4 Day Pacific Northwest Road Trip

4 Day Pacific Northwest Road Trip
4 Day Pacific Northwest Road Trip

After a four hour call with my husband today (deployment life, y’all), I looked at the calendar and truly realized for the first time how much of 2017 has gone by. Summer is nearly half over and fall will be upon us, especially in Washington, in no time.

Considering how angsty my last post and the last few days have been, I took a moment to remember how many AMAZING things I’ve done so far this year.

January 

– Girl’s weekend in Austin

February

– Woodinville wineries for Galentine’s weekend

– President’s day weekend spent exploring Washington with a college friend

March

– Playa del Carmen, Mexico

April

– Omaha, Nebraska

– Minnesota

May

– Mobile, AL & Pensacola, FL

– A handful of hikes around Washington

June

– Laguna Beach

July

– PNW Road Trip: Washington + Oregon + California

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And that’s just half the year, and doesn’t even include M coming home!!! 2017, regardless of what else happens, you’ve been damn good to me. 

One of my favorite parts of this year to date was my most recent trip around the Pacific Northwest with my roommate/best friend.

Funny story about how this trip came to fruition. In January of this year after The Mr. had officially deployed and I was feeling particularly lonely and discouraged, I started to plan – obsessively. Any one who knows me knows I have a strange need to constantly plan things. I plan vacations, weekends, parties, my errand schedule that evening, the next 8 years of my life, etc. It’s an illness.

Well in January, I randomly decided to plan and book campsites at two bucket list destinations of mine in the Pacific Northwest for 4th of July weekend. I booked a campsite at Crater Lake and a campsite at the Redwoods. I then proceeded to go on about 10 other trips (see above) and completely forgot I’d ever booked these until early June when I had this faint memory (and thankfully credit card receipt) of these camp sites.

I asked the roomie. The roomie was down. In a two week window I planned the camping check list and meal planned (are you seeing a theme yet?), and then we went on our way.

 

We left at 4:30 am on Saturday, July 1. Road tripped and camped for 4 days and 3 nights. We visited 2 national parks and 2 state parks and as you’ll see from the above map added the ONLY In-N-Out in Oregon to our route because, of course.

Campgrounds

Mazama Village Campground in Crater Lake National Park 

Mazama Village Campground

Pros: Basically as close as you can stay to Crater Lake. Large campground with all the amenities you could need (a general store, a restaurant, the visitor’s center, gas, etc.). Nice size sites and good ground for tent set up. Bear containers for food.

Neutral: Fellow campers are close by. I would argue this could be a pro or a con depending on your fear of wildlife and annoyance at a true “outdoor experience”.

Cons: Bear containers for food = bears. There was still a few feet of drifted snow around our campsite in July. The only campground we really had to deal with mosquitoes. Plumbing of their indoor toilers was an issue throughout the whole campground the morning we left…

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Jedediah Smith State Park Campground. So beautiful.

Pros: This was my favorite campground. It was like a mystical, fairy forest. There are redwoods throughout the entire campground (one was at our site!) and the sunshine pouring through these massive trees rising to the heavens created the most whimsical lighting while camping. Medium sized campground with less amenities but Crescent City is 10 miles away. Great site & ground for tent. Best bathrooms + SHOWERS. On the gorgeous Smith River with an adorable rocky beach. A perfect spot to set camp as you explore the Redwoods and Northern California coastline.

Cons: Again, a bear container because there can be bear activity. Minimal bugs. A couple at a nearby campsite had zero respect for how loud they were being late into the evening or the next morning. No details necessary, but there were kids at this campsite. Like – come on.

Alder Dune Campground

Alder Dune Campground + The only one of us who can make a fire (that’s not me)

Pros: The most private campsite we had with our own little driveway and trees hiding us from our neighbors. No bear containers. Trails from the campground directly to the dunes. It’s a very small campground and felt a lot less busy/crowded than the other two.

Cons: Very windy when we first got there, which may or may not be a theme on this part of the Oregon Coast. The ground was also a little tough drive the stakes into. We had a nice cold beer after we finally managed to set the tent up here. Toilets are outhouses and there are no sinks/mirrors/showers.

Just for you mom & dad

National & State Parks

 

Smith Rock State Park I’ve visited before, but just love the incredible views and the uniqueness of the terrain, so had to share with my roommate. We explored this park to break up our 7 hour drive to Crater Lake the first day.

Crater Lake National Park was a dream. So much more incredible than all the photos I’ve seen of it. Coming up on the first view of the lake completely takes your breath away. It’s in the middle of nowhere and there are just a couple of one lane roads in and out of the park, so make sure you have everything you need (water, gas) and what direction you’re headed.

Note: A man actually died at Crater Lake the weekend we were visiting because he was scrambling out on rocks overlooking the lake. There are signs and rock walls all over to prevent you from getting too close to the edge. TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY. The caldera is a cliff and a free fall. Don’t try and get the best picture of the lake by ignoring the rangers.

 

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park may have been my favorite park. I wanted to pick Crater Lake due to its sheer beauty, but the Redwoods were so much less crowded and honestly, just magical. The size of the Redwoods were beyond my wildest imagination, and the effect they created in the forest below with the lighting was so incredible. Exploring the Howland Hill Road at 6pm was perfect because most of the traffic had dissipated and it felt like we were alone in this wildly unique forest. I kept saying how it felt like we were in the Lord of the Rings. I was waiting for an elf to jump out.

Siltcoos Beach in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. I am actually not sure if this was a state or national park. I wanted to love the pretty dunes, but it was SO INSANELY WINDY. We could barely stand once we were on the other side of the dunes. The wind gusts were practically blowing us over and it must have dropped 10+ degrees. We maybe spent 5 minutes here, and I am pretty sad about that. If it works out to go again while I still live in the PNW, I’d like to redo this park. We’d also spent 3 exhausting days driving, exploring Crater Lake, the Redwoods, and the Oregon coastline. I think we were just exhausted by the time we reached this park and weren’t willing to deal with the wind.

Camping List & Meal Plan

 

If you use this camping list or meal plan for your own camping trip or for reference, let me know in the comments! My dream job is to plan vacations. Except it’s 2017 and we have the internet, so my dreams of being a travel agent have long since passed. But I’ll still find some personal joy if any of you find my obsessive planning of value.

Now after that mouthful of a post, I’m off to enjoy the limited sunshine the PNW has to offer this weekend.

xo,

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