Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park is a superb spot with easy access to the Pacific Ocean, lots of activities, and 54 campsites for your rig that boast full or partial hookups. Located 14 miles north of Florence, Oregon, the state park is situated in a heavily forested area along U.S. Highway 101, also known as the Oregon Coast Highway. The state park was created in 1962 with a land grant from Narcissa Washburne Estate and was named after her husband, former the Oregon highway commissioner Carl G. Washburne. The state park has more than 1,000 acres of land which includes the historic Heceta Head Lighthouse which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The area around Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park was the original homeland of the Siuslaw Indian Tribe. Folklore of the tribe believed the area is where the Animal People constructed stone walls (now cliffs) to trick the grizzly bear into falling over the cliffs. The tribe first encountered European settlers in the late 18th century when Spanish explorer Bruno de Heceta entered the region. In 1888, other settlers came to the area and established the Heceta Head Lighthouse in the early 1890s.
Today, Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park is a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts. There are a plethora of activities that include surf fishing, water sports, hiking, wildlife viewing, and exploring the old lighthouse. The campground is situated a short distance from the Pacific Ocean in a heavily forested area with 54 campsites that feature full or partial hookups which are ideal for campers.
The weather at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park is excellent for rigs with summertime temperatures in the high 60s accompanied by up to two inches of rain per month. Winter time brings plenty of rain with up to 12 inches per month and temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s.
RVs can access Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park at mile post 176 along U.S. Highway 101, also known as the Oregon Coast Highway. Rigs traveling north to the state park from Florence will encounter typical coastline driving with undulating terrain that is steep at times. There are a couple of challenging areas where hairpin turns may force you to use a pull-out to allow for steady traffic flow along the highway. The areas are located north and south of the Sea Lion Caves along the highway. After you navigate the last hairpin near Heceta Head Lighthouse, the road straightens until you reach mile post 176.
For RVs traveling south from Yachats, you will also encounter typical coastline driving with undulating terrain and several hairpins just after you exit from Yachats. When you reach Searose Beach, the highway straightens out until you exit into the state park. Once inside the state park, you might encounter congestion within the campground near the yurts and tent campsites. The day use area located on the west side of the highway will also be congested, and you will need patience when dumping your holding tank. Remember to share the road at all times with pedestrians, bicyclists, and children playing near their campsites. Please adhere to all posted speed limits within the state park.
The Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park Campground is situated along two loops connected by one road and contains 40 campsites furnished with full hookups and an additional 14 campsites that offer electricity and water. The campground is located on the east side of U.S. Highway 101 next to China Creek which flows through part of the campground. Campsites are well protected from the weather in a heavily forested area and offer privacy. The campground is approximately one-half mile from the beach which can be reached by numerous trails that travel under U.S. Highway 101. Each campsite features a fire ring, picnic table, and gravel parking pad which may require leveling. Rigs are limited to 50 feet in length and not all campsites can accommodate larger campers. There is a dump station within the day use area which is on the west side of U.S. Highway 101. Please do not dump full holding tanks at campsites that are furnished with sewer hookups. Other facilities within the campground include a children’s sand box, showers, flush toilets, and water spigots. Generators may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Pets must be restrained by a six-foot leash at all times. Campers should beware of food storage at all times in the summer months. There is an occasional black bear that may roam through the campground looking for food.
You should make sure you pack your rod and reel in your camper before visiting Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. You will find plenty of space for surf fishing to be had along the three mile stretch of sand. While fishing, you can expect to catch loads of surf perch during the spring and summer months, along with opportunities to bag a salmon or steelhead too. Please check the Oregon state fishing regulations for bag and size limits.
You definitely need to pack a pair of good hiking boots in your camper when you visit the state park. The state park offers numerous hiking trails including the Hobbit Trail which is one-half mile long and takes you from the campground to the beach. Another choice is the Valley Trail which takes you along China and Blowout Creeks and through second-growth forests. As you walk you find numerous unique features from wildflowers to lily ponds to brilliantly colored moss. A more advanced trail to try is the seven mile hike to Heceta Head Lighthouse where you will be rewarded with tremendous views of the Pacific Ocean.
Although there is no boat ramp at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park, you will still find plenty of exciting water sports options. If you brought your kayak or canoe in your rig, then take a short walk from the campground or day use area to the beach and launch your water craft. Paddling along the coastline gives you an excellent opportunity to view the natural landscape from an incredible spot on the water. Other options for water fun include swimming and you can always ride your wind surf while taking advantage of the constant winds that roll in from the Pacific Ocean.
Beach combing is an ideal thing to do in Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. There is more than three miles of sandy shoreline for you to explore while looking for interesting shells, clams, and unique pieces of drift wood. While you are walking the beach, you can expect numerous tide pools during low tide which are brimming with sea life. Make sure before setting out on the beach to check the local tide charts for the best options during low tides. Always beware during high tide of waves and logs rolling onto the shoreline.
Pack your binoculars in your rig to take advantage of some excellent wildlife watching. There is a diverse ecosystem within the state park that is beautiful to see in their natural habitat. Whether you are hiking one of the many trails, watching from the lighthouse, or sitting one beach you can expect to see an assortment of wildlife and marine life. Animals you might be able to watch include Roosevelt elk, an occasional black bear, and during the winter months you can see humpback whales migrating south in the Pacific Ocean to Baja California. The area is also a nesting area for the western snowy plow, so be sure to watch for signs and don’t disrupt their nests.
A great thing to do in Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park is to take a hike up to the Heceta Head Lighthouse. Perhaps the most photographed lighthouse along the Oregon coastline, the Heceta Head Lighthouse was constructed in the early 1890s. The lighthouse sits 205 feet above the water projecting light some 21 nautical miles over the Pacific Ocean. The lighthouse is designated a State Scenic Viewpoint and in 1978 the lighthouse and keeper’s house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are ranger led interpretive programs throughout the year for you to enjoy while visiting this one-of-a-kind historical place.