Located along Oregon’s Pacific coast featuring beautiful deep valleys, wind-carved dunes, and remarkable long-distance views the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area represents coastal Oregon at it’s most adventurous. At 31,500 acres, this is no desolate patch of sand. With everything from bird-watching, off-road vehicle access, family fun park, and hiking to mountain biking and cozy camping, you can see exactly why this is a popular destination for Oregon visitors.
While you’ll hardly scratch the surface at what this area has to offer, we recommend staying – at minimum – 3 days in order to get a flavor of the wild Oregon coastal dunes and people.
Day 0 – Find Your Home Base
When it comes to camping in the Oregon Dunes, there are countless options available, ranging from modest to luxurious. Lagoon Campground and Sutton Campground are smaller and offer a lot more privacy due to the tall trees. On the other hand, if you’re an off-roading enthusiast, then Driftwood II Campground makes the most sense.
Not only does it have direct access for off-roaders but it also has a parking lot feel to it (though this is perhaps not the best option for campers who aren’t into off-roading). Moreover, Tahkenitch Campground is all about hiking while Tahkenitch Landing Campground focuses on lake access.
Carter Lake Campground is a more in-between option since it offers both lake and beach access. If you’re seeking a quieter refuge away from all the hustle and bustle of OHV, Eel Lake Campground should be your go-to!
Day 1 – Hit The Trails
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area boasts a large range of trails, so based on your ability and the time you have on your hands, you’re bound to find an activity that is suitable to your needs. The Sutton Campground Loop, for instance, starts right from the campsite and features a diverse ecosystem, from forested dunes to brackish lake water.
If you’re into hiking or mountain biking, the Siltcoos Lake Trail is a great place to start. It encloses a gorgeous body of water and is also pet friendly! On the other hand, if you’re looking into quick access to the dunes, then the Oregon Dunes Loop is the ideal fit. While the less traveled Hall and Shuttpelz Lake Trail offers a quieter and cozier retreat, perfect for contemplation.
For dinner, head into nearby Florence, Oregon (located just north of ODNR), and grab a streaming-hot clam chowder and a cold beer at our favorite seafood joint Bridgewater Fish House and Zebra Bar located on Florence’s main thoroughfare (Bay Street).
Day 2 – Water, Beaches, and Dunes
Beaches stretch for miles along the coast and are easy to come by in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The Taylor and Carter Dunes is a short trail, so it’s a more convenient way to get to the ocean. Moreover, The Siltcoos Beach Day Access boasts numerous amenities for beachgoers, namely parking and vault toilets.
If you’re looking for beach access that doesn’t necessarily involve an off-road vehicle, then you should expect a short hike. To get an unmatched view of the Pacific Ocean, consider venturing out into the Hall and Shuttpelz Lake Trail or John Dellenback Trail.
If you’re traveling with your family, and you’re looking for a place where your kids can play in the sand dunes, then Honeyman State Park is a great space to visit. The park covers a total of 2 miles and has two lakes, which are perfect for swimming, kayaking, or canoeing. The sandy stretch of paradise makes for an amazing base to build sandcastles and your kids will definitely love this park.
Day 3 – Family Fun Center
While not for everyone, we’ve had plenty of great memories at Sandland Adventures. Located just south of Florence on US 101, the owners and staff are super friendly, and you can tell they love what they do.
Offering plenty of family-friendly options including scenic tours of the Oregon Dunes, either on buggies or group tour haulers, bumper boats, train rides, go-karts, and miniature golf. Drive your own Go-Kart and enjoy the thrill of maneuvering along our 1/4 mile grandprix style track or ride with an adult in our double seater.