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Oregon's northwestern corner is home to Saddle Mountain, a looming landmark that has become somewhat of a favorite haunt amongst local hikers. Residing within Saddle Mountain State Natural Area, it can be accessed from both highway 53 and highway 26. The larger cities of Portland and Salem provide direct access to the park in less than two hours, but its most easily reached from the coastal town of Cannon Beach.
Despite its now seemingly undisturbed nature, Saddle Mountain State Natural Area's history is surprisingly varied. The land was presented to the government in 1916 but was not designated a state park until 12 years later. This was short-lived, however, as the Civilian Conservation Corps took the park over during the Great Depression. Later on, in 1935, the land was given back to the state and reformed to its former beauty as a place of rest and relaxation. When you book an RV in Clatsop County, you'll be in a prime position to explore the hiking trails in the park, discover it's unique flora and witness a few of its majestic wildlife species.
Camping at Saddle Mountain State Natural Area is all about the mountain, the mountain's flora, the mountain's fauna, and, most importantly, the mountain's hikes. Rising 3,280 feet above sea level, Saddle Mountain is considered to be the highest point in the Northern Coast Range. It's no surprise then, that hikers from all over the state rent a camper near Saddle Mountain State Natural Area to make their way to the top and catch a glimpse of the breath-taking views.
The main trail that leads to the top of the mountain is a five-mile-loop, also known as the Saddle Mountain Trail. This steep hike is not for everyone, despite its well-maintained and well-signposted path. Rising for 1,650 feet, visitors will be expected to navigate forests, clamber across rocks, and find their way to the top of steep rocky outcrops. Three viewpoints along the way, including the summit, offer 360-degree views out across the Columbia River, Pacific shoreline, and the Cascade Mountains and make the challenging hike all the more worth it.
Those after a more leisurely activity can opt for the shorter 0.3mile-long trail, known as Humbug Mountain Viewpoint Trail. To find the trailhead, you'll need to walk for about 0.25 miles along the main path before a junction marks the beginning of your diversion. As well as leading walkers to a stunning viewpoint of the surrounding mountains, this is also a fantastic opportunity to learn about the native flora and fauna in the area.
It's worth taking the time to appreciate your surroundings during the hike, especially if you've got an RV rental near Saddle Mountain State Natural Area during spring. The grounds are home to unique wildflowers, including Pacific Trillium and Pink Fawn Lilies, that pepper the hillsides with vibrant blossoms and attract a plethora of butterflies, birds, and other animals. Another flora to look out for is Sitka Spring, Noble Firs, and Western Hemlock, all of which make up the forests along the trail. If you're fortunate, you might even catch a glimpse of the herd of elk that occasionally roam through the park – just remember to keep your distance!
Saddle Mountain State Natural Area is home to a small campground, which can accommodate your RV rental. This very simple set-up has absolutely no amenities and simply acts as a place to rest your head before an early-get up to start the hike. There are just ten spaces to choose from, so you may want to arrive relatively early to guarantee a spot.
For something a little more well-equipped, travelers will need to head towards the coast. Scattered between Cannon Beach and Gearhart, there are ample campsite to choose from. Circle Creek RV Park comes highly rated and is just a twenty-minute drive from Saddle Mountain. Open 365 days of the years; campers can choose from 44 full hookup sites, which include access to cable TV and WiFi. Unfortunately, there are no communal washroom facilities here, so if you're not motorhome camping in a self-contained vehicle, it's worth looking elsewhere.
When you need a change of pace while RV camping at Saddle Mountain State Natural Area, Oregon's cultural capital is just a ninety-minute drive away. Home to a large zoo, plenty of museums, and even a botanical garden, there's more than enough to keep you busy in Portland for even a couple of days.
Oregon Zoo is a guaranteed day of fun for the whole family. Opened in 1888, it's considered to be one of the oldest zoos to lie west of the Mississippi River. Since its opening, it's built up a healthy repertoire of animals that now reside in its 64-acre grounds. Included in its 1,800 large population are monkeys from the African Rainforest, Amur Cats from Asia, Humboldt Penguins from South America, and polar bears from the Arctic Circle.
Enjoy a bit of history during your Saddle Mountain State Natural Area camping trip with a visit to the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Formerly the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay fur trading company, the site later became integral in delivering political, cultural, and commercial guidance in the Pacific Northwest. Nowadays, it's possible to take a guided tour around the grounds and learn all about the stories that happened between its walls.
Housing an impressive 42,000 works of art, the Portland Art Museum is a must-visit for any art lovers camping with an RV nearby. The center focuses on Native American art as well as Asian art and contemporary works from local artists. If the sun is shining, pop outside into the garden to check out the impressive collection of sculptures.