The beginning of 2021 found us in Bozeman, Montana, dealing with the first real winter we’ve experienced since we moved from Wisconsin to Southern California in 2011. Thanks to Covid, we decided to spend the winter in our condo that we purchased in July of 2020, instead of heading to warmer climes. Bozeman is as equally as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer, but after almost six months of cold and snow, we were ready to adventure again.
Our very first night back in the Airstream for the year was May 15th. We spent two nights at a nearby campground to get the rig de-winterized and to make sure everything was still functional after its long winter sleep. Besides needing to replace the propane tank hoses, all systems were a go! It was during this first outing that we started a new tradition we refer to as #CampfireSweatshirtSeries. Here’s a sneak peak, but I’ll share more about that later:
Without further ado, our year in numbers:
States Visited: 5 | Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and California – We weren’t able to add any new states to our Airstream travel map this year, so our total sits at 20. (And that’s where it will stay, but more on that later.)
Miles Traveled: 3,410 | We opted to stay mostly close to home this year and it really made for an enjoyable spring, summer, and fall to not be putting too many miles on.
Nights on the Road: 100 | I’m actually pretty happy with this number, seeing as we spent almost the entire first half of the year in our condo.
Different Overnight Locations: 24 | We had a good mix of site types this year, with a fifth of our nights being spent in national park campgrounds; a healthy blend of city, county, & regional parks; four state parks, all in Oregon; a sprinkle of casino, Harvest Host, & fairgrounds stays; two different KOAs; and the remaining nights being spent in private RV parks/campgrounds.
Total Site Fees: $4017.79 | That number is a combination of nightly/weekly/monthly rates, tax, reservation fees, and electricity. It comes out to an average of $42.72/night, which is much higher than we like to spend. However, our not-too-ridiculously-priced place where we usually spend the winter in San Diego County was closed for maintenance and the also-not-too-spendy backup wasn’t available when we first arrived, so we had to settle for one of the holy-crap-this-is-stupid-money RV parks for the last month and a half of the year.
National Park Service Sites: 6 (Officially) | We revisited a few of our favorite national parks – Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier and Redwood. We also added a new one in Pinnacles. We visited Crater of the Moon National Monument as well, and minus Redwood, our 20 nights in national parks campgrounds were spread across those 5 parks. We also made it to see the Golden Gate Bridge, but didn’t officially cross the bay to Golden Gate National Recreation Area. And one of our favorite places to visit this year was the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which is actually managed by the U.S. Forest Service as opposed to the National Park Service.
You can find information about all of the places we’ve stayed and traveled to in previous blog posts.
You can find wrap ups for previous years here: 2018, 2019, and 2020.
As I mentioned earlier, we started a new thing we refer to as the #CampfireSweatshirtSeries. For some reason, we decided to start taking campfire photos at every place we stayed (with a fire pit) while I sported a ‘Campfire Sweatshirt’. Are we weird? Yes. Do these pics bring me joy when I look back at them? Also yes. We have never shared these publicly before, so enjoy!
We also did a Phase 2 of modifications at Ultimate Airstreams. You can read all about that here, but here are a few pics of what we had done:
On the personal front, we got on a plane in July for the first time in a long time to fly to Wisconsin to visit and spend time with family. We explored a lot of things we never got around to while living there, such as:
Lambeau Field Tour and Packers Hall of Fame – Green Bay | We’ve been to plenty of games and we’re even Packers shareholders, but Travis hadn’t done the tour since he was a kid and I had never done it, and neither of us had ever been to the Hall of Fame.
Harley Davidson Museum – Milwaukee | The museum is pretty great and has an onsite restaurant.
Lakeshore State Park – Milwaukee | This is a smaller, urban state park, but is nice for a walk along Lake Michigan.
While in Milwaukee, we were also able to catch the traveling Beyond Van Gogh exhibit…
…and check out Fiserv Forum a few hours before the Bucks won the championship!
Summer in Wisconsin can be pretty great!
We also flew to San Diego in September for our friends’ wedding. This trip actually felt like the kind of vacation we would take pre-Airstream life…
Speaking of pre-Airstream life…
While we didn’t put on a lot of miles this year and most of the places we spent the bulk of our time we had been to before, we really enjoyed our travels this year. However, towards the end of the year we officially decided to do something that we’ve been discussing for a looooong time — we’re selling the Airstream. There are many reasons that go into this decision and I’ll share them at some point, but for now, you can find more information regarding our rig at the blog post here, the RV Trader link here, the Airstream Marketplace link here, or the Airstream Hunter link here. If you are interested, please reach out. If you know someone who may be interested, please pass along our info.
Silver Falls State Park is known as the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Park system and it’s easy to see why. Located about 65 miles south of Portland and 20 miles east of Salem, the park, including the campground, is a forested, mossy, waterfall wonderland that is meticulously maintained. It’s the largest state park in Oregon and has more than 24 miles of walking/hiking trails, 14 miles of horse trails, and a 4-mile bike path. When we stayed in early November, we were able to still enjoy the fall colors, but it was very damp and rained pretty regularly. Regardless, this park definitely finds itself towards the top of our favorite state parks list.
Name: Silver Falls State Park
Address: 20024 Silver Falls Hwy SE, Sublimity, OR 97385
Our campsite was an extremely long (83 feet) back-in site with an electric and water hookup. The sites are paved, which is great with all the rain the area receives. We stayed fairly late into the season when the campground wasn’t very busy, so it was peaceful and quiet. A handful of deer seem to call the campground home as we saw a few wandering about every day. I popped into the restrooms to check them out and they were super clean, which is impressive considering all of the rain and pine needles that must get tracked in but there was no trace of. The showers are individual shower rooms and were equally as clean. We used a vault toilet at the North Falls trailhead and even that was super clean – like, the cleanest vault toilet I’ve ever seen.
The main draw to Silver Falls is the abundance of waterfalls, ten of which you can enjoy if you traverse the Trail of Ten Falls. I’ve seen the length of this trail posted as both 7.2 miles and 8.7 miles, and seeing as we only did bits and pieces of the trail, I’m not sure which is more accurate. There are also other multiple shorter loops and out and back trails that lead to some of the falls, so it is definitely not necessary to do the entire Trail of Ten Falls in order to enjoy this park.
This park/trail map is from the Oregon State Parks website:
On our first full day in the park, the rain held off for a while and we were able to visit the South Falls area of the park. This part of the park is home to a café, a store, restrooms with flush toilets, a swimming area, an off-leash dog area, and a starting point for three of the park’s trails: the Rim Trail, the Canyon Trail, and the Maple Ridge Trail. This is also where you will find the park’s most visited waterfall, South Falls. South Falls is the second largest falls in the park at 177’ tall, just one foot shy of the tallest falls, Double Falls. While there is a very short walk to a viewing platform, South Falls is best enjoyed by taking the 1-mile loop that will take you on a path down behind the falls, across a bridge at the base of the falls, and loops back up to where you started.
On our second day of exploring, we drove to the North Falls trailhead. From here we did a short out and back to North Falls, where again you can follow the trail to behind the falls. You can continue along the trail, which is the Canyon Trail and part of the Trail of Ten Falls loop, but we opted to walk back towards the parking area and follow another short out and back to Upper North Falls. My watch measured these two little out-and-backs as 1.37 miles total, but the park lists it as 1.8. I guess it depends how far past North Falls one goes in order to determine the length.
As the names suggest, North Falls is on the north-ish (more east) end of the park and South Falls is on the south-ish (more west) end of the park. As we drove from North Falls back towards the campground on the south end of the park, we stopped at the Winter Falls trailhead. We hiked the short distance to Winter Falls and then, again, returned to the trailhead. This little roundtrip was less than a half mile, so again, another very doable length to view a beautiful waterfall. If you continue past Winter Falls, you’re able to access the most remote falls in the park: Middle North Falls, Drake Falls, Lower North Falls, and Double Falls. From what I can tell from the map, this hike would be around two miles round trip.
We ended up extending our stay one night in order to avoid a travel day consisting of high winds and lots of rain, which is a pretty typical weather situation for this time of the year. Most of the day was spent inside the Airstream, but the rain did let up for a little bit, so we drove back over to the South Falls area so we could walk around and get a little exercise. There were only three other cars in the parking lot, so if you want the trails and waterfalls all to yourself, then visit while it’s raining.
Even though we stayed at Silver Falls State Park during a fairly rainy part of the year and things were quite damp, we really enjoyed our stay. A visit during the latter part of the year allowed us to enjoy the fall colors, as well as a campground and trails without very many people. I think some of the falls dry up during the warmer months, so it was nice to be able to experience them after the area received a decent amount of rain and the falls were flowing at a pretty good clip. I found myself often commenting out loud how beautiful everything was — the fog, the moss, the trees — it all felt somewhat magical!
We left Bozeman on September 26th to drive west towards Ultimate Airstreams in Clackamas, Oregon, where we were having some updates/upgrades and maintenance issues taken care of. We chose to take the longer, flatter route along US-191 south out of Bozeman to West Yellowstone, to US-20/US-26 west to Mountain Home, Idaho, and then northwest along I-84 to the Portland area. Our stops along this trip would include Juniper Campground in Ririe, Idaho; Lava Flow Campground at Craters of the Moon National Monument near Arco, Idaho; Abundant Life RV Park in Caldwell, Idaho; Emigrant Springs State Park in Meacham, Oregon; and Ainsworth State Park in Corbett, Oregon.
After a beautiful drive through Gallatin Gateway and the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park, we arrived at our first stop — Juniper Campground!
We only spent one night at Juniper Campground, which is a county campground located on the Ririe Reservoir (formed by the Ririe Dam). There are three loops, with Loop A being reservable, and Loops B & C being first come, first served. There are 60 RV sites, with most being full hookups, and there’s a good combination of pull throughs and back ins. A10, A12, and A14 have views of the reservoir, but these are three of the few sites without a sewer hookup. Our site was a fairly level pull-through site, though we did need to use levelers on one side. The hookups were well located and our site was surrounded by Juniper trees, giving us privacy from the sites around us. All sites have a picnic table and fire pit. Many of the back-in sites in A loop are fairly unlevel/steep front to back. C Loop has very long, wide pull throughs that will accommodate any size rig. We didn’t check out B Loop. There is a grassy area for tent camping. Each loop has a bathroom with showers. There are a few picnic pavilions throughout as well as a basketball court. There is boat access to the reservoir with the steepest and longest boat ramp I’ve ever seen. This campground was very quiet when we stayed and has a camp host that stopped by to give us his contact info and inform us about the gate, which is locked from 10pm to 5am (it does open from the inside if you need to leave during that time for some reason). This was our first night back in the Airstream in about two months, so we had some housekeeping to attend to in our brief overnight stay and we didn’t venture out anywhere except to get gas.
Dates Stayed: September 26, 2021 – September 27, 2021
Full Hookups Available
Reservation and First Come, First Served Sites
Restrooms with Showers
Next, we ventured to Craters of the Moon National Monument for a one-night stay at first come, first served Lava Flow Campground. Lava Flow is the only campground located within Craters of the Moon and it’s a beaut! It’s the most well-maintained and well-manicured NPS campground we’ve ever seen. There are 42 sites, all without hookups. The road throughout the campground is narrow and there aren’t a lot of sites that can accommodate a large rig, or even a medium-sized rig. I would highly recommend stopping at the visitor center on your way in so that you can get a campground map and see what you’re working with. We ended up in Site 2, which is actually across the street from the campground, along with Site 1. Both of these are large pull throughs that can accommodate any size rig and will save you having to drive through the campground looking for a spot. Once you find a site, there is a pay machine at the entrance that accepts credit card only. You are able to pay for one night at a time. Our site had a picnic table and grill, but no fire pit. There are both restrooms with flush toilets and showers (seasonal) and vault toilets, as well as water spigots throughout the campground. There’s also a nice little amphitheater where I assume they do ranger talks and there’s access to the Crater Flow Trail right from the campground. It can get VERY windy, so don’t leave anything outside that could blow away.
Dates Stayed: September 27, 2021 – September 28, 2021
Rate: $15.00; $7.50 with Access Pass or Golden Age Pass
First Come, First Served
Restrooms with Showers (Seasonal)
From the Craters of the Moon brochure:
Many lava flows exist on Earth’s actual moon, but astronauts confirmed that most lunar craters resulted from meteorite impacts, not volcanism. The craters of Craters of the Moon, however, are definitely of volcanic origin. But where is the volcano? These vast volumes of lava issued not from one volcano but from a series of deep fissures — known collectively as the Great Rift — that cross the Snake River Plain. Beginning 15,000 years ago, lava welled up from the Great Rift to produce this vast ocean of rock. The most recent eruption occurred a mere 2,000 years ago, and geologists believe that future events are likely.
Loop Road is a 7-mile scenic drive that provides access to trails that take you over, under, and around the various volcanic features of the park. Many of the sites are accessed by fairly short trails from the parking areas, or can even just be viewed from the parking areas themselves. This is definitely a park that can be done in one day, even if you choose to traverse the 3.6-mile (roundtrip) North Crater Trail.
As you can see below, the trailhead signs are very informative, but there are two things that cannot be referenced on the sign that ended up making us turn around at a little over a mile into the hike. 1) It was very dry during our visit. Like really, really dry. The humidity was 18%. That, along with the wind that didn’t ever seem to quit, just sucked all of the moisture right out of us, even giving us cotton mouth. We brought water with us on the trail, but by a mile in, we had already drank half of it, so we decided to turn around. 2) The sign lets you know about the cumulative elevation gain and loss, but does not inform you that this gain and loss continuously repeats along the trail. It’s possible that the continuous up and down of the trail wouldn’t be so noticeable if it was less windy and less dry (and we had more water with us). Regardless, this was a really great trail that had a lot of interesting views along the way and I’d highly recommend it.
You actually walk across lava flow fields while on the trail and the metal poles as seen below guide you.
It’s hard to grasp the size of this area, but there is person in a red shirt at the bottom of the stairs that lead to the inclined trail for scale.
Next, we stopped at Inferno Cone. It looks innocent from a distance, but there’s a pretty steep incline along a trail made of crushed lava rock that’s difficult to walk on, especially when the 30+mph winds are whipping it against any skin that’s uncovered.
The views from the top were pretty nice…
…but very, very windy.
We then continued along the loop to the Spatter Cones area. These are easily accessible along a paved trail.
Our last stop of the day was the cave area of the park. In order to enter the caves, you need to obtain a permit, which consisted of the person in the entrance kiosk stamping our pamphlet when we first entered the park. No one checked it before we entered the caves and it didn’t seem like they give out a limited number of permits, so I’m not really sure what the purpose is. Anyways, we didn’t feel the caves, which are actually lava tubes, were anything to write home about. They’re just caves, some more accessible than the others. I would recommend each person bring a headlamp as they’re, well, caves, and there’s not much for natural light. Seeing as bats live in some of them, you’re not supposed to wear anything into the caves that you’ve worn into any other caves in the last few years in order to prevent white noise syndrome being transferred to the bats.
We spent one night at Lava Flow Campground and that was enough to see everything. It was a very interesting place! Forewarning: Cell signal drops off basically right when you turn down the road to enter the park. It’s possible you might get a little something, but don’t count on it. Also, the last gas station coming from the east is about 20 minutes outside the park and about 30 minutes outside the park when coming from the west. When we visited, the North Crater Flow Trail, which is accessible right from the campground, was closed. This looked like a very nice, easy little trail with boardwalks that winds through some nice scenery. A ranger was set up outside the visitor center to answer any questions, as the visitor center and gift shop were closed due to “everyone being sick”. We always like to buy some souvenirs as reminders of our travels and to help support the parks, and I was able to do that by calling the Craters of the Moon Natural History Association. Their website is www.cratersofthemoonnha.org.
Probably the best feature of Craters of the Moon is that it has an International Dark Sky designation. It was definitely dark at night and we saw the most stars we’ve ever seen anywhere!
We continued west to Caldwell, Idaho, where we spent two nights at Abundant Life RV Park.
Dates Stayed: September 28, 2021 – September 30, 2021
Rate: $55.00; $49.50 with Military Discount
Bathrooms with Showers
Pond w/ Swim Beach
Enclosed Dog Park
This was a well-maintained, small park that seemed to consist mainly of full-time residents. Each site was kept nice and tidy, and the residents were very quiet. This RV park is in a commercial area and is surrounded by RV dealerships, car dealerships, a car wash, gas stations, and various other businesses. While the residents are quiet, the overall location isn’t. There’s a decent amount of traffic and train noise, but nothing so disruptive that it’s going to ruin your day or prevent you from getting a good night of sleep. Caldwell is a good-sized city, so has everything you would need, and also is home to a number of wineries, though we didn’t visit any. We actually didn’t leave the RV park except to get gas and pick up a pizza, as we stayed here during the week and had to work.
From Caldwell, we continued west (but mostly north) into Oregon, where we spent two night at Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area, aka Emigrant Springs State Park. This park is along the route of the Oregon Trail and pays homage to it’s location with some information displays throughout as well as ranger talks during the busier season.
Name: Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area
Address: 65068 Old Oregon Trail Rd, Meacham, OR 97859
Dates Stayed: September 30, 2021 – October 2, 2021
16 Full Hookup Sites Available (5 Available Year Round)
Restrooms with Individual Showers
Firewood for Sale
Group Tent Site
Community Building for Rent
This is a beautiful, wooded campground that is extremely convenient when traveling along I-84. The sites are a decent length and fairly level. There are 16 full hookup sites, while the rest are without hookups. As most of the sites are pretty shady throughout, I’m not sure how well solar panels would help in the non-hookup sites. Five full hookup sites are available year round, though the water gets shut off in the winter. There is water available year round at the restrooms/shower house. The showers are accessed individually, which is always nice from a safety standpoint. There was a camp host on site and it appears there are usually two during the busier season. Wood is available for purchase for $5 for a cart load. This is a smaller park without a check-in kiosk, so it’s important to know your site number if you have a reservation.
While this campground is visually pleasing, it has two issues that make it less than optimal: 1) Interstate noise, and 2) Packrats. That semi in the picture below? Yeah, it’s on Interstate 84, which is a major thoroughfare. As you can see, the entrance to the park is literally yards away from the interstate. Some of the sites even have views of the interstate. One would think that all of the beautiful trees throughout the campground would help to buffer the interstate noise, but one would be wrong. The traffic noise is the loudest we’ve ever experienced anywhere we’ve stayed. It was not very enjoyable to sit outside, so while we spent night one outside for a few hours by the fire, we spent night two inside watching TV. Inside the Airstream, the noise was okay — it wasn’t too loud and didn’t keep us up at night. But outside — no bueno.
The second issue this campground has is packrats. Apparently. We’ve never known them to be an issue outside of the Southwest and none of the reviews on Campendium, The Dyrt, or Google mentioned them, but when we started noticing a few vehicles throughout the campground with the hoods propped open, we asked the camp host. According to him, the packrats are terrible. He’s been working at the campground a long time and has had multiple issues. While his most current truck has been untouched, he did have one making itself at home in his trailer somewhere. So, we propped open our hood at night and crossed our fingers. Thankfully, we had no issues, but because of the packrats and the traffic noise, we would never stay at this campground again. It’s a shame, because it really is a beautiful little campground that apparently existed for decades before the interstate came through. Now, it’s just not very peaceful.
The last stop on our trip to drop the Airstream off was the one I was looking forward to most — Ainsworth State Park. Ainsworth is located in the Columbia River Gorge. Our drive from Emigrant to Ainsworth was almost completely along the Columbia River and incredibly enjoyable. The weather was absolutely perfect and we had a very clear view of Mount Hood as we drove.
Name: Ainsworth State Park
Address: E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett OR 97019
Our site was a pull-through with full hookups, a picnic table, and a fire pit. There’s really not too much else to say about it. The campground as a whole seems like it could use a little love, but it was a decent place to stay for two nights to explore the area, and we would definitely stay here again. While we were in B7, I would say that the best sites are probably A9 – A13, as they have nice views and a little more distance between sites than some of the others. They’re also set up a little further away from the highway. As with any campground in the Columbia River Gorge, there is both train noise and traffic noise, though nothing too bad. From the campground, there is a connector trail to the Gorge Trail #400, which runs for many miles throughout the Gorge area.
I poked my head into the bathrooms and showers to check them out and they both seemed very clean.
While Ainsworth State Park isn’t the most aesthetically desirable Oregon state park we’ve stayed at, its location makes up for what it lacks in beauty. This smaller state park is in the perfect location from which to explore the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge located along the Historic Columbia River Highway (U.S. 30).
At 620 feet, the two-tiered Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon. It’s also the #1 natural tourist attraction in the Pacific Northwest. A short trail leads from the base of the falls up to Benson Bridge, which traverses the creek between the two cascades of the falls and gives a closer view of the upper, taller cascade. The Multnomah Falls Lodge, found at the base of the falls, offers a restaurant with a view of the falls, a snack bar, an espresso bar and a gift shop. The trails around the falls connect to several other Gorge trails that will take you to several other waterfalls. We visited on October 2nd and parking was still fairly limited at this time. There’s a bus called the Columbia Gorge Express that offers roundtrip transport between Portland and Multnomah Falls.
Some of the waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway are visible right from the road while some require a little bit of a hike to get to them. We checked out two other falls while in the area, Wahkeena Falls and Horsetail Falls.
We actually parked at the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead when we visited Multnomah Falls, as we had driven to Multnomah Falls initially, but found parking to be nonexistent. We took the half-mile trail to Multnomah first and then returned on the same trail to then take the short trail up to the 242-foot Wahkeena Falls.
Like Multnomah Falls, the 176-foot Horsetail Falls is visible from the parking area right along the highway.
It seems as though there’s still a lot to explore in this area, such as hiking trails, more waterfalls, and the view of five mountains (Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount Jefferson) from Sherrard Viewpoint on Larch Mountain — really don’t know how I missed that one when planning for this stop. I guess we’ll just have to make a return trip!
From Ainsworth State Park it was a short, albeit stressful (not a fan of driving through Portland), drive to drop the Airstream off at Ultimate Airstreams. We dropped it off early in the morning, were back on the road by 8:15am, and drove the 11 hours (we took the most direct route) back to Bozeman where we’re getting our condo prepped for our renters and packing up what we didn’t already pack into the Airstream. We’ll be spending this winter in warmer climes in the San Diego area and can’t wait! We’re also looking forward to seeing and experiencing the updates and modifications by Ultimate Airstreams that will make our Airstream life a little more comfortable.
Our second year as full-time Airstream dwellers/digital nomads/travelers has come and gone. We added a few new states to our travel map (North Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho), crossed the northern border for the first time (it won’t be the last time), and traveled 7,607 miles (just 61 miles less than last year). Our longest drive day was 377 miles and our shortest was 6.5 miles. We averaged $46.63/night in lodging costs, thanks to spending 45 days in a condo/hotels at various times throughout the year while our converter was fixed, solar panels were installed, and modifications were done to the interior.
We continued to learn more about ourselves, our Airstream, our country, and the nomadic lifestyle. Here’s a look back at our second year on the road:
We visited 13 National Park Service sites, with 8 of them being new to us:
We also revisited Death Valley, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, and Mount Rushmore.
With our return visit to South Dakota, we were able to conquer the remaining 3 sites of South Dakota’s Great 8, the other 5 of which we saw last summer:
The other 5 are Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and the Missouri River.
We hiked, and hiked, and hiked…
and paddled, and paddled, and paddled…
and soaked, and soaked, and soaked.
We chased waterfalls…
but we also stuck to the rivers…
and the lakes that we’re (not) used to.
We drank beer…
We rode a gondola in Palm Springs…
and one in Banff.
(Have I mentioned I don’t like gondolas?)
We saw where Forrest Gump ended his run…
and where Thelma and Louise drove off a cliff.
We saw lots of wildlife…
and visited the geographic center of the country.
We added four new tires,
two new batteries,
four new solar panels,
and a couch and a desk.
We had visitors in Las Vegas; Hurricane, UT; Custer, SD; and Glacier National Park:
Our second year on the road was fantastically fun and memorable, even with the issues we encountered. (I’m looking at you flat tire and junk converter.) All of the inconveniences we deal with are by far worth the amazing places we get to experience. Thanks for following along and we hope you stick around for 2020, our third year on the road — although we’re not really sure what’s in store yet!
Oregon has great state parks! We’ve stayed at a few in the past, and additionally have explored a few more, and this has been our favorite one to date in regards to the campground. There are three loops: A, B and C. There’s a mixture of full-hookup sites and electric-only sites, as well as Yurts (some are dog friendly), a very popular hiker/biker camp, and a horse camp. We were in site B55, a full-hookup, back-in site that was a little difficult to get into thanks to the narrow interior campground streets, but plenty spacious once we got backed in. We walked through B loop and C loop and found that the sites in B loop are a little closer together, but have more privacy due to the trees and shrubbery between each site. The sites in C loop are a bit more spread out and better for big rigs, but they’re a lot more open with trees that provide shade, but not privacy. The showers are separate from the restrooms, with both facilities being fairly basic with concrete block walls and cement floors, but very clean. There are at least four camp hosts on site and firewood is available for purchase from one of them from 4pm-8pm nightly.
The beach is accessed by a 1.25-mile paved trail. Dogs are allowed on the beach but must be leashed and there’s a restroom with flush toilets. The lighthouse is a bit further up the road – 3 miles one way from the campground – and is open seasonally. There are pit toilets by the lighthouse. The beach itself is not the most scenic beach we’ve seen in Oregon, but it’s clean and isolated and it’s the beach, so it’s great!
Bandon has the perfect balance of the charm one would expect from a coastal Oregon town and amenities a visitor might need – good restaurants, two grocery stores, a post office, and many services including a carwash that accommodates RVs. We stayed in Bandon October 8th-12th, so we missed the summer crowds; however, when the summer crowds are gone, so are the summer hours at many of the shops. On the one day we went into town to do some exploring, it was a few minutes before 5pm, so everything was closing up.
We ate at two different restaurants while in Bandon and they were both delicious. If you’re looking for a casual seafood experience, Tony’s Crab Shack is your place. We ate dinner here twice; one night we both got the crab sandwich and another night we both got the fish tacos. Both meals were great! We also ate at Alloro Wine Bar, which was a nice departure from all of the seafood options in the area. Travis had the duck breast and I had the Mediterranean arugula salad and dungeness crab bisque. Everything was good, though the bisque was more of a soup and needed to be thicker. We had the chocolate espresso brownie for dessert and it was delicious. Being a wine bar, they have a huge wine selection and offer tasting flights.
For the best views of the beach/ocean in Bandon, head to Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint. The beach here is huge, but we visited on an extremely windy day, so we didn’t stick around long enough to walk the beach. If standing at the right angle, it definitely appears as though a rocky face is protruding from the water. There is parking and beach access at the viewpoint.
There’s an organization in Bandon called Washed Ashore that makes amazing sculptures completely out of trash that washes up on the beaches. The sculptures travel around the country to bring awareness to the ocean trash problem. If you find yourself in Bandon, be sure to stop in. And if you find trash on the beach, be sure to pick it up!
We really enjoyed our time in Bandon and will definitely be back!