I don’t really want to write about this place….cuz…..I want to keep it all to my self, bwahahahahahahaha, (maniacal laughter)…..
Ok, you twisted my arm. I’ll tell you all that I know….
A day came when my husband suggested, for fun, we should go camping. Well, after great thought, many discussions, (and a purchase or two), we were ready to go glamping, (no, I didn’t spell that wrong). For the back story on this, go read, “Camping, (or Glamping), In Our Little Chalet“.
We purchased a trailer that could fit in the garage and could be towed by our vehicle. We picked up our Chalet XL 1930 from the dealership and towed it home. Next, we parked it in the garage, (it fit like a glove).
I Had Reservations
I went online and reserved a campsite at Fort Stevens State Park, in Hammond, Oregon. At the time of this updated post, there are 521 different campsites in the campgrounds. Campsites are situated in what are called loops. Fort Stevens loops are identified by a letter then a number.
There are different types of sites to choose from in the campgrounds. As we were bringing a trailer, we were looking to have a site with water and electricity connections. Those are called Standard Hookup Sites.
Some folks are tent camping, so they too would likely reserve a Standard Hookup Site. There are only a couple of sites that only supply water, but as long as a person doesn’t need electricity for anything, they could tent camp there too.
If we had a black water tank in our little Chalet trailer, that could be dumped via an RV sewer hose, we would have likely reserved a Full Hookup Site. These sites have water, electricity and a sewer dump port.
Fort Stevens campgrounds rents cabins, (in case you are like me and want walls, doors and maybe a window or two).
They also rent Yurts. This is a Yurt you can rent, (providing Jeffrey the Elk permits you to).
We don’t really know his name. We call him Jeffrey.
If you would like to look for a site that might work for you and reserve it, click here for Fort Stevens State Park reservations.
Well, a few weeks went by and it was time to go. We began our adventure, towing our little Chalet behind us.
Things You Might See Along the Way to Fort Stevens
On a side bar, it is wonderful to drive through Oregon. The scenery is amazing and it is very different, depending where you are coming from.
Traveling Alongside the Columbia River
There are lots of ways to get to Fort Stevens. The path I’m going to tell you about travels along side the Columbia River.
I’ll use the city of Boardman for this example, as that is real close to where the Columbia River turns and heads out of Oregon, up through Washington State and into Canada.
If you are traveling from Boardman Oregon heading West to go to Fort Stevens, you will travel on Interstate Highway 84, (called I-84). In the area of Portland, (after a little highway interchanging), you will end up on the Lower Columbia River Highway No. 2W, (called US 30). The Columbia River will accompany you for 251 miles, (404 km), along this path.
The river travels all the way to Astoria, where it finally meets the Pacific Ocean. You may not always be able to see the river along your path, but it’s there, (to your right), and it keeps reappearing.
The Columbia River is 1,240 miles long in total, (2,000 km). It is the largest river that flows from North America, into the Pacific Ocean. Did you know that two fifths of it is in Canada? That is 500 miles, (805 kg), of the Columbia River in Canada.
If you are interested in some river history, in 1949, a survey was done by the United States Department of the Interior, (the Water Resources Division). It reported on the average, (mean), discharge of 25 large rivers. The report was based on a span of time, between 1921 and 1945.
It was determined at that time, that there were only 3 rivers that discharged more in the United States; The Mississippi, The Ohio and The St. Lawrence.
If you are traveling to Fort Stevens, via I-84, you might see this bridge. It crosses the Columbia River, connecting Oregon and Washington State.
On the Oregon side of the bridge, is the town of Hood River. Did you know that Hood River County is the largest producer of pears in the United States? Did you know that Hood River is the windsurfing capital of the world? There is so much you can do in Hood River.
There is the downtown, Historic Shopping District. Who doesn’t love to shop, (and eat, there are lots of places to stop for food). You can go hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and more. This area is a must see place that will take your breath away.
Scenery in General
This is such a beautiful part of the Columbia River. Here there are islands in the river.
The rock formations on the left, while traveling down I-84 are spectacular.
Can you see the train going through the mountain, on the Washington side of the river?
How did that random pointy rock, left of the 2 trees in the center, become?
Such beauty, can’t be described.
The Bonneville Fish Hatchery
You will drive right past the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, (unless you stop and look around). It is nine miles East of Multnomah Falls.
You might be surprised to hear that they have thousands of visitors, daily. On average, they see one million visitors per year, (people from all over the world, come to see the hatchery). When I went there, there was no charge. Hopefully, that is still the case.
The hatchery raises Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon and Steelhead Salmon. There you will see beautiful trees, flowers, flowering bushes and ponds with big fish, huge fish!
There is also a sturgeon pond!!!! Oh my gosh, you have got to go see the Sturgeon!!!!
The star there, is Herman the Sturgeon. He is 79 years old and weighs 500 pounds, (227 kg). There is a place at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, where you can see Herman, up close, (as he swims by, past a large viewing window). You can also walk around his, (and all of his friends), pond.
Herman fell in love with me and kept following me as I walked around the pond. Maybe he liked my hair or the color of my clothes.
I’m hoping, I didn’t just look like a great snack!!!!!
If you find you have great interest in seeing this place for yourself, and you want to learn more about it, click this link, Travel – Bonneville Fish Hatchery – Cascade Locks, Oregon.
State Parks Along the Way and the Cost to Park
Most state parks in Oregon charge a day use fee of $5.00 for parking. In case you do decide you might want to stop at an Oregon state park along the way, have cash, because some parks only take cash.
People who visit Oregon parks a lot, will purchase a one or two year permit for parking. At the time of this writing, the one year permit was $30.00 the two year permit was $50.00.
Click here to see where you can purchase Oregon Day-Use Parking Permits or a one or two year permit.
Parking permits are for stopping and parking in a state park. It doesn’t allow for over night parking. It doesn’t cover the cost of a campsite, (that is extra). A campsite in an Oregon state park, is charged per night. Every state park I have stayed at, has always been less than $40.00 per night. In my opinion, it is very reasonable.
The Falls Along I-84
If you are traveling along I-84, still heading West, you may want to stop at Multnomah Falls. People may not know that there is a cost to park, between 9:00 AM and 6: 00 PM, from May 24 through September 5th, (effective 2022).
Some folks may get lucky and be able to park for free, but you will have to click here to read about that, Waterfall Corridor Permit. Your Waterfall Corridor Parking Permit may be purchased up to 2 weeks in advance, to help guarantee you get to park, the day you arrive.
Multnomah falls is amazing to see and makes for quite a hike, (up). I hiked all the way to the top when I went. I wouldn’t suggest hiking to the top, for anyone that has a fear of heights though.
There is a series of waterfalls, along the Historic Columbia River Highway. We parked, then hiked to seven different falls the day we went.
Deer, Elk, Coyote, Bald Eagles and a Volcano?
The drive along US 30, heading West, is very picturesque too. You will transition from I-84 to US 30, (you will accomplish this, using the highway interchange that goes through Portland Oregon).
First, the Volcano
Now, you are on US 30. You will have Portland to your back and will travel through Scappoose.
That mountain that you see, all covered with snow, is actually an active strata volcano in Skamania County, (in Washington State). It is Mount Saint Helens.
You can see Mount Saint Helens pretty clearly from US 30, (off to the right), as you come into the city of Scappoose Oregon. When I took this picture, we were past Scappoose, closer to the Town of Warren. We were about 39 miles, (63 km), away from it, (as the crow flies).
Mount Saint Helens erupted, very violently on May 18th of 1980. Before the blast, the mountain’s summit altitude was 9,677 feet, (2,950 m). During the blast it lost 1,300 feet of height, (396 m). It was estimated, that it lost 3.4 billion cubic yards, (0.63 cubic mile), of it’s cone.
Mount Saint Helens is listed as the second most dangerous volcano in the United States, (the first most dangerous is Kilauea in Hawaii).
When my children were younger, we drove up to a ranger station, that was about eight miles away from the volcanos crater. There were lots of interesting things to see there. We found out what happened to a nearby lake the day the mountain blew it’s top. We found out why all of the trees looked like huge white toothpicks, (they were all bare, stripped of branches and bark and were laying on the ground in the same direction). We found out what happened to the people that were in the area when Mount Saint Helens erupted. The ranger station also had a movie, to show what it looked like when the volcano erupted that day.
There was going to be a discussion about the event, (an interpretive presentation by a park ranger). We sat down in front of a huge curtained window. The curtain was opened and we could see the crater, (again, only eight miles away). We could see a bulge in the middle of the crater. At that time, the ranger said that was a lava dome and it was 200 feet high, at that point in time. The ranger spoke of what happened that day and what had happened to the area since that day.
The discussion was very good, very interesting.
At the end, there was a question and answer session. I raised my hand and asked a question. I asked, “If the volcano was getting ready to erupt again, how much warning would it give”? The ranger paused, then said, “Well, it might not give any warning”.
I said, “OK kids, were outta here”!!
If you would like to read more about Mount Saint Helens, read it from the USGS, (United States Geological Survey).
Second the Scenery and Animals
The trip to Fort Stevens provides lots of opportunity to take interesting pictures of nature.
My husband does all of the hard work, of keeping his eyes on the road. I’m lucky, I get to see the scenery as we travel along the highway. There are lots of places, on either side of the road, where you may see deer, elk the occasional coyote or, (if you look up), you may even see a Bald Eagle.
Near the End of the Trip to Fort Stevens, You Come To Astoria
There are Several Museums in Astoria
We went to The Hawthorn Cannery Museum , (also called The Bumble Bee Cannery Museum). It is on the right side, almost as soon as you come into Astoria. You can type it into maps, on your cell phone, to find your way to it. The address is 100 39th St. Astoria, OR 97103. When we went there, there was no charge.
We went to The Columbia River Maritime Museum. It has the largest collection of maritime artifacts in the Pacific Northwest. The museum has over 22,000 items to see. Click here to learn more about the Columbia River Maritime Museum. There is a fee to tour it.
We went to the Flavel House Museum. The house is very interesting to see. There is a fee to tour it. I enjoyed watching the film about the man who owned the home, Captain George Flavel. It is played for visitors in the gift shop. Here is a little bit about the man and his family, George Flavel.
There are a few more museums in Astoria, (these are the only ones we went to, when we were there).
Finally, We Arrived at Fort Stevens State Park
When you first arrive, to camp at Fort Stevens, if you have a reservation, you should go to the ranger station and check in, (and pay for your campsite, if you hadn’t already done so, online).
The ranger will give you a tag, to hang from the rear view mirror, of your vehicle. You will also be given a map. It will help you to find your way around the camp site loops, to bathrooms and showers, to hiking trails, to Coffenbury Lake and the beaches within the state park.
I usually get 2 maps. I mark one up with a colored highlighter. I do this when my husband and I walk the loops, looking for the best campsites, for our next visit.
The 2nd map is in case I mess up the 1st map, or if it gets rained on. I don’t know if you were told this, but, it rains in Oregon.
Something you should pack when you are getting ready to go camping in Oregon, is a rain slicker. If you have to set up your trailer while it’s raining, at least you won’t get soaking wet.
We each have a coat and a pair of pants, to go over our clothes. No, this picture wasn’t taken in our little Chalet. it was taken when we got our next trailer, but, that is a tale for another day.
Anyone who complains about how much it rains in Oregon, hasn’t drawn the correlation between the rain and how beautifully green much of Oregon is.
It’s like the song about love and marriage, (you can’t have one without the other).
Back to Fort Stevens
Be carful when driving in and around Fort Stevens, as wildlife abounds.
Campsite check-out is at 1:00 PM. lots of people who were camping, will be leaving at or before that time. Check-in is at 4:00 PM. When you arrive, you should go to the ranger station to check-in and pay, (if you haven’t already done so, online).
After you have checked-in, go find your campsite. Check in is supposed to be at or after 4:00 PM, but the rangers have always told us, we can pull into our rented site, after 1:00 PM, providing the prior campers have left. If there is anything left at your site, it might be that the prior campers haven’t left yet.
Fort Stevens camp sites are easy to find, using the map. You always drive into a loop, clockwise. Each site in a loop is clearly numbered. See the brown site marker, barely seen at the bottom right of this picture, (L32).
This is typically how they are marked. All loops and all sites in each loop can be seen on the map given to you by the ranger. Each site identified on the map shows the maximum length of the site. All vehicles and trailers are supposed to be parked on the asphalt of each pad. So do your math. If your trailer is 26 feet long including the tongue and your vehicle is 20 feet long, you need a site that is 46 or more feet long.
Deep in, just right of the asphalt pad, you can see the water spigot, (it is leaning to the right). Just beyond that is the electrical box. Each site has a picnic table and a fire pit, (the fire pit here is just beyond the picnic table). This is typical of what you will see for each site.
The loops are heavily forested. Many campsites feel private, because of the separation between them, with trees, bushes and shrubs. Some sites aren’t grown up on the sides. This is typical in loops N and O. At the time of this writing, sites in loops N and O are Standard Hookup Sites. (no sewer dump ports).
You will want to set up as soon as possible, because as it gets dark, it makes set up more difficult.
Once you are all set up, you can explore the area, the campgrounds, relax or cook dinner. How about an easy meal, My Husband’s Chicken, Vegetable Soup with Mini Farfalle or Fast and Easy Homemade Chicken Teriyaki. You could read a book like The Good Earth or Dust. You might want to play games, like Five Straight, or Rummy.
Whatever you do, enjoy the opportunity to camp in one of the best State Campgrounds in the United States.
Time to Walk Around
One thing my husband and I love to do, is walk. When you pack for your trip, make sure to bring all of the things necessary for walking, because you possibly will do a lot of it.
Remember that it rains in Oregon, (that’s why it’s so green here). Also, bring some warm clothes, (in case it isn’t as warm as you thought it was going to be).
We each carry gloves. We each have a walking stick. I use mine while I walk, because it is in my hand, but frankly, I have it for a little self defense, (very little).
Remember, there is wildlife all around in the park.
Keep your eyes peeled!
Don’t turn your back for a second…. because you might just miss something.
There are Roosevelt Elk in the campgrounds.
If you are reading this from Europe, I’m sorry for any confusion pertaining to the name Elk. For those of you reading this in the America’s, in Europe, what we call a Moose, they call an Elk. In Europe, what we would call Elk, they call Red Deer.
My husband and I went out walking. It was close to dusk. We saw 2 children, about 7 years old each, riding their bikes on the bike path. They were near the crossroads that take people to the different loops, (near the ranger’s station).
There weren’t any adults with the children. The children came up to the intersection and were mesmerized by the herd of about 15 elk, right in front of them on the grassy areas there.
The children started heading for the elk. Lucky for them, a park ranger in a truck, intervened and told the children to turn around and go the other direction.
Elk are beautiful. So are deer, but both need to be respected. Keep a decent distance. Give them the right of way.
Female Roosevelt Elk average between 575 to 625 pounds, (261 to 283 kg). Male Roosevelt Elk average between 700 to 1100 pounds, (318 to 499 kg). Males in Alaska have been known to be as big as 1300 pounds, (590 kg).
Roosevelt Elk are the largest elk of the 4 remaining North American elk sub species. Males have large, sharp antlers. Their antlers are the largest, some reaching lengths of up to 4 feet. If you would like to know more about them, click Roosevelt Elk.
In addition to their weight and antlers, elk and deer have hooves and teeth. These are wild animals, so give them space.
Some dogs want to chase deer and elk. If it happens, it isn’t good for the elk or the deer, (or any of the other animals a dog may choose to chase). It could also be bad for your precious pet and maybe, even your pocketbook, (if you are fined by the State of Oregon).
Dogs in the park, must be kept under your control. They must be keep on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
Remember, you are a visitor in their home.
A few years ago, there was a cougar sighting in Fort Stevens, so, as is always the case with the great outdoors, be careful. Pay attention to your surroundings. It’s never a good idea to hike alone. Also, a person should read up on what to do when confronted by an animal that might think of you as prey.
People are funny. Rangers in Glacier National Park, (where there are grizzly bears), are sometimes asked this question, “Where do you keep the bears at night”? Without smiling, they try to explain that all of the animals that a person may see are wild. They are not taken in at night.
The Columbia River Meets the Pacific Ocean
Something I love about Fort Stevens State Park, is I can walk out onto a point, where The Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. I get to stand where the largest ocean on the planet, meets the 4th largest river in the United States. I can’t explain the feeling while standing there, (I’m in awe).
There are 4 parking lots, where you can walk out and see the Pacific Ocean and/or the Columbia River.
This point is not tranquil for boats or ships. You may see huge ships moving from the river into the ocean or from the ocean into the river. This is not an easy task, as the mouth of the Columbia River is treacherous, (sited as being one of the most dangerous, if not the most dangerous, waterways in the world). This waterway is the Columbia River Bar. It is where the Columbia River collides with the Pacific Ocean.
Shipwrecks are not is short supply here. One of the shipwrecks happened on October 25th, 1906, The Peter Iredale, (a four-masted steel barque vessel ship), ran ashore. You can still see some of it, sticking out of the sand at one of the beaches, at Fort Stevens. If you want to see it, I’d recommend you go soon, as the sand at the shore is taking it over, burying it.
If you walk into Loop N, counterclockwise, on the right near where loop N ends and loop O begins, you will come to a sign for Coffenbury Lake. If you walk up the path, you will come to a large parking lot. People with day passes may drive in, park and go enjoy the grounds, with picnic tables, restrooms and the lake.
You will see people fishing here, (and blue heron fishing here too). People kayak and canoe here.
There is a trail that goes all around the lake, (a two mile loop).
The trail itself, is heavy with foliage in a couple of places, but it is walkable. Watch out for roots though, as they are definitely a tripping hazard.
Mind your step as you walk the trail. I’ve seen a couple of snakes on it, and even one in the ladies room near the boat launch dock!!!
Here you can see part of the trail that goes around the lake.
The path does have an incline on the other side of the lake.
Here, you see my husband holding up a tree, (ok, he’s really hiding from me, but I found him).
Another place along the path.
Well, we are coming to the end of our path and the end of our day here at Fort Stevens State Park.
This is my favorite campgrounds to stay at. There is so much to see at this park.
Take your camera with you. Take some amazing pictures of your own.
Build some outstanding memories for yourself.