Our first stop in Oregon was at Fort Stevens State Park, which is located in the far northwest corner of the state where the Columbia River meets the Pacific.
Fort Stevens is a huge park. And when I say huge I’m talking 500 sites situated on 10 camping loops, along with 11 cabins and 15 yurts. And that’s just the camping area. Also included in the park’s 4,200 acres is a historic military site, a freshwater lake, tons of hiking and biking trails, and of course miles and miles of beach. You would think a campground this size would feel…well kind of zooish. It really didn’t though. The way the loops are laid out was very organized and even though the campground was almost full when we showed up on Saturday afternoon it was very quiet at night. On Sunday tons of people left and by Tuesday morning we were practically the only ones left in our loop. I guess that’s pretty common at the Oregon State Parks this time of year. Full on the weekends, empty during the week. Because of that we’ve had to break our usual routine of only planning a few days ahead. On Monday I made a made a reservation for the following weekend at Cape Lookout State Park. Good thing because there were only two open sites left.
After perusing the park review on the Wheeling It blog we choose a spot in loop O because it was the most open and sunny of the loops. We stayed in a few really dark and wooded campgrounds while in the Olympic National Park and this time we were ready for some light. Also with the temps only in the low to mid 60s this time of year the sun is kind of essential for staying warm. You can see by the photo that loop O is really open with not much privacy between the sites. While we often don’t like this kind of camping, the amount of space between each site makes up for the lack of privacy, and did I mention the sun? We walked through most of the other loops and found more trees, but not much more privacy, so I think we made a good choice.
The main highlight of the park is the nearly 15 miles of gorgeous sandy beach. On Sunday afternoon we followed one of the park’s well maintained walking/biking trails down to the water. After walking through some thick trees the forest gave way to dunes covered in this intriguing spiky green plant that looks like a cross between a grass and a shrub. I searched the internet but never could figure out what it was.
A bit farther down the path the sound of the ocean rushed in, and then we were there. All traces of forest disappeared and the most beautiful stretch of wide open beach came into view.
Unlike the beaches in Washington which stun you with their towering sea stacks and huge drift logs, this beach is wide open. There were a few logs scattered about against the dunes, but other than that it was nothing but sand and water.
Besides the beach itself, many people come here to check out the shipwreck on the shore.
The remnants of this ship have been here since 1906 when it ran aground. Today only a fraction of the hull is left stranded on the beach.
Fort Stevens is the first of many Oregon State parks that we plan to visit. The entire coast is lined with parks, some for day use and some for camping. If this first stop is any indication than we’re in for a real treat!