Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, 1-2 days, June
Above: This picture was taken where no motorized vehicles are
allowed. However, we walked about 300 feet from this particular spot and
watched some dune buggy's come over the top of the dunes and ride along
the seashore. I don't remember seeing any signs allowing this, but there
were two families that had fires going on the beach.
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is in the city of Florence
which is at the northern end of the dunes. These sand dunes are about
47 miles long running from mouth of the Siuslaw River in Florence to Cape
Blanco in Coos Bay. They are the largest coastal sand dunes in the U.S.
The dunes reach up to 500 feet above sea level and go inland for about
2 1/2 miles. Just at midpoint in the town of Reedsport the Umpqua River
flows into Winchester Bay and the Pacific ocean. The winds are constantly
reshaping the dunes daily. The entire dunes area has a variety of ecosystems
ranging from conifer tree to marshlands.
Above: This picture was taken on US 101 coming from the north.
It's hard to appreciate the scale of these dunes unless you really get
out of your vehicle to hike or rent an ATV. It's not like you see miles
of hilly Sahara looking sand dunes from the highway, you don't.
The Oregon Dunes National Rec Area also known as Sahara by the Sea consists
of 47 miles of beach property where giant white sand dunes have swallowed
huge conifer pine trees over hundreds of years. This is the largest and
most extensive oceanfront dune formation in the world. It is in between
the cities of Yachats and Florence. The forestry service have made parts
of this area a massive off road vehicle park and there were many people
riding jeeps, atv's, and motorcycles up and down the super high dunes
and onto the beach.
Above: Oregon Dune National Rec Area in Florence Oregon is very
popular during holiday weekends.
Traveling along US101 you will find many accessible roads leading to
the dunes. Obviously, the dunes are along the coast but you also have
the typical beach activities as well. But more fun than laying out on
the beach has to be the dune buggy and ATV rides up and down these rolling
mounds of sand. There are plenty of state park camping facilities and
private campgrounds along the 47 mile stretch that cater to dune junkies.
There are sections of the beach and dunes that are off limits to off-highway
vehicles and that's where we went. The dune was so steep that we walked
over to get the beach that walking up and down was a total leg workout.
There were less than 20 people walking and sitting on the beach and a
few people were hanging around their beach fire. A few hundred feet from
where we parked were ATVs and dune buggys riding along the coast and running
up and down the dunes.
If you don't have a quad or don't want to rent one but still want to
explore the dunes there are quiet coastal forest trails for hiking. The
forests consists of Sitka spruce and Douglas fir and the terrain can easily
go from soft sand dunes to low lying wetlands. However, if you prefer
water instead of sand than you are in luck as well. Stretching the length
of the sand dunes from Florence to Coos Bay are 30 lakes, ponds and streams
for kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, scuba diving, swimming, fishing
and even sailing. And 17 of those lakes are in the Florence area. Ocean
side you can go clamming, crabbing or fishing. Horseback riding is also
very popular on the dunes.
Above: This picture was taken from the top of a sand dune coming
from the parking lot. This particular beach is for pedestrians only.
Above: I took this picture from the bottom of this larger than
life sand dune while Jason was just coming up to the top. It is difficult
to totally understand the size of this dune compared to a typical and
more common sand dune that you might come across while at beach on the
southern Atlantic coast.
Florence is a small town but because of the popular Oregon dunes it has
everything what you will need for your trip to central Oregon. Historic
Old Town Florence has revived waterfront buildings which makes for a relaxing
day strolling the boutiques, art galleries and antique stores. There are
coffee houses and restaurants as well. Summer fog is common along the
entire coast, however temperatures remain mild throughout the year in
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
This page is part of a 20 day, 2,866 mile, Vanabode trip.
See van camping Nevada Washington Oregon Canada for an overview of this particular trip.
Visit travel destinations for our master list of 100's of cool places visited that we have reviews on.
Vanabode travel and live anywhere in America on $20 a day including food, lodging and transportation.