As a California native who lived in Arizona for the past 4 years, I was very excited to get out and explore new territory. The first state we officially roamed was Oregon, and it was certainly different from anything I've ever experienced. Home to the highest concentration of waterfalls in North America, Oregon was so noteworthy we spent the majority of a year exploring its environment.
Gold Hill, OR
Conveniently located close to the California border, Valley of the Rouge State Park was a comfortable first stop.
Upon arrival, we experienced our first dose of heavy Oregon rain and discovered we had a leak! Unfortunately, this is still something we need to constantly repair and be mindful of.
We anticipated not having Wi-Fi or laundry services. These were small prices to pay for a place to call home. There was plenty of local TV channels, good cellphone signal, and so much to explore outdoors.
If you look up the Valley of the Rouge State Park, you may read some not so favorable reviews. At the time, we couldn't understand why. Our RV was nestled amongst the trees for the first time, and we could see the river. But as we dove deeper into the state, we found that the bar for Oregon State Parks was so much higher than our first impression. We enjoyed our time in Gold Hill.
Things to Do Around Gold Hill, OR:
- Explore the Rouge River
- World Famous House of Mystery
-Taqueria La Guacamaya
Our Average Cost Per Night: $39.15
Along Oregon's coastline, right before you hit the Washington border, you'll run into the city of Warrenton. There, you'll find the wreck of the Peter Iredale in Fort Stevens State Park.
The entire park is wonderful. With its well-paved trails, you can easily walk or bike through this beautiful state park. Nearby the shipwreck is a historic military site. There, you'll find well-preserved World War II structures that once housed artillery. The structures themselves are pretty solid, and the park allows you to roam in and out of them, which is a neat experience.
If you don't get your fill of hiking or history at Fort Stevens, be sure to check out Fort Clatsop. It's located along the Lewis and Clark Trail and has plenty of trails for any level of hike you want to take on.
In the city of Warrenton, there are plenty of modern retail chains, and it's right next door to the historic town of Astoria. If you're a Goonies fan, you'll have to visit Astoria.
With plenty of room for everyone at the beaches, you're actually allowed to drive on them. This totally blew my mind when I saw it, but hey, Oregon, do you.
Things to Do Around Warrenton, OR:
- Fort Stevens State Park
- Fort Clatsop State Park
- Shops at Seaside
- Historic Astoria
- Guadalajara Combo
Our Average Cost Per Night: $50
A few miles off the highway in Buxton, OR, is L.L. Stub Stewart Memorial State Park. It is one of the newest and finest Oregon State Parks. The camp spots are spacious and clean. Firewood and ice are available for purchase. Plenty of hiking trails await just steps away from your RV. There are even long-paved bike trails if you love biking. The only item I would say this park is missing is bike rentals.
Outside of the park, there isn't much offered. A 30-minute or so drive will lead you to the small town of Banks. It has a small grocery store along with an Amazon Hub Locker, so if you need anything delivered, you have that option also.
Overall, Buxton is a great place to stay outside and keep busy. Just make sure to pack all your essentials beforehand.
Things to Do Around Buxton:
- L.L. Stub Stewart Memorial State Park
Our Average Cost Per Night: $46.80
Upon entering Culver, you don't really see much. Centrally-located, it wasn't too big of a surprise to see some farmland, a large grocery store, and a Love's gas station.
But, past the train tracks and down a steep and winding road, you'll find yourself inside a canyon, looking at the Deschutes River.
The Cove Palisades State Park mainly functions as a water sports area, so there isn't much hiking available, but there are designated swimming areas as well as water equipment rentals. We opted for jet skis and, needless to say, we had a blast.
Things to Do in Culver, OR:
- Cove Palisades State Park
Our Average Cost Per Night: $41.20
Cascade Locks, OR
One of the things that attracted us to Oregon was the fact that it holds the largest concentration of waterfalls in North America. What we also learned is that it is home to several rainforests. Ainsworth State Park was the perfect place to explore both these wonders.
The park itself is pretty tight. As we were still new to the lifestyle, we had a hard time parking and getting level. Be sure to have some blocks handy.
While there, there was no more space in their septic system. We discovered this when we released our black tank into the already overflown system, which led to what Travis humbly calls, "The Poop Volcano." There was also little to no signal, though by then, wasn't a huge inconvenience. That said, even with all the difficulties, Ainsworth gave us a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Waterfall hikes, fish hatcheries, and scenic drives; Cascade Locks truly has it all.
My only tip: if you're stopping by Multnomah Falls, arrive early. Parking can be a pain, and it can get very crowded.
Things to Do Around Cascade Locks:
- Ainsworth State Park
- Bonneville Dam / Hatchery
- Multnomah Falls
- Lilo's Hawaiian BBQ, Hood River, OR
Our Average Cost Per Night: $33.80
Seeing the ocean will never cease to amaze me. Whether you're on a sandy beach or high up on a cliff, the ocean and its vastness will always seem never-ending.
The city of Florence is home to the Carl G. Washburne State Park. The park itself has a huge amount of dense tree coverage. This naturally provides cooler temperatures and shelter from the rain and sun. At first, I was elated because it meant that even though we got rain, we wouldn't have to worry as much about our leak. But after a few days, the darkness from the shade made me feel a little depressed.
Luckily, like most of Oregon's State Parks, there's plenty to do outside. Just a few steps away from the RV was a trail that followed a river, leading to a rocky beach. And no matter how you decided to exit the campgrounds, there is always some new activity ahead. From lighthouse hikes and sea lion caves to the world-famous Thors Well, there is plenty to keep you active and busy. Personally, I found the Spouting Horn much more impressive than Thors Well.
Things to Do Around Florence:
- Carl G. Washburne State Park
- Thors Well / Spouting Horn
- Heceta Head Lighthouse
Our Average Cost Per Night: $42.14
During our stay in Silverton, I grew tired of moving basically every week. Although the adventures and sightseeing can be amazing experiences, there's also something special about staying put. Things like knowing your neighbors, receiving mail, or even knowing the layout of your local grocery store are truly some aspects of life I've grown to appreciate. So, when we found the small and friendly city of Silverton, we called it home for the winter.
What we didn't expect was the weather. Rain, thunderstorms, and even snow.
Combined with the leak, condensation, and even staying warm, everything melded to cause quite the headache. Fighting the condensation daily to prevent mold was exhausting, and some mornings we woke up without water because our pipes had frozen overnight. Still, the people and city of Silverton were good to us. And sometimes, you just gotta make do.
Things to Do Around Silverton:
- Visit Alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch
- Oregon Garden
- Silver Falls State Park
- Los Griasoles
Our Average Cost Per Night: $32.00