The beautiful Oregon coast along highway 101 is the perfect one or two day driving trip starting in Tillamook Oregon and ending in Crescent City California. This trips covers almost 300 miles in 6+ hours of drive time – motorcyle, automobile, doesn’t matter … just watch out for the CruiseAmerica drivers 😉 If you are traveling with a motorhome and renting from CruiseAmerica or similar, please, get familiar with driving a motorhome before your start on Highway 101.
Get to Tillamook from Portland via highways 8 and 6. From there head south on highway 101 through Pleasant Valley. Near Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, do a short excursion to Pacific City. It is only a couple of miles off of 101. If you are there at the right time of year, be sure to stop by for the annual Blessing of the Dory Fleet, typically held by Cape Kiwanda.
Head back to Highway 101, pass through Oretown and Neskowin, turn inland, then back out to the coast where you will arrive at Lincoln City. Lincoln City is a great place to find a hotel either near the beach or away. Or if you are looking for a beach rental, Lincoln City has you covered. Once you decide to move along, continue a little further south and cross over Siletz Bay. If you are feeling adventuresome, exit highway 101 just past the Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, take Salishan Drive out to the Salishan Spit and visit the beach – you won’t be disappointed!
Whether you stay overnight in Depoe Bay or not, get back in your car or on your motorcycle or motorhome or bicycle … you get the picture … and head further south.
You will pass through Beverly Beach State Park just north of Newport Oregon. If you are into camping, you will find a full R.V. hookup camping area – some of the camping sites even have cable TV! There are 50+ hook up sites, 125 tent sites and 21 yurts with 2 yurts pet friendly. This camping area has the most important feature of all – hot showers.
The beach area extends from Yaquina Head to the headlands of the Otter Rock.
If you get a chance, visit the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse located at 740 SW Government St. It is open seven days from 11AM till 4PM.
And if you want lodging, there is at least one hotel in Yaquina Bay just south of Newport.
On the other side of the Yaquina Bay is the Oregon Coast Aquarium – certainly a worthwhile stop. You can “Sleep With The Sharks” surrounded by more than a hundred sharks, halibuts, rays and other marine life if you dare!
Further down the road is Brian Booth State Park, Seal Rock State Wayside, Waldport, Yachats, Searose Beach, and Heceta Beach.
Once you reach Dunes City, Gardiner, Reedsport, Winchester Bay area you are in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. You will find miles and miles and miles of sand dunes. People travel from all over to recreate in this area – that includes driving motorized vehicles, so pay attention!
Once you have reached North Bay and Coos Bay, Highway 101 stays inland for awhile till you arrive at Bandon.
Side note: Coos Bay is the birth place of the late great American runner Steve “Pre” Prefontaine who sadly passed away at the tender age of 24 year old in Eugene Oregon.
Slightly off of Highway 101 further south is Cape Blanco which is a headland that forms the most western point in the state. You will find a prominent light house about 200 feet above the ocean. With its extreme ocean exposure, it is not uncommon for winter storms to have wind speeds in the 70 to 100 mile per hour range!
Looking for something to do at Cape Blanco? You can visit the lighthouse, go hiking, horseback riding, fishing, camping, and visit the beach.
Further south is Humbug Mountain State Park, dominated by Humbug Mountain at over 1700 feet above sea level. You’ll find camping available that includes electricity, tent sites, hot showers, flush toilets and hiker/biker sites.
Last big town before you are in California. When I say big I mean less than 10,000 people.
One place to absolutely visit is Harris Beach State Park just north of Brookings. Just off of the coast is the largest island on the Oregon coast. Bird Island is a National Wildlife Sanctuary that is a breeding site for rare birds like the tufted puffin. Don’t plan on visiting the island. Even if it is or was allowed, climbing up the rocky walls would be a challenge. Instead, explore the beach – absolutely beautiful!
California here we come. The final stop on the Oregon Highway 101 trip ironically ends in California’s north most coastal city, Crescent City.
Here you will find the Battery Point lighthouse, built in the 1850s. While Crescent City’s has an unique harbor, there is plenty of beach front lodging to enjoy this beautiful area.