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  1. #1

    Default first-timer solo car camping trip from san francisco to vancouver

    Hi everyone,

    Soon-to-be first time road tripper here. I've been reading this forum and taking in all the stories and good advice. I'm planning to do two weeks in July/August from San Francisco up the Pacific Coast to Vancouver and back. Doing it solo, camping out of my car every night.

    I've been spending a lot of time planning this! I'm nervous of course, but can't wait - of course.

    Planning to stay at KOA campgrounds as much as I can, for safety and showers. Will stay at a hostel for one night in Vancouver, then come back. I'm planning to spend a night camping at the Mahak Reservation in Washington State, which should be amazing.

    I've been reading about the best places to visit and am planning on Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Eureka, Redwood National Park, Bandon, Oregon Dunes, Newport, Depoe Bay, Devils Punch Bowl State Park, Cape Lookout Park, Tillamook (especially the cheese and ice cream factory), and Astoria. These are all in Northern CA and Oregon, I'm going to split them up between the trips there and back.

    Once I get into Washington, I'll be driving on the 101 North to Port Angeles. I would love to hear suggestions for sightseeing along the way. Definitely planning on Olympic National Park, especially the Hoh Rain Forest.

    The theme of this trip will be hiking, seeing beautiful/unusual stuff, and some photography.

    Driving an older car without air conditioning, so I'm hoping that sticking close to the coast will make things not too bad. I am a little worried about car camping as a younger woman traveling alone, thinking of buying a taser. I've been reading around here and have seen that women do this kind of thing all the time, though.

    I'd be happy to hear any advice or encouragement. Thanks all!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome aboard RTA!

    While I understand your concern about safety, there are plenty of campgrounds where you will be safe that are not of the KOA franchise. Though I am a former-KOA-owner's daughter, we did NOT always stay at KOA's in our RV and camping days. Most of the time, we stayed either in public campgrounds or in other RV parks. KOA's got to be expensive and weren't always to our liking. Public campgrounds don't always have showers (that's true!), but commercial parks do. My advice would be to use your instinct -- if you don't feel safe somewhere, don't stay there.

    You picked a lot of great places along the coast to see and do. In Astoria, Fort Clatsop is a place I'd love to see but haven't done. (Friends of mine have and enjoyed it.)

    These days, Forks and La Push have found themselves abound with tourists, because of the TWILIGHT series of books and movies. Is that your fascination with the Makah? Just curious.


  3. #3


    I am doing a similar journey. Except I will be going up 395 in-between Death Valley National Park and Inyo and Sequoia National Parks, west through Yosemite on Rt 120, and then into the East Coast of CA, staying in some cities, then immediately North to continue camping in CA and OR, stopping in Portland, where I plan to live.

    I too am a bit nervous, as I have not done this sort of camping and travelling. I am a young man, not a young woman like yourself, but I still can relate to this nervousness ! I am more worried about bears and poisonous insects. Are you aware of any issues there ? If you find some good, cheap campsites, please let me know. I am trying to plan quite well for my trip.

    Take care !

  4. #4


    @Donna, I'll keep in mind your advice about commercial parks. Fort Clatsop is definitely a possibility, it's wonderful to get word-of-mouth recommendations about what's best to see in a place.

    I actually became interested in the Makah Reservation because someone on this site mentioned it, I looked it up, and it seemed beautiful and I was overjoyed that they offer camping. I didn't know that it's near the setting of Twilight! That should be interesting.

    @thecoloroflight, that sounds like a great trip, it will doubtless be beautiful and fun. I'm not sure about bears and poisonous insects, but no doubt they will be around somewhere! When I was looking around at campgrounds, I noticed that the more bare-bones ones with pit toilets and no showers seem to be cheaper, which makes sense. There seemed to be a lot of those at national parks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Note that KOA is oriented towards RV's, not tent camping, and can be almost as expensive as cheap motels. I'd be looking at state and county parks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    To both of you -- state and national park campgrounds, as well as those in national forests, usually do not have more facilities than a bathroom of some sort and maybe running water at each site. The price runs from about $8 for the CG's far away from anywhere, up to $35 (CA state park CG's are *expensive* because CA has cut off financial support). A commercial CG/RV Park can run $20 up, depending on its location and facilities, with most of them in the $30 range these days. But as mentioned above, commercial CG/RV parks almost always have showers and other comforts.

    Take good insect repellant, but know your tent's specifications. Don't use insect sprays like Raid on it unless you know that the formula won't kill the rain-coating on your tent.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Vancouver Hostels

    If you are planning on staying in a hostel in Vancouver BC, make sure you know which hostel. I have stayed in a couple of awful ones. I highly recommend that you choose one of the three Hostelling International hostels in that city.


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