The Mouth of the Columbia River

Astoria-56Astoria-1Last year we paid a brief visit to Astoria, a funky town at the mouth of the Columbia River, and really liked it so we were determined to spend a little time there this year. As Thanksgiving approached, we knew it was time to get to the coast and begin our (slow) drive south, but instead we made a slight detour north to Astoria.

Astoria-33Astoria-32We stayed at Fort Stevens State Park, a beautiful park just outside the town. The campground was pretty empty, so we found a cozy, private spot. Check out my review of the campground here.Astoria-7

Astoria was named after John Jacob Astor who founded Fort Astoria as a fur-trading port for his American Fur Company in 1811. During its early history, Astoria’s primary industries were fishing, fish processing and lumber.Astoria-19Astoria-20

Astoria’s deepwater port still serves as port of entry and trading center for the Columbia basin. But both the fishery and timber industries declined, forcing the town to reinvent itself. And it did so by supporting a burgeoning art scene and bringing light manufacturing into its fold.Astoria-17Astoria-18

It also succeeded in growing a tourism industry. With its location on the Columbia River, Victorian architecture poised amongst hills, proximity to the Pacific, surrounding lush forest and fascinating maritime history, it gained the nickname of “little San Francisco”. Astoria’s deepwater port now welcomes several major cruise lines.


Astoria-6Adding to the town’s interesting sites is Fort Clatsop, where the Lewis and Clark camped the first winter after their expedition ended, and which we visited last year. And the striking Astoria-Megler Bridge, a 4.1 mile long bridge connecting the town to Washington. Pilings near the bridge mark the spot where downtown structures once stood before a fire destroyed most of them.Astoria-47Astoria-58

We were incredibly fortunate to have outstanding weather while we were in Astoria. Although there were occasional clouds with some wind and colder temperatures, the sun was shining most of our week there. For it being late fall in the Pacific Northwest, it was glorious and we were truly thankful.

We even watched the beautiful full moon rise one evening.


We spent much of our time taking walks on the beach. And watching the sunset. The wreck of the Peter Iredale, which ran aground during a storm in 1906, is particularly picturesque at sunset. Its rusty bow sits on the beach reminding all of the power of the ocean.Astoria-44

Astoria-3Astoria-4The beach on this coast is amazing at low tide. It is wide and hard packed enough to drive on, not that we risked it. But the beachcombing was great. It is so much fun to find what the ocean has washed on shore with the last tide.Astoria-43Astoria-39Astoria-24Astoria-26

Astoria-10Astoria-12We also toured the town. This town retains a gritty character that has somehow found a balance with hip breweries, coffee shops and other trendy establishments.Astoria-100




Astoria-112We finally got to sample the amazing fish and chips at the popular Bowpicker Fish and Chips. This little food stand is in a real bowpicker style fishing boat and almost always has a line that stretches down the block, which is why we hadn’t tried it before!  Now we get why the line is long.  Cheap and fantastic. Yum!


We also sampled frozen custard from the Custard King, a little business that was restored earlier this year.



Astoria-65The three of us celebrated Thanksgiving at our campsite. Interestingly, camping in Fort Stevens State Park is a popular activity on this weekend, so our private little spot was surrounded. But we had a lovely day. Hector made a very yummy dinner with a rack of pork as the centerpiece. We have much to be thankful for.Astoria-117Astoria-116

Astoria-53Astoria-72After Thanksgiving, we crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge over to Washington and visited Long Beach. This is yet another fabulous beach, with a sign proclaiming that they are the “World’s Longest Beach”, a claim challenged by some. The official story is that it is “the world’s longest continuous peninsula beach”.Astoria-74

No matter, at 28 miles, it is a very long beach. We had so much fun with Angel on all the different beaches!Astoria-75


Astoria-22All too soon , the approach of the month of December was our cue to continue our journey south. So we parted ways with funky Astoria and headed down the Oregon coast.

~ BrendaAstoria-79

22 thoughts on “The Mouth of the Columbia River

    • Thank you, Russ. Although the wind and rain has now caught up with us, we are still enjoying the coast. Hugs for you and Todd!

  1. Spectacular moon rising and sun setting photos, Hector!! You always do such a great job capturing the water with all its beauty. Love seeing Angel! She looks wonderful:)

  2. I loved the pictures, but mostly I have to say Angel looks like she was feeling on top of the world. So nice to see her enjoying being out and about.

  3. We, too,love Astoria….it has to much to offer, much more than meets they eye. Thanks for taking us back there and reminding us how much we love that Bowpicker fish and chips! My favorite shots are of Angel walking on her beach reflection! The last time we were there the bridge was under construction and the subsequent traffic jam was horrendous so we never made it over to Long Beach. Its on our list for this summer.


  4. I see you have couple of photos of Oregon’s Whispering Giant. Carved by Peter Toth, there is one in every state. Although we have only found a few, friends of ours have found well over 30 and plan their travels around finding them. We saw the Astoria one last summer, but there was just too much traffic to stop For a closer look. I wanted to hear the whisper!

    • Wow, we were fascinated by this carving and read the plaque which said it honored the Clatsop, Chinook and all the Northwest coastal Indians, but had not realized that there is a version of this in every state until now. Thanks for the information, how interesting!

  5. Hola, amigos! You all look and sound well. GREAT to see Angel looking as spry and game for adventure as ever! Blessings to you all! xoxo

  6. Good Stuff! Looks like you are back at what you do best, enjoying each day as it comes. Great place to explore. Enjoy and savor!

  7. Hi you two!

    The beer flight looks yummy and so does Thanksgiving dinner. The walks on the beach with Angel look so very peaceful. And the sunsets – wowee!!!!

    Wishing you a beautiful holiday, sweet friends!

    Lots of love,

    • Hector is so happy to have a wow!!! We wish you lots of love and peace for the holidays and the New Year!
      Big hug,
      Brenda and Hector

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