Fort Stevens State Park
Fort Stevens State Park is more than a historic military site. There are plenty of things to do while camping. Discover the Peter Iredale shipwreck, play on Oregon beaches, swim in Coffenbury Lake, hike the Oregon Coast Trail, bike through beautiful scenery and more.
Camping at Fort Stevens State Park is one of our favorite summer family vacations. We just returned home from a 7-day camping trip that was chock full of all of our favorite things to do in Oregon.
Camping Activities for Kids
Our kids loved participating in the Junior Ranger program. The program's goal is to help children have fun in the outdoors while they learn about Oregon parks and resources. Both boys received a passport and activity booklet. Each time they completed an activity page, they could have their passport stamped by a park host or ranger. The kids completed Level 1 and earned a badge and learned the J.R. Beaver secret greeting. (I'd tell you what the greeting is, but, well, it's a secret.) After two more family trips to participating Oregon campgrounds, they can earn a patch and certificate.
Our kids - along with dozens of others - also enjoyed the playground area. They quickly found friends and made up several games using the playground equipment.
Fort Stevens State Park Bike Paths
Fort Stevens State Park has more than seven beautiful miles of paved bike paths. Bikes were our transportation method of choice within the park and crusing the trails was one of our favorite parts of the trip. We rode around the various campsite loops, to and from the beach, to and from the museum and everywhere in between.
Hiking in Fort Stevens State Park
Hikers will see Sitka spruce, shore pine, western hemlock, red alder and cascara buckthorn. Small trees and shrubs include pacific red elder, Oregon crabapple, coast rhododendron, red huckleberry, box blueberry, English holly, salmonberry and salal. The ground cover is patched with horsetail, skunk cabbage, and a variety of ferns.
And don't forget your binoculars, as wildlife abounds. We saw deer, rabbits, coyotes, all kinds of birds, squirrels and raccoons.
Fort Stevens State Park History Lessons
The Fort Stevens Military Reservation guarded the mouth of the Columbia River for 84 years from the Civil War through World War II. The concrete gun batteries that were constructed during this time period still remain on site and can be toured on foot or via military truck. They're fascinating! During WWII, a Japanese submarine shelled Fort Stevens. The men stationed at the batteries were ready and willing to return fire but were not given the command to do so. There is much controversy and mystery surrounding the incident.
The park also hosts a Civil War Reenactment over Labor Day weekend.
The "Peter Iredale" was a steel ship from England on its way to Portland to pick up a load of wheat when it wrecked near the mouth of the Columbia River. The remains of the shipwreck are still visable on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park.
Oregon Coast Camping Tips and Hints
If you've never camped on the coast, these camping tips and hints will help make your trip an enjoyable experience.
Coastal camping is wet. Even if (or rather, "when") it's not raining, the air is moist and it's common to feel a constant misting, especially at night and in the mornings.
Areas Surrounding Fort Stevens State Park
Once you've finished exploring Fort Stevens State Park, there are plenty of other fun, interesting and educational things to do in the surrounding areas.
Astoria is historically important as the first permanent American settlement west of the Mississippi. There are more buildings on the National Historic Register per square foot than anywhere else in Oregon. Visit the Columbia Maritime Museum, Astoria Column or Flavel House, grab fish and chips at the Bow Picker while enjoying stunning views of the Columbia River, then ride the Riverfront Trolley. And that's just the beginning.
Fort Clatsop National Memorial features a replica of the fort in which the Lewis and Clark expedition spent the winter of 1805-06. The center features ranger-led program, re-enactors in the fort and trailheads for the Fort to Sea Trail and Netul River Trail.
Ecola State Park is just north of Cannon Beach and a prime spot for whale watching and tide-pooling.
With so much to do and see, is it any wonder that we're already planning a trip for next year? We look forward to making a visit to the Oregon Coast an annual tradition for our family.
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