Driving the Pacific Coast Highway, Who's Done It?

Stephen

Who Dares Wins
Supporting Member
Trip Leader
I got married on New Years Eve (in what was probably the last large party the world will ever know). My wife is a teacher, so we planned to take our honeymoon this summer after classes were over and we booked a three week trip to the UK and France. Since then the world ended and everything we wanted to do was shut down with no reopening date and our flights were canceled by the airlines. After considering our options, we've settled on a 16 day road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to Vancouver (Assuming we can cross the Canadian boarder). This has been a bucket list item for both of us for years, so while its not the honeymoon we dreamed of, it'll still be fun.
We're starting in San Diego because my wife has always wanted to stay in the Hotel del Coronado and its $350/night cheaper at the end of June when we're starting our trip than it is in July when we're ending; which is NUTS. Also, I'd rather knock out the dull city driving early and enjoy the Olympic Peninsula at the end.

So, who's driven the PCH before, all or part, and what are some highlights/recommendations?
 

Tonkaman

Well-Known Member
Location
West Jordan
I’ve done the whole thing between San Diego and Astoria a couple times. For some reason the plan has never worked out to go north of Oregon.

The drive is amazing! There are plenty of lighthouses, blowholes, capes, and forests to be found. Definitely take extra time stopping into the redwood and sequoia parks! There are many different parks and each have their own special appeal.

My big concern is if the area will be re-opened by the time you leave. The state parks really have a tight grasp on most of the cool stuff so keep an eye on them.

We typically end up in little boutique motels or B&B type places. I like doing that so we don’t need to follow a hard agenda, it’s typically easy to just show up and ask for a room.
 

4x4_Welder

Well-Known Member
Location
Twin Falls, ID
I've done the Olympic peninsula loop a bunch of times. It's awesome.
My daily driver for three years was an Alfa Romeo 164, until someone ran into it and now I'm stuck dealing with the insurance company. One of my plans once it's back on the road is to drive the PCH, but heading south. Just the ability to say that I drove the PCH in an Alfa Romeo would be an interesting bragging right.
 

Kevin B.

Big hippy
Location
Stinkwater
The Oregon coast is my jam, so siddown and buckle up. Northern Cal and southern Oregon are fairly empty (by Oregon coast standards anyway) between Eureka and Coos Bay with little towns here and there, north of north of Coos Bay it starts to get a little thicker and by the time you get to Florence you are well and truly in tourist country. Everything north of Newport is basically one long strip town until you get to Astoria, with massive amounts of kite stores and bed & breakfasts and kitchy art shops everywhere.

Highlights are the redwood forests, natch, do lots of hiking there because those things are way cool. My home turf is kinda the section between Florence and Newport so that's what I know the most about. The dunes just south of Florence are a great place to rent dune buggies, which is wicked fun. Everybody will tell you eat at Moes, but f*ck that tourist trap, it's highly overrated. In Florence, I like the Bridgewater Fish House for funky seafood and the Blue Hen Cafe for comfort food. In Newport, you eat at The Chowder Bowl for awesome seafood (I order a captains platter and a big bowl of chowder, and I don't eat again until next day) and if you're still there the next day you grub at Nanas Irish Pub for killer sausage rolls and decent beers. Whale tours are fun if it's the right time of year. The beach and lighthouse at Heceta Head are favorites (actually, every lighthouse is a favorite, check out every one you have time for but Yaquina Head and Cape Mears are also not to be missed). If the tide is right, the Devils Churn is a fun waterspout. The Hobbit Trail is a cool hike. The beaches and tide rocks are Strawberry Hill are cool. The visitor center at Cape Perpetua is cool. Shell mounds are easy to find, and some of the only physical signs that the area was once populated by coastal Native American tribes everywhere. Neptune Viewpoint has one of my favorites, and is another cool beach for beachcombing and cool rocks and such. Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach has good tidepools, but there's lots of others. Plan to visit one at low-low tide if you can, they're a hoot. Newport has the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the Ripley's Believe It Or Not wax museum that was really awesome when I was ten but I haven't been since so might be cool or might not? Tillamook has the Octopus Tree which is neat, and a tour of the Tillamook Creamery is a must. Everything between there and Astoria is a bit of a blur of coffee joints and wind chime shops that I've never paid much attention to, but Astoria has a ton of history - check out Fort Stevens and the wreck of the Piper Iredale for sure, but there's tons more around too. And mostly, take your time and hit every turnout and state park and wide spot in the road you feel like. It's all awesome, it's all worth exploring. And take turns driving, because especially between Florence and Newport is scenic as all **** and also a twisty turny narrow road full of rubberneckers that you must pay attention to.

There are some chances at primitive camping south of Florence if you drive up into the mountains a little, there is none north of there. You gotta pay at an established campground if you want to camp on/near the beach.

Here's some light history reading if you're into that sort of thing - https://sos.oregon.gov/archives/exhibits/coast-tour/Pages/default.aspx
 

shortstraw8

Active Member
What @Kevin B. said.

We went from Florence up to Astoria, stayed a week in Lincoln City and checked out all the touristy places and the beach. Lots of cool light houses, devils churn is awesome and a really cool tide pool area. Get some fresh salt water taffy in Florence, Tillamook is a must if you like ice cream and cheese. There is a Sea Lion cave which was fun, no sea lions in September but really fun ride 100' (I think) down in the cliff side.
In Astoria there is the Goonies house (I believe it is a must to do the truffle shuffle in front of the sign), and Jail (The Fratellis XJ is out front). The drive from Astoria to Seattle is pretty cool, lots of logging and odd little towns throughout. My wife was born in Canada, we have been up there a handful of times Vancouver is cool, good food throughout. If my media server was on I would throw up a few pics but I think you can't go wrong, we wanted to hit redwoods this year with the kids and go back up through Oregon on our way home. If you have a tent and can beach camp it or KOA that was the cheapest I found.
 

BlackSheep

baaaaaaaaaad to the bone
Super Moderator
Supporting Member
Keep an eye on this if you plan on dispersed camping on the beaches or whatever:

Oregon shuts down dispersed camping

I've done all of it except the Olympic Peninsla at different times. I do recommend taking your time. Stay as close to the coast as you can. Highway 1 breaks away from the coast in Northern California and you'll transition to Hwy 101 unless you choose to stay on some smaller roads.
 

Hickey

Premium Member
Supporting Member
I've spent a fair amount of time in that area. The wimmins all love Cannon Beach, but after my second time going there I would say **** that place. The most crowded spot on the entire coast.

Expect the entire coast to be cold, then be surprised if it isn't.

All of the lighthouses are awesome. Cape Mears, Hacita Head.734109BE-9C6C-43B0-9CC9-FE50A3CA304A.jpeg


Banden was neat.

Tillamook is worth it for the cheese factory and the super-bitchin air museum in the WWII blimp hangar.
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Fort Stevens State park is one of our all-time favorite places in Oregon. Some interesting WWII history there as well. Cheap camping and incredible facilities. EAC6326C-C799-447F-8467-8638EFEF7EB0.jpeg7E866462-DD31-43F2-B6EA-5ED63AB1784E.jpeg7B803F90-4AD9-47B8-BCC2-1F399A2F2FE2.jpeg

Fish and chips at the Grizzly Tuna shack in Seaside

Trees Of Mystery in Northern California is another favorite place because WHO DOESN'T LOVE HUGE REDWOODS, PAUL BUNYAN, AND BABE?
AC88DF39-E0B1-4E39-8638-033BF9DAC4EC.jpegCB1A0211-C1B0-4512-8158-B90F59089232.jpeg

Astoria is cool, and right across the bridge from Fort Stevens. Lots of cool and accessible Goonies filming locations there.
C180B5D2-9906-4A63-BAE3-9535256BBBD2.jpeg

The Sea Hag for clam chowder in Depoe Bay.
 

Kiel

Formerly WJ ZUK
I used to spend a couple weeks a year as a kid in the Olympic peninsula salmon fishing every summer. Sekui Washington, crescent lake, sol duc hot springs, left me know if any of those peak interest. I always thought taking the ferry across pugent sound was rad.
 

Rot Box

Diesel and Dust
Location
Smithfield Utah
I’ve driven the coast from Astoria to Crater Lake with my wife and daughter when she was around 18 months old. Still one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever had—we still talk about it. Can’t wait to go back hopefully next year or something.
 

ID Bronco

Registered User
Location
Idaho Falls, ID
Our family did this a couple of weeks ago and used much of the information in this thread to assist us in our planning and execution. Thanks to Hickey, Shortstraw8 and Kevin B.

The coast was cool. I was stoked to see Mt. Hood up close but it was packed with clouds and rained nearly the entire time we were nearby. The coast was beautiful, we loved the tide pools and such. We ventured down into the Redwood National Forest and I really enjoyed our time there. I also loved Crater Lake.

Gas was between $5.29 (Oregon) and $6.79 (Commufornia) There seems to be a shortage of Diet Mt. Dew in both states, tough to find in a bottle and next to impossible in fountain. I should have known.

Here are a few random pics: 20220601_102318.jpg20220601_105036.jpg20220601_111557.jpg20220601_111322.jpg20220602_214849.jpg20220529_182343.jpg20220529_204404.jpg

And the best shot of Mt. Hood while we were there: haha

20220529_205824.jpg20220604_092258.jpg

Takeaway's: Fern Canyon was awesome. Old growth forests are much more impressive than I expected, but second growth was just alright. The coast is very beautiful, Portland is dump and there are way too many people traveling in Oregon with dogs.
 

shortstraw8

Active Member
Looks like a fun trip, we had planned a family up the coast rv trip. Tahoe for a few days then out to the coast and up into the redwoods and out, hopefully next summer is better for that cause I would like to spend more time up through there also.
 

nnnnnate

Well-Known Member
Location
WVC, UT
I told me wife last night I wanted to go back soon. I was attempting to justify the purchase of a camp trailer at the time, but my desire to return there stands. We didn't go to the fern canyon because we took our dog with us so that's high on my list.
 

ID Bronco

Registered User
Location
Idaho Falls, ID
I paid attention to what it would be like with a camp trailer since we have one and lodging was pretty expensive. You would need time to get into the area you want to be in, then set up the trailer and then go explore. Most stops were not large vehicle/trailer friendly. It would not have worked for us since we were driving part of every day and kind of stopping wherever it looked cool.

I'd recommend Fern Canyon, we actually did a pretty significant hike in that area. (partially because we got mixed up) It is like stepping back to Jurassic times.
 
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