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As a major stop along the Three Capes Scenic Route, Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area has become a popular haunt on Oregon’s northern coast. Two other scenic spots, Cape Lookout and Cape Mears can also be found along the route, with Cape Kiwanda being the most northerly of them all. Known best of all for its towering dunes and unique sandstone headlands, it’s a must-see for those who book an RV in Tillamook County.
Found just north of Pacific City, campers heading along Oregon’s coastal road will have no problem finding Cape Kiwanda. Otherwise, the nearby cities of Salem or Portland provide direct access to this sunny spot on the coast in under two hours. There’s plenty of ways to enjoy camping at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, from catching some excellent surf to hiking your way to the top of the cape, taking an exciting drive along the beach to simply soaking up some sunshine, the choice is all yours.
It’s simply not possible to go on a Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area camping trip without taking a moment to admire the grand cape and its accompanying sandstone formations. While this can be done from the beach, hiking to the top of the cape provides much more rewarding views. Beginning at the Pacific Avenue Trailhead, the 2.5-mile Cape Kiwanda Trail takes walkers along the dunes, down to the beach, and eventually to the top of the cape. On your adventures, keep a lookout for Haystack Rock rising from the sea, fossils hidden beneath the sandstone you’re walking along, or even a grey whale or two heading past during their migration to warmer waters. Keen hikers might want to extend their walk to include the Nestucca Spit Loop, which covers an area of inland forest, diverse wetlands, and miles of Sitka spruce.
With some of the best surf along the Oregon coastline, don’t forget to pack your board and wetsuit when you rent a camper near Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. What makes the waves so special here, are the unique curls they create as they roll past the natural breaker that is Haystack Rock. Waves here are best suited for intermediates due to the unpredictability of the winds and swells in the water – beginners may want to consider heading a little further north for some steadier waves and smaller beach breaks.
It’s not uncommon to witness sea kayakers exploring the waters around Haystack Rock and other rock formations. Many come to catch a glimpse of the many Puffin species that nest here throughout the year, especially during spring and summer. Sea kayaking can be tough, so if you’re looking for a more leisurely afternoon of paddling, the Nestucca River is home to plenty of sheltered waterways that are easily navigated by kayak. Those who aren’t motorhome camping with their own boating equipment in tow will find several rental outlets in Pacific City.
RV camping at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is easy thanks to three RV-friendly parks that sit just moments away. In fact, Webb County Campground, Hart’s Camp, and Cape Kiwanda RV Park are all a five-minute walk away from the cape.
Although the most expensive of the three, Cape Kiwanda RV Park is the most well equipped for RV-users, offering full hookups for all of its guests along with an on-site swimming pool, free WiFi, and laundry facilities. Unfortunately, for those not traveling in a self-contained RV rental, there are no washroom facilities here. Communal toilets, showers, and kitchenette facilities can be found at Hart’s Camp, along with a swimming beach, free WiFi, and general store. For something a little more budget-friendly, consider popping over to the slightly more rustic Webb County Campground. Here, partial hookups are available, but you’ll need to reserve these in advance to guarantee one of the 16 sites.
Campers heading back east after their trip have the chance to stop off in Oregon's capital city, Salem. It's a town that is well known for its witch trials that took place in the 17th century, with plenty of cultural attractions centered around this haunting past.
Built-in the 15th century, the spooky Witch House is one of the best places to visit to gain an overview of why, how, and when these trials took place. In fact, it's the last remaining building in Salem that is known to have direct connections with the trials. The building itself was once the home of Jonathon Corwin, one of the judges who decided the fate of the women involved in the famous 1692 witch trials. The house can be visited on a guided or self-guided tour and is open from Thursday to Sunday.
To continue your witch hunt, the Salem Witch Museum is just a short walk away. Slightly different from your average museum, visitors are treated to interactive performances and expertly guided tours to provide a more immersive experience. Firstly, guests will sit down to watch a live theatre show that tells the story of the Salem witch-hunt with terrifying costumes and spectacular backdrops. Secondly, visitors will be treated to a guided tour that delves into the world of witch-hunting around the globe.
When you're looking for a break from all of the witchcraft and wizardry, try the Peabody Essex Museum, which holds one of the largest collections of Asian artwork in North America, at just over 1.2 million pieces in total. Along with these artworks from the east, visitors can peruse the African art galleries, teeming with pottery, woven baskets, and icons and American galleries, featuring more 1,000 portraits, furniture, and tapestry by native artists.