Cruisin’ The Oregon Coast In A Camper Van

Oregon Coast in a Camper Van

We got a taste of #vanlife during our time cruising the Oregon Coast in a camper van! This is a personal trip account by Kaylyn Weir, re-shared with permission. Originally shared on @kaylynweir.

We rented “The Charlton” Sprinter from @gocamp_rentals for 3 days and made our way down the Oregon Coast, stopping at Cannon Beach, Nehalem, Tillamook, Tillicum and Reedsport. IT WAS EPIC!!! Our van had everything we needed for a comfortable stay, including an induction oven for cooking, a king size bed, mini refrigerator, sheets and towels, a french press, kitchen tools, campfire chairs and even head lamps for late night campground walks!

I couldn’t have imagined experiencing the Oregon coast in a camper van any other way and wish we had even more time. Upon pickup, we got the chance to meet the sweet owners who spent 6 months building out the inside – custom cabinetry and all! 😍 You can’t beat a car rental AND accommodation all wrapped up into one! 🚙 🌲 With that being said, this post kicks off a look inside our trip in this INCREDIBLE state. Here we go! 

Day 1

We started our first day in Portland with Stumptown coffee by the river. I wasn’t expecting to see so much beautiful foliage around town. It was such a treat! Also, the lattes at Stumptown were SO GOOD. Probably the best coffee we had on the trip (and we had a loooooot of coffee).

Next up on the itinerary was brunch. We stumbled upon Hunny Milk! I’ve always heard talk about the Portland food scene, and this place just verified that. The Bloody Mary’s were tasty, and we really liked how simple the menu was: you pick a sweet dish and a savory dish and they both come out on a tray. Tyler picked the chorizo biscuits + gravy as his “savory”, and I got the chicken + grits as mine. Out of this world! We both chose the fortune cookie waffle as our “sweet”. Honestly, the food was so yummy here that for a second, I wondered if we’d made a mistake choosing to leave the city. But our van awaits, so leave we must. Bye for now, Portland! Hoping to return and do all the city things.

After our van pickup, we drove 2 hours west of Portland to Cannon Beach where we stopped for lunch at Pelican Brewing and sampled their craft beers before deciding on the “Bender” and “Breaker”. Us southerners tend to steer clear of stouts so we didn’t touch those much, ha! 😬

After lunch, we began our hike at Clatsop Loop from Indian Beach. It was a really misty, foggy day with rain in the forecast, and we had the trail all to ourselves for that two hour hike! The forest was so quiet and cool with wild ferns in every direction and the roaring ocean nearby. We even heard seals!

Clatsop Loop is around 3 miles and is a MUST see! This hike was so beautiful with both forest and coastline views and ferns GALORE. Reviewers on the “All-Trails” app recommended hiking it counterclockwise so you have ocean views in the last half. I’d be lying if I said the steady incline in the first half didn’t absolutely kick our butts!! 🍑 😬🤦🏻‍♀️

After our hike, we took an hour nap in our van. Talk about convenience! Once we recharged our batteries, we decided on a Cannon Beach sunset walk towards Haystack Rock. While there wasn’t a picture perfect sunset (lots of fog!) it was a very moody and classic PNW walk. Just how I had imagined it (and exactly what I came for!) The beach is vast and spacious at low tide. 🏖 Manzanita Fresh Foods is great for groceries. We set up camp at Nehalem State Park, and roasted hot dogs over the fire just before the rain fell. One of my favorite memories of the trip was sleeping to the sound of rain against the van roof. I’ll never forget it.

Day 2

It’s day 2 in Oregon and after a hard sleep in the camper, we decided on sausage and egg breakfast burritos on the induction top and enjoyed them at the makeshift table as it rained outside the van. Our first experience with a French press; now we want one for the house. After breakfast, we packed up camp! 🏕 Although Nehalem State Park didn’t feel very private (not a lot of privacy trees on each camp site) it was very beautiful and clean. I would stay here again!

On the way out of Nehalem, we stopped at Hug Point. It’s important to remember that a lot of these points can only be accessed during low tide. For us, that meant around 8 AM!

Time to head to Tillamook! LOOK AT THIS CUTE DRIVER. 😍 On the way to Tillamook, we were ready for a second cup of coffee when we spotted Wandas cafe on the side of the road. This is the cutest cafe EVER with scones bigger than your head! I will miss this place. It just had a “comfort of home” vibe. ☕️

Let me just say – this place is a PRODUCTION! It’s the nicest facility where you can watch the factory from above as they package cheese. 🧀 You can also taste their cheeses and over 30 ice cream flavors and learn more about the history of the creamery. Believe me when I say that their ice cream is out of this world. It’s the creamiest ice cream I’ve ever tasted. (They don’t ship it, I’ve already looked!) I would rank it above Blue Bell. The best ice cream comes from …TILLAMOOK! 🐄 🐮

Forty minutes south Of Devil’s Punch Bowl, we arrived at Tillicum campground for the evening. Wow, what a beautiful camp area! Out of the two, I preferred this one as the campsites felt more private and unique (but note: there are no showers at this campsite.) We grabbed some steaks at a local grocer and sat around the fire while we cooked foil packets (something we didn’t really get to do the night before due to weather!)

I bought the beer for the packaging, but drank it for the taste. This is a damn good beer! 😎 One thing I’m so happy I did was bring “The Art of Conversation” cards on our trip. We each took turns drawing cards + asking one another questions and ended up talking for hours around the campfire. For us, a lot of the trips we plan involve “going”. For example, we drove just over 400+ miles on this trip! This was a moment when we could sit back and take in the sights and sounds of Oregon over a great local craft brew and even better conversation.

Day 3

It’s day 3 and our last full day in Oregon. We left the campground around 8 AM and stopped in Yachats (Ya-hots) for coffee and views.

The Oregon Sand Dunes are the largest sand dunes in the USA, and more than 10,000 acres are open to ATV’s and sand vehicles. We rented a Honda Pioneer 1,000 and spent over two hours on the dunes. Spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean greet you when you reach the top of some of the dunes . I cannot explain to you how special this was.

Describing my short time on the Oregon coast in a camper van is overwhelming. I’ve never met nicer people in my life. From hotel staff and concierge to baristas, locals and passersby, every single person we came into contact with on this trip made us feel so welcome (and I literally mean every.single.person.) Everyone felt like a friend! To put it simply, Oregon is all the good things. The weather (that moody fog and rain 😍) the nature trails, the trees, the food, the craft beer, the rocky cliffs, the golden foliage, the people, the ferns and winding trails along the 101. This state now has a permanent place in my mind, and I look forward to coming back as soon as possible.