Next week we have the fun of bringing in the new year and will be looking forward to the summer vacation coming in a few months. If you are planning a trip to the Oregon coast and plan to travel in an RV or take tents, it will be time to make reservations for that stay. You can make those reservations at reserveamerica.com. Reservations for prime time (summer) need to be made in advance, as campgrounds are popular destinations along the beaches of the Pacific ocean in Oregon. For Tri-Citians, the closest “near-beach” campgrounds in Oregon that offer restroom facilities, walking trails, and picnic tables at the sites, are Fort Stevens near Seaside, Oregon.

Fort Stevens state park offers 4300 acres of recreational fun and has a historical place in Oregon’s history. The park contains a fresh-water lake, Coffenbury, with swimming, bathrooms, and a two-mile loop trail for hiking and wildlife watching. It is open year-round, and you can make your reservations up to six months in advance for that special summer camping trip. The campground offers over 400 campsites, most with electrical hook-up, yurts, and deluxe cabins. At the website “stateparks.oregon.gov” you will find a map of the accommodations within the park’s acreage, so you can better select the perfect spot for your vacation. Visitors cannot see the ocean from the campgrounds, but an asphalt road will take them via car (parking available at beach) or via a frontage trail that accommodates walkers and bicycles.

The beach at Fort Stevens is expansive and holds a surprise for explorers. The road to the beach leads directly to the Peter Iredale shipwreck of 1906. The bones of this massive ship reach upward from the sand and water’s edge. If the tide is out, beachcombers can walk right up to the hull and pick mussels and barnacles from the steel. The ship from England ran aground during a storm in 1906.

Besides recreation, this state park holds historic importance. The Fort Stevens Military Reservation that includes the Battery Russell (constructed in 1904) helped protect the mouth of the Columbia River through several wars. You can contact the Visitor Center for current hours of operation at 503.861.2000. The Visitor Center offers military artifacts and guided walks of the batteries. Battery Russell was fired upon by a Japanese submarine in 1942. Kids can run freely through the concrete structures and see a part of Pacific Northwest war history first-hand.

Camping at Fort Stevens also puts visitors in close proximity to a trip to Fort Clatsop, where the Lewis & Clark Expedition stayed during their time in Oregon and the city of Seaside, where kids and adults alike can have fun on the go-cart tracks, the bumper cars, and mini golf. Additionally, if cooking around the campfire at the park is too labor intensive, Seaside has excellent restaurants.

Summer is just a few months away now, so if you have a few days to enjoy at the Oregon coast, make your reservations for Fort Stevens today!

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