As I crawled out of my cozy little RV, I could hear the roar of the Pacific Ocean just above the sand dunes of my campsite in Nahalem Bay State Park on the Oregon Coast.

I shivered against the gray cold of the morning and made my way to the back of the small teardrop-shaped RV I had rented to make a nice cup of coffee. Lifting the back cover, I pulled the camp stove out of its folded hiding place, attached the propane, and boiled water in a metal kettle included in the kitchen.

I rented the little teardrop RV on an Oregon road trip from Side Yard Farm and Kitchen in Portland, organized by Lil’ Campers. The RV came stocked with a packet of Extracto coffee, Scrapberry Farm tea, packets of homemade fig wood smoked s’mores from Side Yard Farm, and a packet of firewood.

“Renting an RV, especially a small teardrop RV, is easy, affordable, and can create a comfortable camping experience for exploring areas like the rugged Oregon Coast.”
(Photo credit: Heide Brandes)

As I warmed my hands over the locally roasted cup of coffee and planned a day on the Oregon Coast, I couldn’t help but reflect on how comfortable the Lil’ Camper was by compared to a tent. I couldn’t help but think how convenient it was to carry a small RV instead of a large RV or fifth wheel.

I couldn’t help but appreciate the locally sourced interior decor and bedding inside the motorhome and the fact that in 2 days I would be returning it without having to worry about its upkeep by the following.

Sure, there were plenty of hotels and vacation rentals in the area, but I explored the Oregon Coast in a small RV, and here’s why you should too.

Easy little camper

Renting a motorhome and camping in a smaller trailer or teardrop motorhome can offer a totally different experience from traditional camping or staying in a hotel. On the one hand, you get the luxuries of home, like a small kitchen, soft beds and a roof over your head, plus a nice little heater if you have shore power available. You wake up in nature to the sound of the distant roar of the ocean without having to travel to a national park or the coast.

For many adventurers and roadtrippers, buying a motorhome or motorhome might not be the best decision for various reasons. Whether you’re not sure you really want to pay for the maintenance costs of an RV or you just can’t afford it right now, renting gives you the option to spend short term and try it out. in “its natural environment,” per se.

Renting a motorhome, especially a small teardrop motorhome, is easy, affordable, and can create a comfortable camping experience for exploring areas like the Oregon Wild Coast.

Lil' Camper, Side Yard Farms & Kitchen.
Stacey Givens, owner and chef of Side Yard Farms & Kitchen, curated items for the Lil’ Camper from local merchants and artisans, including this bedding set created by White Buffalo.
(Photo credit: Heide Brandes)

A farm stay on wheels

I was able to secure my Lil’ Campers 2022 Aero Teardrop The Steel through the Outdoorsy RV rental site. Lil’ Campers is a teardrop tractor-trailer rental company located in the Side Yard farm in northeast Portland.

Side Yard is an urban farm in Portland that feeds more than 15,000 people a year through restaurants, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes, donations, catering, and farming events. Because they grow their own food, Side Yard offers an assortment of farm-made groceries and other local Portland treats to add to your “farm stay” on wheels.

After renting a van, I headed to Side Yard to plug in the Lil’ Camper and learn more about how it works. After a brief introduction to the RV and an explanation of the various amenities, we set off with our new home on wheels to visit Nahalem Bay State Park near Tillamook.

The Lil’ Camper was beautifully decorated and comfortable with bedding created by the mother-daughter team at White Buffalo. Chef Stacey Givens, owner of Side Yard Farms & Kitchen, designed the kitchen herself, adding little touches like handmade ceramic mugs and bowls by artist Dwayne Sackley. It also includes various cooking utensils, a pull-out two-burner stove, a pour-over coffee maker, and even a giant Yeti cooler. We opted to add a container of pre-cooked camp chili for dinner and Stacey even added a sample of her homemade pesto made from the lovage she grows on her farm.

The cabin itself has a full extra large mattress which was so comfy, board games, lighting, Bluetooth speakers, USB ports and cup holders plus storage for clothes and other items .

It really was like an efficient little apartment on wheels.

Pro Tip: Although we rented a massive three-quarter-ton pickup, this little baby is light enough to tow behind an all-wheel-drive SUV or smaller truck. Weighing only 1,700 pounds unpacked, you’ll need a vehicle equipped with a tow hook.

Author holding an Oregon Dungeness Crab while on a tour with Big Johnson's Guide Service.
The author attempts to hold one of Oregon’s famous Dungeness crabs on a crabbing excursion with Big Johnson’s guiding service.
(Photo credit: Lyle Kilgore)

Explore the Oregon Coast

The wind blew through my light rain jacket as Jamison Johnson of Big Johnson Guide Service in Tillamook dropped large metal cages into the waters around Garibaldi Harbour. Tall and built like a linebacker, he explained that the Dungeness crabs we were hunting that day all had to be males of a certain size.

We had signed up for a crabbing adventure with Jamison as part of our exploration of the coast, and if you love crabbing as much as I do, then this might be the excursion for you. With 20 years of experience leading Oregon fishing and crabbing trips, Jamison knew where all the “honeypots” were for catching crab at the start of the April season.

Even better, as we went to lunch with fried oysters and oyster chowder at The Fish Peddler at Pacific Oyster, Jamison took our crab treasures home to clean and cook for us. After grabbing our bag of cooked Dungeness Crab, we headed to Netarts Bay to hike along the beach and gaze at The Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge.

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge in Netarts Bay, Oregon.
In the distance, the Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge looms at Netarts Bay near Tillamook.
(Photo credit: Heide Brandes)

Three Arch Rocks is a series of three small islands located just off the coast that make up the 15-acre refuge. In addition to its mysterious “holes,” this refuge is important for breeding seabird colonies and is home to the only Steller sea lion whelping site on the northern Oregon coast.

After an easy walk to leave the hearty oyster lunch, we ventured to Cape Meares Scenic Lookout for a light hike through Oregon’s lush, pristine forests. We also learned about historic lighthouses along the Oregon Coast.

Pro Tip: If you’re going crabbing with Jamison, you’ll need a day fishing license, clothes you don’t mind getting wet and dirty in, a rain jacket (because it’s raining all the time), a hat and gloves. . If you don’t want to reassemble the crab baskets yourself, don’t worry; Jamison will take care of that for you and you can enjoy a relaxing morning on his boat and learn about the crabbing industry.

Hike the Oregon Coast under an overcast sky.
Overcast skies along the Oregon Coast make for a magical and mysterious hike.
(Photo credit: Lyle Kilgore)

The short trip was worth it

After a full day of activities, we returned to our Lil’ Camper after dark, grateful for the little ceramic heater that warmed up the small space in minutes. Although we only spent a full day and two nights on the Oregon coast before returning to Portland, we felt exhausted and exhilarated by the experience and the scenery we were able to explore.

After a late dinner and a cold beer (thanks Stacey!), we settled in for the night, ready to return to our little home the next day in Portland. In the distance, the roar of the Pacific rocked us.

Pro Tip: If you’re not used to towing a trailer, opt for a small SUV with four-wheel drive. Having such a big truck with such a small trailer sometimes made navigating the windy roads of Oregon’s coastal mountains a little stressful. You have to rent a vehicle with a tow hook on it, but for a short stay the Lil’ Camper was just perfect.

There are many more things to explore in Oregon, including these stories: