Car Camping and Traveling With Dogs

My Fit parked at Lithia Park in Ashland, OR

As a graduation gift, I have been privileged to become the owner of a Honda Fit. What particularly drew me to the model was its trademarked “magic seats”, which fold down flat completely. With a newfound way of traveling cheaply and to get more used to the car, my boyfriend and I (along with our dogs) set off for a short car camping road trip to the beautiful PNW in late January.

Pepper, our 5 year old shepherd mix sitting in the dog/sleeping area of the Honda Fit

We left the Bay at 6pm, but didn’t actually get out until two hours after due to heavy traffic! That being said, we didn’t reach the Oregon border until 11pm. I did some quick research the week before on where to sleep in a car legally, but ultimately we just scoped out areas that felt right. We didn’t feel that great about sleeping overnight at rest stops and didn’t research enough on camping areas, so our main ideas were truck stops and Walmart parking lots.

When we arrived in Ashland at 2am that first night, we decided to park the car at a truck stop. Luckily, we felt like we weren’t the only ones doing so that night as there were trucks and a van with covered windows parked in the corner of the lot. We woke up to heavy, dense fog. Although San Francisco is known as the “foggy city”, Oregon’s fog certainly lived up to that name more. On this second day, we drove up Interstate-5 and hit Portland around 3pm.

My newfound favorite place in the PNW- the Portland Women’s Forum overlooking the Columbia River Gorge

Unfortunately, we decided on not exploring Portland but on exploring the historic Columbia River Highway 30. It was about a 2 hour drive with a bunch of stops overlooking waterfalls, the Columbia River and the Vista House. Taking the dogs did keep us from exploring busy areas, but because of them we opted for a more scenic and rugged themed road trip.

From here on, we decided to head up to Seattle as it was only 3 hours away. It was dark and rainy when we were driving through Washington. Deciding where to sleep that night was difficult, as the truck stops were small and had towing signs on them. Frustrated, we almost decided to book a hotel. However, we really didn’t want to give up, so we decided on spending the night at a Walmart supercenter. We didn’t feel that great about this stop, but we weren’t the only ones spending the night there either. There were trucks and RVs- however, we still decided to only spend a few short hours there.

Scout and Pepper getting their own time at Discovery Park

The next day was spent thoroughly discovering what we could in Seattle. We first showered at our gym then went up to Kerry Park. Afterwards, we visited Pike Place Market and “enjoyed” strolling through the crowds with our dogs. Wanting to see more of the nature the PNW offered, we settled on a long stop at Discovery Park. Here, the dogs were able to play and run off leash, while we humans got to relax and enjoy the landscape. 


We took a good 2 hour nap here, which honestly was also one of the highlights of the trip. Being able to relax in the middle of the day and wake up to a foreign view is one of the best feelings life has to offer.

That night, we made it a goal to drive to our halfway point which was actually where we spent our first night. Doing this allowed us to be able to stop more on our way back down to California.


Snow beside Interstate-5 in southern Oregon


Lithia Park, OR
Weed, CA

I now feel that the best parts of any trip are the unplanned parts. Although it was not easy traveling with our dogs, they now have an experience of a lifetime and even got us to visit areas we wouldn’t have considered without them. I have now fallen in love with the beauty of the PNW- this trip though being short, was certainly a great experience but really has left me stronger in lust for the unique scenery this part of the U.S. has to offer.



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