Ask Oregon Questions & Answers
Which parks on the coast offer yurt camping? We want to stay close to Portland and are traveling with our young grandson.
The State Parks closest to Portland that offer yurt camping include the following (north to south):
Fort Stevens State Park at the mouth of the Columbia River offers 15 yurts. The park is large and is great for families with access to river, beach, lakes and several miles of hiking and biking trails. The park is famous for the 1906 shipwreck Peter Iredale on the beach and military fortifications used to guard the entrance to the river from the Civil War through World War II. From here you can make day trips to other attractions in Astoria, Lewis and Clark’s Fort Clatsop and Seaside, known as one of Oregon’s best family destinations with arcades, an indoor carousel, kiddie rides and more that your 6-year-old grandson would love. Visitors have come to the small Seaside Aquarium for 75 years to feed the seals.
Nehalem Bay State Park is located near Manzanita and offers access to both bay and beach. The park has 18 yurts and nearly two miles of biking trails. During July, the Park’s interpretive programs and guided hikes would be offered daily and they have Junior Ranger programs for kids ages 6-12. Seals are frequently seen basking on the beach near the mouth of the bay (also take note of the coyote warning the park issued last summer). I would suggest you take your grandson on a crabbing aventure. Jetty Fishery on the other side of the bay offers boat and crab gear rentals or crabbing from the docks.
Wet of Tillamook is Cape Lookout State Park with miles of beach and hiking trails. There are 13 yurts available. I love this park and this area. It is just a few minutes away from the small town of Oceanside and Cape Meares State Park (lighthouse and panoramic views). To the south is Cape Kiwanda with its giant sand dune on the flank of the sculpted sandstone cape.
The next closest park with yurts is on the Central Oregon Coast. Devil’s Lake State Park in Lincoln City offers 10 yurts and is a short drive to the beach, but is not on the beach. You may want to consider Beverly Beach State Park north of Newport. It’s a large park with 21 yurts and a playground. I still remember as a child following the trail along the creek from the campground, under a highway bridge and emerging at a long stretch of beach between Yaquina Head and Otter Rock. The park is a short drive to Newport’s attractions like the world class Oregon Coast Aquarium, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Wax Works wax museum and Undersea Gardens. Natural attractions include the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (lighthouse, panoramic views and great tidepool area) and Devil’s Punchbowl at Otter Rock.
Do make your reservations early. Call 1-800-452-5687 to check on availability and make your reservations (online reservations unavailable). These parks also offer small cabins as an option.
Happy exploring and memory creating!
Greetings from Southern Oregon,
The most commonly recommended time to travel the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway is June through October, mainly to ensure clear roads, fair weather and more daylight hours. Volumes of water running in the falls largely depend on wintertime precipitation. We’re off to a good start for this year, considering the flood warnings throughout Southern Oregon several weeks ago. And Crater Lake started seeing enough snow in October to close some roads.
You could plan your trip in mid- to late spring, but mountain travel in this region could still be unpredictable then. If I were planning the trip for myself, I would check the National Weather Service’s precipitation records for this region throughout the winter to confirm they were average or above, obtain extended weather forecasts for the period that I wanted to visit and verify favorable road conditions on ODOT’s website, www.tripcheck.com.
Here’s a story from the Mail Tribune newspaper on the Rogue-Umpqua waterfalls that may help: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080313/LIFE/803130301&cid=sitesearch
Thanks for the great question. I am the Ask Oregon expert on outdoor recreation and the Assistant Manager of the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center, and these are my recommendations for easy hikes in Oregon away from the city. Since Oregon is so rich in variety, I’ve included hike suggestions for northern Oregon, central Oregon to the coast, and southern Oregon as a sort of sampler platter into what the state has to offer. I assume that by easy you mean, easy to find, well-maintained and signed, and good for hikers of all skill levels from kids to seniors.
To the east of Portland you can find endless options for easy hikes. One of my favorites is the Eagle Creek Trail where you will pass half a dozen waterfalls like picturesque Punchbowl Falls (4.2 miles roundtrip). From Punchbowl Falls you can keep on hiking, but it will get steeper as you go, around the six-mile mark you will come across Tunnel Falls, a 120 foot waterfall that has a tunnel built through it. If you feel up for the longer hike and elevation gain, it’s well worth the effort.
Southeast of Eagle Creek, on the other side of Mt Hood, is another great hike (3 miles round trip) that leads to Bagby Hot Springs. The trail follows along the Collawash River through an old-growth forest of douglas firs and cedars. This is a great hike for viewing wildflowers in the spring and rich fall colors in October and November. You can reward yourself with a soak in the rustic hot springs bath house where the tubs are carved out of cedar logs, but be aware, swimsuits are rare.
The first two hikes can be crowded when the weather is nice. If you want to get away from the crowds, go to the Mount Jefferson Wilderness and Canyon Creek Meadows (4.5 miles to the lower meadow). This is one of the best easy hikes to high cascades wildflower meadows. Blue lupine and red paintbrush peak at the end of July. This trail leads you to a scenic viewpoint of Three Fingered Jack (7.5 miles round trip). On the way back to the trailhead you will pass beaver ponds and waterfalls.
Central Oregon offers hikes of a different color – reddish brown. There are tons of great easy hikes away from the city in the central portion of the state. I am always amazed with the beauty around Smith Rock State Park. The trails around the park are relatively easy. Don’t worry though, If you get tired, there are many benches along the way to rest your legs and while you’re resting look up at the rocky cliffs and you’re almost guaranteed to see thrill-seeking rock-climbers defying gravity, Smith Rock is a world renowned climbing destination.
The McKenzie River National Recreation Trail is an all-season favorite of mine. Stretching 26.2 miles from Clear Lake to McKenzie Bridge, you can find a number of easy hikes along the way. Sahalie & Koosah Falls are two spectacular waterfalls about half a mile apart. You can park at either Sahalie Falls or Koosah Falls’ convenient trailheads right off Highway 126 and hike in a loop between the two falls (approximately 2.6 miles). Continue west on highway 126 and take the turn-off for Trailbridge Reservoir. From here, follow the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail 1.5 miles to Tamolitch Falls. Old lava flows have shaped the landscape of the McKenzie River Valley and part of the river flows underground only to re-emerge at Tamolitch Falls. It’s brilliant blue water will amaze you and beg you to linger before hiking back to your car.
If you continue west on Highway 126 you will reach the Oregon coast. A great, easy hike along the way is Sweet Creek Falls, just outside of Mapleton. This 2.2 mile trail passes a dozen small waterfalls and is a favorite among kids who can play in the shallow water when it’s warm and collect fallen leaves in autumn.
To really get away from the city, you have to go to the southeastern corner of the state. A notable easy hike here is Steens Mountain Summit. This is the ninth tallest mountain in Oregon and arguably the easiest to climb. The landscape is unlike any of the previously mentioned hikes.
Oregon’s natural beauty shines on all of these hikes. Get to know the landscape and what shaped it and you will enjoy each of these hikes even more because every trail tells a story.
I’d like to get information about bicycling the entire length of the OC&E Woods Line State Trail. I’d like to hear from someone who has actually done it. I’m interested in the best type of bicycle to use, is an off-road touring bike OK (Salsa Fargo, for instance), recommended tire size, water availability (streams, creeks, etc.), location of the trailhead in the Sycan Marsh, and so on. I haven’t been able to get much information from people who have cycled on the trail. Thanks.
I have not been on the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, but I found some people who have. Most helpful was Zach Gilmour at Hutch’s Bicycles in Klamath Falls (541-850-2453). He has ridden most of the trail and here is what he says:
Water availability (streams, creeks, etc.): “As far as water stops goes, it’s pretty bleak out there for any kind of civilized water. The trail runs very close to and crosses Sprague River and Five Mile creek at several locations. You would be best off bringing water filtration.”
Location of the trailhead in the Sycan Marsh: “For the location of the Sycan Marsh trailhead I actually did a bit of digging around. Nobody I knew has ever been out there so I called the park ranger responsible for that area. The closest access to Sycan Marsh is from Horse Glade trailhead. Apparently there is a gap in the trail that was put in to deter motorized vehicles from driving on it between those two locations (there are endangered species in the marsh). To his knowledge it should be accessible to bikes and hikers still. You should be able to access the Horse Glade trailhead off of Ivory Pine road and turning on road 27″
and so on: “We get people from time to time asking about this section of trail but I have yet to hear of anybody that has traveled it. The park ranger even admitted a degree of ignorance to specifics of things out there. It seems to be a very remote area. If you do make the trip, I would really like to hear about it!” I do have first-hand knowledge of many of the dirt roads and ATV trails in the land just south west of Sprague River. If travels bring you through there I should probably be more helpful.“
I also found this journal on crazyguyonabike.com. It has some good info, but is a little dated… 2008. I hope this helps you plan your trip. I can’t say enough about how helpful the folks were at Hutch’s with my questions and they can also help you if you have more specific questions or need supplies before your ride.
|Cycling, Outdoor Adventure, Southern Oregon|
I’m going to Mt. Hood, want to get to the top of the mountain and want a large variety of ski terrain. Which resort should I visit?
Good day Mitchell!
Thanks for the question. The resort that would most suit you is Mount Hood Meadows. It has everything you are looking for and has the most expert terrain along with the most varied terrain.
When it is clear, the upper lift is all above tree line and has incredible skiing along with beautiful views. The lower has amazing trails and tree skiing of all ability levels. Have an awesome winter and please feel free to send more questions if needed!
All the best,
|Mountain, Mt Hood & Columbia Gorge, Snow Sports|
I gather that you’re after morels, which are this region’s signature springtime mushrooms. The actual season depends largely on elevation. If we get some warm weather in February (50s), which is not uncommon, there can be early flushes of mushrooms in March, particularly in areas burned over by forest fire the previous year. The picking starts to accelerate in April at lower elevations, around 1,000 to 2,000 feet, but the main crop comes in May out of the region’s mountains.
You could get lucky if you have a proven spot in mind. Otherwise, speaking from experience, you can spend a lot of time wandering around in the woods, getting poison oak for your pains and coming home empty-handed. Then you’ll walk past a bark-mulched planter bed in the city and see the mushrooms among the shrubbery!
Just make sure wherever you go, you obtain a permit from whatever agency manages the land you’ll be picking on, which can take a bit of figuring out. It’s usually Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service.
Here’s a story I wrote for the Mail Tribune newspaper about shrooming that has some more tips.
If I could choose just a few things for you do in an afternoon near Newberg, they would be as follows:
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum: This is a great place and if you have wanted to see the Spruce Goose, it’s here! You could certainly spend a lot longer than an afternoon here, but it can be toured and enjoyed in just a few hours if that’s all you have.
Downtown McMinnville: A great place for everything you are looking for! The rooftop restaurant at the McMenamins Hotel Oregon would be a great place for lunch and then let the shopping begin! Downtown McMinnville is filled with shops and sites and delicious places to find good food! You could certainly spend hours just enjoying it!
You can also enjoy visiting Sleigh Bells between McMinnville and Newberg: I love this place! It is a huge gift shop and I am sure it is filled to the brim with Halloween and Fall items right now. Sleigh Bells is also a working Christmas Tree farm so take the tour if you go! Last time I was there, they were serving tea and I know they had some homemade goodies such as fudge for sale. There’s a lot to see there!
We want to see lighthouses on the Oregon Coast in November. Are there RV campgrounds open year-round?
Temperatures are typically mild along the Oregon Coast in November, so only on rare occasions do you need to worry about ice or frost on our roads. This is the rainy season on the coast and it can rain hard and be windy, but the Oregon Coast is spectacular anytime of year and many people come specifically to experience the weather and stormy seas.
There are several State Parks that offer year round RV campsites including Cape Lookout State Park (close to Cape Meares Lighthouse), Beverly Beach State Park (near Yaquina Head and Yaquina Bay Lighthouses), Sunset Bay State Park (near Cape Arago Lighthouse), Umpqua Lighthouse State Park (near Umpqua River Lighthouse), Bullards Beach State Park (near Coquille River Lighthouse) and Cape Blanco State Park (near Cape Blanco Lighthouse). There are also many private RV parks that remain open year-round.
The Heceta Head Lighthouse north of Florence is undergoing an extensive renovation and it is currently completely covered, but Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park nearby is also open year round for RVs.
Visit the Oregon State Parks website to look into the RV facilities.
Hope this is helpful and happy exploring!
We are travelling along I-84 from Pendleton, Oregon to Salt Lake City, Utah. Are there any State Parks that are close to (or along) that stretch of I-84? –Zig
Between Pendleton and the Oregon-Idaho border, there are 4 state parks close to I-84.
Heading west to east, they are:
You might also consider stopping near Baker City at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center open 9-4 daily until December.
There are many great places to view migrating Gray Whales in December all along the Oregon Coast. On the North Oregon Coast, I would recommend Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, the Highway 101 viewpoints from Neahkahnie Mountain near Manzanita or Cape Meares State Park west of Tillamook. On the Central Oregon Coast, I recommend Depoe Bay, Yaquina Head near Newport or the Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center near Yachats. On the South Oregon Coast, try Shore Acres State Park near Charleston, the Face Rock Viewpoint in Bandon or Harris Beach State Park in Brookings.
The winter Gray Whale migration typically peaks in late December and December 26-30, a statewide program called “Whale Watching Spoken Here” positions volunteers at these locations and others to help visitors spot the migrating mammoths.
You can find more information on the program HERE along with a list of all of the locations which can be good for spotting whales anytime between mid-December and mid-January.
Happy whale watching!