Camping on the Oregon Coast (with a dog)
The Oregon Coast, also known as “The People’s Coast“, is all public land. I had heard you can camp on the beach (also known as “dispersed camping” — not in a designated site) provided you follow a few conditions, like:
- Don’t camp in state parks unless you’ve reserved a designated site
- Don’t camp within site of a residence
- Don’t camp within city limits
However, I couldn’t find much official information to verify any of this. I also couldn’t find a good list of places for walk-in dispersed camping.
Ben and I decided to give it a try anyway. We kept things extra complicated by bringing our dog Kai along 🙂
Where we camped
First we drove to a potential camping spot in the Oregon Dunes we’d read about in a library book, but because of the endangered snowy plover bird that area of the beach was closed to dogs, so we moved along. (Kai would for sure have wanted to meet the snowy plovers!)
Then we turned around and started pulling off at a random areas to see what we could find. For awhile we thought we’d end the day back in Seattle, but we eventually found a perfect area: South Jetty Beach Parking #1 in the Siuslaw National Forest. I read the signs 3x to be sure there were no restrictions on overnight parking, camping, or dogs. The only restriction I saw was no campfires allowed. We also needed a recreation pass for this area, and the National Forest Pass we keep in our car and renew each summer was acceptable.
The beach was a short walk up a big hill. Ben and I had our backpacks ready to hike in several miles, but we were able to make a few trips back and forth so we could even make use of the camping chairs we had stashed in the trunk of our car.
Bonus: bathrooms in the parking lot I try to be all into backpacking but let’s be honest — with the car just a short walk away and access to bathrooms — that’s my style of camping!
As we were eating dinner Ben saw a spray out in the ocean, and we realized we were seeing a pod of whales. I read later that about 200 gray whales live off of the Oregon Coast in the summer months so it’s fairly common to see them.
Our whale friends stayed in the area for several hours, though we never saw much of their bodies jump up out of the water.
Tips for camping on the oregon coast
- Be Prepared for Rain and Fog – Clouds rolled in almost as soon as we got to the beach, it started misting overnight, and the morning was foggy. It was good we had a rain fly to cover our tent and keep us dry.
- Be Prepared for Sand – All of our gear had to be thoroughly shook out when we got home because everything had sand in it.
- Go South – From what I understand, the southern Oregon coast is less developed and has more areas to camp. We drove about six hours from Seattle to the area we camped. And yes, we are a little crazy for doing this in a weekend.
- Follow the Rules – We made sure to take note of the signage and not camp in areas where it was clearly not allowed. To the best of my knowledge we found a spot that was cleared to camp.
- Stop in Town – The towns along the coast are lovely and definitely worth exploring! We stopped for coffee in Florence, Oregon before finding our campsite.
^Making dinner on the beach
^Morning coffee is always my favorite part of camping!
When we arrived a lot of people were enjoying daytime on the beach but after 3 pm it cleared out quickly. I saw two other tents on the beach, but they were far from us. There was plenty of beach for everyone to find a private spot.
Have you spent time on the Oregon coast? I really want to learn more about this area and the best ways to spend time here. I reserved two more library books after we got back to see what I can find out. Please leave a comment with your experience too!