Highway 101 runs the entire length of the Oregon Coast, but for a short stretch you can branch off on the Three Capes Scenic Route to visit three beautiful oceanside parks in a row. Several RV parks are in the area with easy access to the beach and local restaurants.
Start your trip in Lincoln City, on the Central Oregon Coast, and head northbound towards Neskowin. The first park you pass, Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area, is not technically part of the Three Capes route, but it does make a scenic home base while you’re in the area. The campground on the western shore of the lake has full hookup sites, electric-only sites, tent sites, and yurts including some that are pet-friendly.
Stop by Chinook Winds Casino and the beach at Roads End Recreation Site as you continue your way north along Highway 101. After passing by Nestucca Bay Wildlife Refuge, the road splits into two, and if you continue left through the town of Pacific City, you will find the very start of the designated Three Capes Scenic Route.
Your first stop along the route will be Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. Cape Kiwanda has a wide sandy beach, large sandstone bluffs, a tall sand dune, and a massive offshore rock known as Haystack Rock (not to be confused with the famous rock of the same name in Cannon Beach). Set up a chair or blanket by the beach and look out for the surfers who, on a good day, can be seen riding the waves.
As you continue northbound you’ll pass Sand Lake Recreation Area. This park is also not one of the three capes, but it’s still worth stopping to explore. The area has over a thousand acres of wide open sand dunes to drive on with a quad or mini dune buggy. If you don’t have your own ATV, plenty of rentals are available in the area. Sandbeach Campground is part of the recreation area with nonelectric sites, flush and vault toilets, grills and fire rings, and other basic amenities.
Your next stop on the Three Capes Scenic Route will be Cape Lookout State Park. This wooded park has access to several hiking trails, a pull-off where you can get a sweeping view of the ocean, a picnic area, and a huge RV-friendly campground with full hookups.
As you drive northbound along Netarts Bay, you’ll pass a Garden RV Resort and Big Spruce RV Park as well as the towns of Netarts and Oceanside. The route finally leads to the third and final cape: Cape Meares, home of the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast and a uniquely shaped Octopus Tree.
The path to the lighthouse is downhill but it is very short (less than a quarter mile), and the elevation is gradual. Along the way you will find a couple of picnic tables and benches to sit down, as well as dramatic views of the waves crashing up against the high bluffs. Look out for the various birds and other wildlife like whales during the summer.
The Cape Meares lighthouse has a small gift shop inside and some days they offer free guided tours. They share the long history of the lighthouse, how it was operated before electricity was invented, and what has happened to it since being decommissioned. There is no campground in Cape Meares Park, but a few options are nearby in the town of Tillamook including Ashley Inn and Pleasant Valley RV Park.
While you’re in the area, make a visit to the famous Tillamook Creamery only about 15 miles from Cape Meares. The factory has self-guided tours where you can learn more about how their award-winning cheese is made, a diner that serves classic dishes like cheeseburgers and grilled cheese, free samples of different types of cheese, and ice cream that you can take to go.