Going Oregon Coast Camping is like going back in time. In most campgrounds along the coast, early morning and late afternoon fog routinely cast a magical, mystical quality over your campground. If you’re fortunate enough to find a campground with a view of the ocean (it’s not too hard at all), you’ll find yourself watching some of the most fantastic sunsets and the bluest skies of your life. And if you’re a photographer, it’s not hard to get the best photographs of your life either – just point and click.
Oregon Coast Camping
There are a few things you should know about camping on the Oregon coast – mainly that California has more wild animals than they have traffic jams. California is home to elk, bears, coyote, sea lions, marmots, whales, and many more species of mammals, fish, and amphibians and reptiles (think rattlesnakes) galore. Oregon is also home to more than 6,000 cougars, or mountain lions.
You’re just as likely to find a family of raccoons raiding your food stash as you are to encounter bears around your campsite, or while on a trail. While experts say mountain lion attacks on humans are rare, they do happen. Unlike California, there’s never been a fatal cougar attack in Oregon. The cougar population is healthy, and growing, state park officials say, so if you’re observant you may catch a glimpse of one.
Unwritten and Written Rules about Oregon Coast Camping –
The days of the heady freedom of the 60s are gone. You can no longer pitch a tent, or even throw out a towel and camp on the beach. It’s just not allowed. Hence, some towns and cities post the law, but some do not, leaving you surprised to see it being enforced just as you were settling in.
Towns and villages like Manzanita, Tierra del Mar and all of Clatsop County between Cannon Beach and Astoria completely ban camping on the beach, as do most state parks. Read the signs at the beach access. Assume it’s illegal unless you see a sign saying otherwise. Therefore, it’s not just a town preference for keeping parties and people off of the beach at night, it’s a safety issue as well.
If you’re thinking sleeping in your vehicle is easier and more comfortable anyway, think again.
You cannot park and sleep within city limits of just about all coastal towns. You cannot sleep in your vehicle in the parking lots of waysides and beaches within city limits. In fact, most parking areas have signs designating no parking within certain times at night. Therefore, you might find some secluded pull offs or viewpoints along Highway 101 outside of any town, but check any signage carefully as the long arm of civic authorities may have reached outside of town as well
However, don’t be too bummed. Overnight Oregon coast camping is allowed on some sections of the Oregon Coast. Mainly those not adjacent to any of the Oregon State Parks, and not within the city limits of Cannon Beach, Lincoln City, Seaside, Newport, Bandon, Gold Beach, Rockaway Beach and Manzanita. This includes overnight sleeping in tents, driftwood shelters, sleeping bags, recreational vehicles, trailers, or automobiles, nor where there are signs posted prohibiting camping.
Oregon Coast Camping Places –
The places where you can camp on the beach tend to be remote, far from the road and not accessible by automobile. If that sounds like the opening for a summer, beach babe horror movie, it might be. Officials say, “If you choose to make camp on the beach, be prepared to break camp on request and always practice beach safety.”
Campgrounds No Longer Open
Oddly enough, there are many Oregon coast camping sites that are posted on various websites and guides, but they’re no longer open. However, some have been permanently closed to “tree hazards,” like Oswald West State Park. Due to “sentimental reasons” the information about the parks remains online – so double check before you head out to make sure the campground is still open.
Oregon Coast Camping Sites With Attractions –
Californians like to camp where they play. Some campgrounds attract ATVs and their community, others cater to surfers, and water sports enthusiasts, or fishermen. Sand Beach Campground & Dunes is one of these Oregon Coast camping sites. Take Galloway Road (at approximately Milepost 5) and you’ll find a place where ATV enthusiasts abound because of the sprawling sand dunes there. The dunes are so large they’re often referred to as, “The Other Dunes on the Oregon Coast.”
Sand Beach is divided into three areas, each with its own attraction and campers. There’s the east Dunes campground, the West Winds campground area, and the Fisherman Day-Use area. Numerous sandy trails weave in and out and meander throughout the small, brownish pines among more than 100 campsites. There are unofficial camping areas where people bed down in an open sandy area. Fortunately, it’s cordoned off from the ATV’s. Hence, there are no reservations or designated spots in this first come, first serve area, but the rest of the official campground requires reservations.
Camping – Facilities:
- Picnic tables
- Vault and flush toilets
- Fire rings
- Drinking water
Dogs and Horses on the Beach
What fun is playing on the beach if you can’t bring your best friend, your horse, or your dog? Fortunately, there are lots of beaches and campgrounds that welcome dogs and horses. However, there are rules, but they’re mostly courtesy and common-sense requests:
If you bring a domestic animal to the beach, you are responsible for the animal’s behavior while on the ocean shore area, which means the following:
- Exercising direct control over the animal while in the ocean shore state recreation area. “Direct control” means that the animal is within the unobstructed sight of the handler and responds to voice commands or other methods of control;
- Carrying a leash or restraining device at all times while in the ocean shore state recreation area and promptly leashing animals at the request or order of a park employee;
- Preventing animals from harassing people, wildlife, and other domestic animals;
- Ensuring animals are not hitched or confined in a manner that may cause damage to any natural resources on the ocean shore; an
- Removing the animal’s waste while in the ocean shore state recreation area.
If you do bring your dog, pet, horse to the beach check with the area you’re visiting to ensure it’s one of the areas where animals are welcome. Some sites have restrictions about being close to bird sanctuaries or on wet sand, or near Oregon Coast Camping sites.
Campfires on the Beach
The reason so many beach movies show people partying around a bonfire on the beach is because it’s fun. Nothing says wrapping up a great day at the ocean than a bonfire, a cooler of your favorite beverages, and your favorite beach food baking, steaming, or cooking on the fire. The good news is, yes, you can still have a campfire on the beach, but not on every beach, and you’re limited to what kinds and size of fires are allowed.
According to the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, you may have a fire on the beach if:
- It’s not prohibited by local or specific campgrounds, towns, or cities.
- You use small pieces of wood only. Large logs are prohibited
- The fire is west of the vegetation line, NO EXCEPTIONS
- You build your fire away from the beach grass & piles of driftwood
- You extinguish the fire with water. Don’t just bury it. Doing this will allow the fire to remain hot and continue to smolder for hours. Therefore, this could also cause someone to get burned.
Can I Drive On the Beach?
If you’re like most Americans who grew up driving up and down a beach, when you camp somewhere as beautiful as Oregon Coast camping, you want to relive the freedom. The smell of salt in the air, and the wind in your face as you cruise up or down the coast. Fortunately, there are places along the Oregon Coast where you are allowed to drive on the beach. However, that doesn’t mean you can drive on every beach. Driving on some beaches are restricted to certain times of the year, and some beaches forbid all vehicles, including scooters and bicycles. The information of when and where there is beach vehicle accessibility can be found on the left side of the Official Oregon State map put out by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) – Contact (503) 986-4000 for a copy of the map.
Website Information Click HERE.
7 Popular Oregon Coast Campgrounds
Hart’s Camp – Airstream Camping without an Airstream
Let’s face it, not all of us are content with sand between our toes after we leave the beach, or any of the “roughing it,” aspects of camping on the coast. We want luxury and lots of it while visiting the Oregon coast camping. Therefore, for you, there’s Hart’s Camp – where there is luxury Airstream glamping (glamorous + camping = glamping) for everyone. You don’t have to own an Airstream. You just have to be ready to rent one of the eight Airstreams permanently situated onsite and already packed to the ceiling with simple luxuries, like wooden decks to lounge on, hot water, outdoor showers, and a style that fits your own. Additionally, about half of the Airstreams are pet-friendly, so your dirt averse dog can be happy and cool too. Airstream #1 for instance has:
- Four twin beds in bunk style
- Full indoor bathrooms and kitchens
- All dishes, cookware and luxury linens provided
- Coffee maker with a starter pack of coffee
- Flat screen TV with cable
- Outdoor shower with living plant wall
- Gas grill with propane
- Private, fenced outdoor living space with lush green grass
- Fire pit with one bundle of firewood ready to burn
- Two Adirondack chairs and picnic table
- European-style bikes
Beverly Beach Campground
This is one of the best campgrounds on the Oregon coastline – which is why it’s often booked up a year in advance. When you camp at Beverly Beach, you’re literally a two-minute walk from the beach, via a trail under the 101 overpass. As a result, you get the best of both worlds, the sun, sand, ocean, and beach while still enjoying the experience of camping on forested grounds with a small gurgling Spencer Creek trickling along beside the campground.
If you have a family, you’re more likely to enjoy this campground – as it’s large and popular with big groups and families. However, if you’re more into a solo scene, you can still find a more isolated hiker/biker site where you can escape the camping crowds. Beverly gives you full hookup sites, electrical sites with water, tent sites with nearby water, 21 yurts, (2 of which are pet-friendly), picnic tables, fire rings, 3 seasonal group camping areas, flush toilets, hot showers and a yurt meeting hall.
Campsites – facilities:
- Full hookup sites
- Electrical sites with water
- Tent sites with nearby water
- 21 Yurts (two are pet-friendly) and a yurt meeting hall
- Picnic tables
- Fire Rings
- Three seasonal group camping areas
- Flush toilets
- Hot Showers
- Dump Station
- Wind sports
Sunset Bay State Park
Sunset Bay State Park is actually on the bay. Home to the Oregon coast’s only real swimming beach and adjacent to several of the southern Oregon coast camping top sights, this is one of the state’s most popular campgrounds.
Campsites – facilities:
- There are 66 sites for tents or self-contained RVs
- The camp has eight yurts
- There are two group camps. One camp holds up to 25, and the other for 250 people.
- There are 63 sites with full or partial hookups for tents or RVs up to 47 feet long
- There is a separate camping area for hikers and bicyclists
- Drinking water, picnic tables, garbage bins, and fire grills are provided.
- Restrooms with flush toilets and showers
- For boaters and anglers, there’s a fish-cleaning station and a boat ramp
- Firewood is available.
- A camp host is onsite.
- A gazebo and meeting hall can be reserved at nearby Shore Acres
- A restaurant is within three miles
- Some facilities are wheelchair accessible
- Leashed pets are permitted, except in the yurts; although one yurt is pet-friendly.
Camp Blanco State Park
If you love lighthouses or want to bring your horses, you’ll love camping at Camp Blanco State Park. Cape Blanco is the most southern of Oregon’s lighthouses and is the westernmost point in Oregon. Proposed in 1864, it was the first lighthouse in the state outfitted with a first-order Fresnel lens, a type of compact lens originally developed by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel for lighthouses. in 1870. As a result, there are 7 miles of horse trails the park has a horse camp with facilities for those who want to bring their horses.
The group camp holds a maximum of 50 people. The campground can accommodate up to 24 vehicles, including five or more self-contained RVs. However, if you expect to have more than five RVs or 24 total vehicles, call the park 541-332-2973.
Campsites – facilities:
- 52 electrical sites with water (first come, first served)
- Four fire rings
- Four picnic tables
- Four water spigots
- Four reservable standard cabins (two are pet-friendly)
- Reservable horse camp with eight primitive sites (two pull-through)
- Reservable group camp
- Hiker/biker camp
- Firewood for sale
- Flush and vault toilets and hot showers (in main campground ¼ mile away)
- Universal Access
- Six sites and one cabin are accessible to campers with disabilities.
Harris Beach State Park
Like many of Oregon’s coastal campgrounds, Harris Beach State Park is open for camping year round. Located in a grove of spruce and just north of Brookings. The park is owned and operated by the State of Oregon. It’s the southernmost coastal campground in the Oregon State Park System and located 2 miles north of Brookings, Oregon and just 7 miles north of the California/Oregon border.
However, the campground itself is situated on a bluff above the ocean, there is a paved road from the campground down to the day use area at the ocean’s edge. If you love wildlife, watch for gray whales on their winter and spring migrations. Expect to see Harbor seals, and California sea lions as well. However, if you’re a birdwatcher, you’ll be entranced. Just offshore is the largest island on the coast of Oregon – Bird Island (also called Goat Island). The island is a National Wildlife Sanctuary and breeding site for such rare birds as the tufted puffin.
There are two host sites, 155 sites total, 54 tent sites, 28 standard sites, 63 full-service hookup sites, and 6 yurts.
- Flush toilets
- RV and tent camping
- One ADA standard site
- A meeting hall for group use
- Nearby restaurants, grocery shopping and services available in nearby Brookings, less than 2 miles south of the park
- Hot showers
- Firewood for sale
- Several camp hosts
Humbug State Park
Once known as “Sugarloaf Mountain,” the mountain was renamed “Tichenor’s Humbug” after an exploring party sent forth from Port Orford by townsite developer Captain William Tichenor in 1851 mistakenly went south instead of north, toward the mountain. Eventually, the name was shortened to Humbug Mountain. The mountain was developed in 1934 using Civilian Conservation Corps forces. By 1952, overnight camping was developed to offer visitors the option to camp as well as climb and sightsee. While this Oregon Coast camping site has great views and plenty of hiking and riding trails, the annual overnight attendance is only 42,251 – a number equal to a week’s worth of visitors at other Oregon Coast camping sites. The beach is a mere 1/4 mile from the campground. Some sites are heavily vegetated, providing more privacy than others. As a result, many sites are shaded, making this a great family campsite.
The campground is open year-round.
- 39 electrical sites with water (five pull-through)
- 56 tent sites with water nearby
- Hot showers and flush toilets
- Hiker/biker camp
- Firewood for sale
- Universal Access with two electrical sites accessible to campers with disabilities.
Barview Jetty County Park
Run by Tillamook County, you’ll find about 293 campsites sitting on the edge of Tillamook Bay, overlooking both the bay and the ocean.
- Restrooms with flush toilets
- Hot Showers
- RV hookups
- 219 Tent sites
- 69 RV sites
Accessible Campgrounds Along Oregon Coastline
According to the US Park and National Park ground, more than 50% of visitors to national parks and campgrounds are physically challenged – either through a permanent or temporary health or physical condition or through age and disability. More than 800,000 Oregon adults age 18 and older have a disability. This is almost one third (27.3%) of the adult population of Oregon.
Therefore, if you want to camp or access Oregon’s accessible parks and recreation areas, you can start with this list. Most parks will also list any accessible sites on their website – although most campgrounds only have one or two sites – mostly to accommodate or meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and accessible bathrooms. New construction requires public agencies to meet ADA standards, but in the real world of the outdoors (mostly trails), this isn’t always possible. As a result, many campgrounds have developed accessible sites since ADA became law in 1990.
South Beach State Park – Oregon Coast Camping
A 370-foot long boardwalk to a 20-foot high oceanview platform, plus a mile long 10-foot wide paved trail to town, means both powered and non-powered wheelchairs, and walkers can easily enjoy an ocean view.
Lost Lake Campground – Oregon Coast Camping
Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood’s classic setting is the backdrop for this campground located northeast of the state’s highest peak. This park serves all comers with barrier-free camping plus an accessible trail along the lake that weaves through an old-growth forest.
Other accessible recreation sites and Oregon Coast Campgrounds:
Horsfall Beach (boardwalk)
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
Stub Stewart State Park
Detroit Lake State Park and Hoover campground
Willamette National Forest
William Tugman State Park
Loon Lake Recreation Area