For me camping is as essential to a bike tour as the actual biking is. I don’t know if I could ride without a tent, sleeping bag and kitchen set and still think it’s a tour. Luckily, with many campgrounds down the Pacific coast route, it could have been possible to camp every night.
Cheap too – almost all state campgrounds have “hiker-biker sites” available to campers without motor vehicles for the usual low price of $5/person (Washington and some California sites could be a more expensive 7 or $8 and one site, Samuel P. Taylor, charged us only $3 per person.) They varied in size with 3 to 5 picnic tables, a few fire pits and space for 5 to 10 tents, depending on how cozy you wanted to get with fellow campers.
Some hiker-biker sites seemed to have been added after their camps were established…as an afterthought. They were far from toilets, showers and water or in less desirable locations like next to a residential road (Devil’s Lake State Park). But at $5 can we complain? Only at 4am when awoken by nature calling. Otherwise the campgrounds were generally beautiful and given the early time of year, fairly quiet. So quiet in April that a few times, if it were later in the day and many were still free, we took the liberty of occupying larger and more expensive sites he he.
Out of 32 nights of the trip we camped 22 and two-thirds of the time, camped in state or county parks. Other times it was necessary to fork out the $15-20 to stay at private campgrounds or more appropriately, RV Resorts. These sites were like big grassy parking lots close to towns and roads. What scenery they might have had was lost among big hulking white boxes, wheels, plastic chairs and satellite TV dishes. Not exactly idyllic for a hiker-biker but I’ll hand it to them, they had dependably hot showers and sometimes even laundry. A place to think about if you need a clean-up break from camping but don’t want to shell out the money for a motel room.
Another way to “camp” with luxury or perhaps take cover on a rainy night was to stay in a yurt. Yurts are circular, wood lattice-framed structures covered with a very thick cloth material and available in a number of the Oregon state parks. Arriving in Honeyman Memorial State Park and not seeing a rainy day left in our Oregon forecast we decided to splurge the $39 on a yurt anyway (they’re a bit more treat than solution).
Our “rustic” yurt could sleep up to 5 people with a double/twin bunk bed, a futon, coffee table, small table and two chairs. No toilet or shower but a heater and light…luxury. A photo before panier contents explosion:
The yurt was great and I’m happy we tried it but I think next time I’ll save it for a rainy day. It was strange comfort without owls in the night, bird song at 5:30am and fresh air nipping the small portion of me exposed from my sleeping bag.
To otherwise summarize camping on the bike trip, I thought a sentence or two or three about each site would be appropriate so…
â€¨Fort Ebey State Park, WA
We couldn’t find it but the raccoons could. â€¨
Kitsap Memorial State Park, WA
I only remember being cold. And don’t try sleeping in the washrooms. They check them at night.
Offut Lake Resort, Tenino, WA
Don’t worry about buying beer in the last town because they sell it in the resort’s shop.
Scappoose RV Park, Scappoose, OR
Next to the airfield! Don’t worry, it’s not as bad (loud) as it sounds. They don’t fly at night. Donna the camp host is an awesome lady and there are llamas nearby!â€¨â€¨
Big Eddy County Park, Vernonia, OR
Hello? Anybody here? Hopefully they get more campers in the summer. Being the only site between Portland and Astoria, don’t want this one shutting down.
Nehalem Bay State Park, Nehalem, OR
I imagined the beach and surroundings would be beautiful but we kept shelter from the wind and rain.
Pacific Campground & RV Park, Tillamook, OR
Camp across from Tillamook Creamery hell ya!
Devils Lake State Park, Lincoln City, OR
City camping – ambiance lacking but the movie theatre was a short ride away!
South Beach State Park, South Beach, OR
Rumour has it there is a trail that leads from camp to the Rogue brewery. We couldn’t find that trail but we did find the brewery and some lovely trails for night riding afterwards.
Honeyman Memorial State Park, Florence, OR
A perfect landing pad to check out the dunes. Be prepared to be emptying shoes, shorts, tent, and panniers of sand during week following.
Umqua Lighthouse State Park, Reedsport, OR
Mosquitoes! Anna calls them mozzies and I call them skeetters; always found that funny. Could tell from ATV noise that dunes were still somewhere close by.
Bullards Beach State Park, Bandon, OR
Good place for studying southern Oregon society.
RV Park in Gold Beach, OR
No tent camping officially but they gave us a patch of grass. Around the corner from a huge bookstore / coffee shop ~ heaven!â€¨â€¨
Shoreline Campground, Crescent City, CA
Where we learned that in Northern Californian lighthouses have foghorns. Ugh. Torture.
Prairie Creek State Park
Perfect landing pad to check out the redwoods. Also where we first saw signs of cutbacks in California State Park amenities. Goodbye cushy Oregon camping.
KOA Eureka, Eureka, CA
Every state park camper groans about KOA campgrounds and everyone in Arcata groaned about KOA Eureka. It was a little weird that the hiker biker sites were in a backyard behind concrete buildings with only a fence, row of trees and some more yard separating it from the 101 but it wasn’t that bad. Besides, there were no other options in the area, especially on Humboldt University graduation weekend.
Humboldt County Fairgrounds, Ferndale, CA
Camping at fairgrounds? Spooky clowns dancing around my tent in the middle of the night? No. The occasional donkey bray waking me up? Yes. We met the most incredibly friendly people here. Everyone smiled and they convinced me that I have to ride the lost coast route some day. Maybe it was the 10-day late Cinco de Mayo celebration lifting the town’s spirits.
Richardson Grove State Park, Garberville, CA
I can’t remember this campground because all I was thinking about was the upcoming Leggett hill.
MacKerricher State Park, Fort Bragg, CA
Post-Leggett hill euphoria blinded me from anything remarkable about this site as well but it was close to the beach – bonus.
â€¨â€¨Bodega Dunes Campground, Bodega, CA
More dunes! Amazing landscape and a winning sunset.
Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Lagunitas, CA
I said farewell to the redwoods and reflected on the bike trip with the sound of 60 third graders singing campfire songs. And I learned that spare spokes make the *perfect* tool for roasting marshmallows.