline. We enjoyed flying some kites here with friends and an amazing sunset.

Devils Punchbowl

Another complete surprise. Easy access, no hiking involved, and it’s mesmerizing how the water crashes through this large rock formation. I had only wished I knew there was a trail to get down inside the punchbowl. I might have tried to come back during low tide and get down there. Next time!! Still an amazing view, but high tide provides a more dramatic landscape with water swirling and the waves crashing against the punch bowl walls – you’ll understand the name at high tide!

Seal Rock

Just 10 miles south of Newport, you’ll find Seal Rock. We arrived at low tide and enjoyed the many many tide pools up and down the beach. We highly recommend going during low tide! What a treat that was. 

Whale Watching

We must have seen 10 pods of whales up and down the coast. Look closely! You’ll see them diving and spouting as they are feeding. Also, if you head to the visitors center in Newport, they will have a list of the current sightings that day. There are also several whale-watching tours you can sign up for. We didn’t do that this time.

There are so many other places to visit near Newport, Oregon! I know we must have missed a million things. What was your favorite place to visit near Newport?

Where We Stayed

We stayed in the dry camping part of the Newport RV Park and Marina. There are no hookups here, and they do have you parked pretty close together. But we managed to score an end spot, which wasn’t too bad. During the weekends it was busy but during the week we were almost the only ones there. Cost – a little over $20 a night. Not the perfect situation, and we’d always prefer to find free areas, but this was the best we could do in order to explore Newport.

We hope we gave you some of our excellent ideas on where to go, what to see, and where to stay in Newport, Oregon!

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So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!