Next month we’ll celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. 10 years of marriage and traveling is a long time. It’s also a good reason to plan a vacation. To celebrate our big occasion we’re planning the ultimate Oregon national park road trip.
10 days. 5 national park units. Sightseeing along the entire Oregon coast.
What could be better to commemorate a decade of wedded bliss?
Today we’re posting about how we’re planning the ultimate Oregon national park road trip (with a stop in Redwoods National Park just over the border in California).
The Trip Overview
Oregon has 5 national parks that attract more than 1.3 million visitors each year. This road trip takes you to four of these five parks. Highlights include hiking in Oregon’s famous Crater Lake National Park and camping just across the border in California’s Redwoods National Park. After that, we’ll follow up with a few leisurely days driving the Oregon coastal highway.
Our plan is for plenty of hiking, unlimited stops for seafood and beachcombing, and of course, plenty of Oregon wine.
Related Post: The Perfect Maine National Park Road Trip
Our Ultimate Oregon National Park Road Trip
Fly from base camp to Portland International Airport (PDX). Pick up the rental car and check into a hotel in downtown Portland for our first night in Oregon. Over the years we’ve collected a long list of recommendations from friends and family about Portland sights to see. Spend our afternoon and evening crossing a few off the list.
Wake up early for a visit to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. The visitor’s center is a 15-minute drive across the Willamette River in Vancouver, Washington. Fort Vancouver was the primary trading post on the Pacific Coast for the Hudson Bay Company. Today the National Park Service maintains the restored historic buildings and barracks from the original site as well as the Pearson Air Museum.
After the stop, we’ll hop back in the car for a 5.5-hour drive south to Crater Lake National Park. With just a short time in Crater Lake, we’re planning to prioritize a few key hikes and the driving the Rim Drive which circles the entire lake. We know there’s more to see here, but we’re only able to stay for a short time and still drive the rest of the coast.
- Trip Recap: Crater Lake National Park Itinerary
- Hiking Crater Lake National Park – The Watchman Peak Trail
- Hiking Crater Lake: Lady of the Woods Trail
After a morning of hiking in Crater Lake, it’s back in the car for more of the ultimate Oregon national park road trip. This time it’s driving 3 hours to Oregon Caves National Monument and the Chateau at the Oregon Caves. Named one of the best lodges in the National Park Service, the Chateau is a step back in time. Literally. Built in 1934, we’re prepared for no cell phone service, wi-fi or television at the hotel. The rustic Siskiyou Mountains and the historic building are what we’re really there for!
After a morning hike around the hotel grounds, head underground at Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. Protected by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 and designated a monument by President William Howard Taft in 1909, Oregon Caves protects more than 4,500 acres of cave and forest.
After the tour, the trip continues as we head across the southern border of Oregon to Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) for three nights of camping among some of the last remaining old-growth coastal redwood forests in the world. At one point, more than 2 million acres of the California coast was covered in these forests. Now the largest stands remain in the system of state and federal lands that make up RNSP.
Day Five & Six
The options for exploring Redwood (RNSP) are endless. Coastal beaches. Big trees. RNSP has it all. We are also hoping to spot some Roosevelt Elk in the southern areas of the park and spend some time in a kayak.
- Hiking the Redwoods: Fern Canyon Trail
- Camping in Redwoods NP: The Jedediah Smith Campground
- Hiking the Redwoods: The Coastal Trail to Enderts Beach
- 3 Best Places to See Wildlife in Redwood National Park
- 14 National Parks with Big Trees
On Day 7 we’ll pack up our camping gear and start the coastal portion of our road trip. Heading north on Highway 101, cross back into Oregon and spend the day along the beach. Can’t wait for the coastal towns and fresh seafood. Stop for the night for ocean side camping at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and the Siuslaw National Forest.
Day Eight & Nine
Continue north on Highway 101 to Astoria, the tip of the coastal highway in Oregon. Here is the final #parkchasing stop on the trip at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. Set up camp at Fort Stevens State Park for two days of hiking and exploring the area where the expedition saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. The site includes historical reenactments and an extensive ranger programming schedule.
Spend the day making our way back to Portland where we fly back home (with a camera full of amazing photos!)
11 thoughts on “How to Plan the Ultimate Oregon National Park Road Trip”
I recommend, if you have time to squeeze it in as a stop on the drive from Ft Vancouver to Crater Lake, to stop at the McLoughlin House in Oregon City and take the tour if it is available. This is no longer its own NPS unit, it’s been combined into the Fort Vancouver unit. It complemented our tour of the fort very nicely.
Have milkshakes in the Oregon Cave Chateau’s soda shop. And here is my post on Redwoods…some of what we did might interest you…we had an excellent Kayaking experience on the Smith River:
Enjoy your trip!!
These are terrific recommendations! Thanks for sharing them with us! – We especially can’t wait for the soda shop!
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