Redwoods, Crater Lake & the Oregon Coast

For the final leg of our trip, we left San Francisco and headed up the 101 until cutting over to make a stop at Ft. Bragg. I had planned to swing by Point Reyes National Seashore, but the GPS wasn’t working very well and it didn’t seem like we were headed to the right place, so instead of getting lost and getting stuck somewhere remote like we did last time we were in California, I decided to turn around. Maybe next time we are out that way we can find it.

Taking Highway 1 from Mill Valley to Arcata (our stop for the night), would have taken 11 hours. That’s a lot of driving, so we hopped on and off of it going to and from Ft. Bragg and I felt like we got a good sense for what the entire drive was like: extremely curvy roads!

Ft. Bragg was kind of a let down – I’d saved it on Pinterest years ago, hoping to one day get to the famous glass beach. Pictures were stunning; an entire beach FULL of sea glass, shining in the sun? Yeah, not so much. I think everyone has discovered it and most of the sea glass is gone. I did find a few pieces, but people were camped out, shoveling whatever they could find in bags to sort through at home.

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From there, it was another couple hours to our Airbnb in Arcata, which looked like something straight out of The Hobbit! They had a sauna, soaking tubs and private baths on site and our room had a full kitchen, so this would be a great place for an extended stay. The wifi was not good though, so if you’re needing to do any sort of work while you are there, good luck.

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I tried out the private soaking tubs after dark which was super relaxing, however there weren’t any lights so I had to sit there with my phone flashlight on and when I started to see slugs and worms crawling around from the moss growing next to them, that was enough for me. These are best enjoyed during the day!

Our next to last day, was another long driving day that took us into Oregon. We caught Highway 1 again, winding along the northern California coast and through the gorgeous California Redwoods, stopping to take a scenic drive on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

The forest was stunning, we saw elk, and it’s too bad there wasn’t more time because I would have loved to have done some hiking in the park itself. Next to the elk is a trail, so theoretically, you could walk right behind them. Park rangers are present to keep people from doing anything stupid.

This is a MUST scenic drive, in my opinion. It’s all paved, so you don’t need four wheel drive and it’s easily accessible off the main highway. There are several other scenic drives that you can take in the park as well, including some that are more off road. Here’s a link to those if you have more time and want to do some extra exploring.

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From there, we headed toward Crater Lake! It’s about a four hour drive between the parks and takes you through some really pretty forests along the way. We crossed over into Oregon, and I was able to get my state sign picture pretty easily. As many of you know, I’ve been working on getting photos at all 50 state signs and even though I’ve been to 49/50, I didn’t start this until 2013, so I’m behind. I have 32, plus Washington D.C. so only 18 more to go.

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Once we got to Crater Lake, it was late-afternoon, but the lake itself was absolutely stunning. Clear blue water, some snow still around the rim and gorgeous green trees out on the island in the middle. We drove partly around the rim – I would have liked to have been able to drive the whole thing, but parts of it were still closed, even in July because of snow!

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You can also hike down to the bottom of the crater, swim in the lake and take a boat tour out to the little island! We didn’t get to do any of those things since we had a tighter schedule at the end of our trip, but if I ever go back, some of those things will definitely be on my list.

Our hotel was another hour drive from the rim to Roseburg, OR so we headed there, then just relaxed for the rest of the evening.

The final sight-seeing portion of our trip was Saturday and I had planned to head back to Highway 1 and drive up the Oregon Coast to Thor’s Well, Cannon Beach and also stopping to see the lighthouse from the movie The Ring. But honestly, I was pretty tired of driving at that point and we still had two hours to Portland, so I decided to just go there first and see Multnomah Falls.

Last time I was in Oregon with my friend Jenny, we got to Multnomah early in the morning. Literally no one was there. This time, the parking lot was full and about 15 miles away, a road information sign informed us the exit was closed 🙁

So, we headed to Cannon Beach instead!

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You may recognize Haystack Rock from The Goonies. Cannon Beach is a must-visit, in my opinion. It seemed like it took forever to get there from Portland (probably because we’d been driving for a week already), but it’s really not that far and if you go at low tide, you will see ALL kinds of sea life in the tide pools. I loved it.

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Parking was not especially easy to come by – we found a spot on a side street and walked down to the beach, so be prepared for that. There’s a whole little town built around the area with shops and restaurant and has east coast vibes.

Access to the beach is free, lifeguards are on duty and there are staff out by the rock to keep tourists away from nesting birds. Sometimes you can even see Puffins!! I believe we were there at the wrong time of year for spotting them though.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our west coast journey! Would love to hear of any places that I missed and need to see for next time.


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