Hello and Welcome to Ginger & Zimt!
This week I’m doing a review and tour of a cabin at Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon. If you’d like to skip straight to the cabin review, you will find it in the video posted about midway down this page =o).
I LOVE Camping! Love-love-LOOOOVE camping!
I say this as a total bug fearing urbanite whose idea of “roughing it” includes renting a towable U-Haul trailer to carry all our gear, and driving up to a larger-than-average tent site in a National Forest Federal Campground, then spending the next 4+ hours (plus part of the next day) unloading and setting everything up. I bring an entire village of tents for my family of 4. We don’t need electricity or running water, so this isn’t exactly Glamping… Buuuut, it is on the cusp! Once set up, we could comfortably live for the 14 day maximum stay allowance, with trips into town for fresh groceries and ice every 4 days. We sleep on air mattresses and no one has to share a bed. I cover the tent floors with rugs. I bring our own camp toilet. I have a full camp kitchen set-up. We even have a very poor excuse for a camp shower! We have made camping very comfortable for our family (though a TON of work!). I’ll give you the full tour later this summer! But for now, I’m sharing this info only to serve as my camping background for this cabin review ;o).
Normally, my family makes our first camping trip of the year on my Birthday in mid May. This is right when the campgrounds open for the season. The Pacific Northwest weather is still cool and unpredictable in terms of the rain to sun ratio, which means NO BUGS (YAY) but we always get rained upon. These trips are always a love – hate thing. We love getting away and camping outdoors, BUT it’s a lot of work for just a few days vacay, and at a REALLY busy time of year for us in terms of all we have going on. Then add in getting wet and cold for 4 days straight… and having to pack-up a wet campsite… well, some of us (ME) like this annual tradition of Spring Camping a bit more than others in the family who do more of the manual camp labor. So last spring we looked into a few different spring camping options to try this year, and we booked a cabin at Fort Stevens State Park (near Astoria, Oregon) for this President’s Weekend (because you have to book close to a year in advance)! I have heard a lot of great things about Fort Stevens from friends who have camped there for years, but they all camp in RVs so the whole cabin concept was new to me. I imagined something really rustic, with rough walls, poor lighting and musty-dusty upholstery that hadn’t been cleaned since the 70’s. For months after making the reservation I held on to this image. Then finally in December, as we were debating the logic of camping in the winter in a rickety old cabin sans heat and thinking about canceling our trip, we decided to GOOGLE a review! What a novel idea! We found ONE video review of the cabins at Fort Steven’s State Park. Just ONE! But it was all we needed. The family from the review was the first to stay in the cabin after they had been remodeled, a few years ago. They were beautiful! We were good to go! No matter how stormy the weather, I knew we would be warm and dry! And by the time our weekend came up, weather reports were for a series of storm systems to pass right through us =o).
We ended up having a fantastic weekend at Fort Stevens, 4 days of almost constant rain and all! It was a very different camping experience from what we normally see camping at a Federal Campground in the National Forest. First and foremost, the state park campgrounds are HUGE and the vast majority of sites are for RV/trailer camping. It was VERY busy with lots of traffic coming and going the entire weekend. The camp sites are extremely small and offer little to no privacy. The handful of tent sites (I think there are 6 in the entire park with over 300 RV sites) were all situated in the same loop as the cabins and they were microscopic! I wouldn’t have been able to fit any of our family tents at one of these tent sites. The campgrounds had more of a park-like feel with paved paths and were less rustic than the campgrounds in the National Forest. They even had amenities like full bathrooms (not vault toilets), showers and laundry available. Yet despite the heavier traffic, the higher human density, and the park-like feel, we saw MORE wildlife than we have EVER seen camping in the forest! Elk, Raccoons and even a Bald Eagle that swooped down to snatch at a jumping Salmon just 3 feet in front of us! It was amazing!
Here is our cabin tour:
Our cabin was perfect! SO cute and just the right size for our family of 4 and much cleaner than I had expected. The camp site includes a fire pit, picnic table and a grill for cooking. The only cooking allowed inside the cabin is in the provided microwave, so if you plan to go, you should plan your meals accordingly. You could set up a folding table on the porch and use a griddle or slow cooker to cook out there, as they do have outdoor outlets, but you are not supposed to use these appliances inside the cabin. We packed food as if we were going to be out camping in the forest, but in the future we will not do so. There is one of the largest grocery stores I have ever seen in my life, just 10 min away (Fred Meyer in Warrenton). You are not out in the wilderness at this state park… I’ve even read that some restaurants will deliver right to your site! So, in the future our plan is to pack more gear but less food and purchase the food our first full day there.
There is SO MUCH to do in this area: Beach combing, clamming, surfing, nature walks, fishing, an old military fort to explore, and the towns of Seaside (with a boardwalk) and Astoria are within a short 20min drive. This is a fantastic vacation spot for active families of all phases, as well as couples or solo campers who just want to enjoy the peace of the coast. Personally, I think the cabin would be perfect for someone wanting to get away for a writer’s retreat (daydreaming)!
Hope you found this review to be helpful!