Beginner Backpacking Tips for the Pacific Coast

Beginner Backpacking Tips for the Pacific Coast

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With an abundance of ocean side camp sites and stunning natural beauty, backpacking down the Pacific Coast is a great way to begin your traveling career – especially if you are nervous about leaving the country.

What to Pack?
The Pacific Coast, stretching from the top of Washington to the bottom of California, varies so widely you’ll need to pack for every weather anomaly you can imagine.

In the north:
-solid rain gear
-sturdy shoes and socks
thermal underwear

To the south:
-sun dresses or saraongs for the women
-boardshorts for the men
-comfortable swimwear
flip-flops and a towel

Your big gear won’t change as much. Depending on your backpacking style, necessities like tents and sleeping bags may be the staples; for others, a solid camera and a motorcycle will be must haves. But you will need, regardless of style:
-a backpack
-sunblock/bug spray
-an atlas

Where to Stay?
It depends wholly on your budget. Planning to live out of an old car or self contained RV? There will be minimal costs, aside from gas and shower stops. Tenting it along the seaside at one of the countless campgrounds, or hitting up Airbnb? Expect to pay less than hotels at $20-$50 a night. If you feel like being pampered, a three star hotel or lodge will cost between $150 and $350+, becoming more expensive as you head south.

What to Do?
Northern Washington
Start your adventure in Cape Flattery, surrounded on three sides by the mighty Pacific, before heading through La Push towards Curt Cobain’s childhood home in Aberdeen.

Southern Washington
Continue south to the stunning Wilapa National Wildlife Refuge for hiking or birding. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Cape Disappointment isn’t a disappointing side trip.

Northern Oregon
The Cape Meares Lighthouse and its octopus tree are a few hours below Cape Diappointment. Be sure to admire the dunes at Siuslaw National Forest, too.

Southern Oregon
Bandon must be your next stop, for a view of the Kitten Rocks; down the coast is the Arch Rock in Brookings, which is breathtaking at sunset.

Northern California
City hop from Eureka’s red woods to San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, before continuing south on the Cabrillo Highway towards Los Angeles.

Southern California
From L.A., hit up La Jolla Cove for sharks and seal watching and round out the trip by posing for a pic on the Mexican border in San Diego.

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