The Oregon Coast is one of our favorite places to visit, and options for Oregon coast camping are plentiful! There are so many options for both tent camping and RV camping at Oregon State Parks. Plus the views are amazing and there are a lot of fun things to do up and down the coast.
For this post we have asked Heather from 4 Radical Road Schoolers And A Fat Cat to share some insights and tips on camping up the Oregon Coast. Her and her family also travel full time in their RV so they are a great resource for top camping places!
I’ll share with you the places we visited while traveling north up the coast, along with information about the state parks where we camped.
If you don’t have an RV, a road trip up the Oregon coast would be a great opportunity to rent one and try it out. Learn more about renting an RV for your Oregon road trip here!
If this is your first time camping here is a great post on what to buy for your first camping trip.
Table of Contents
Bullards Beach State Park
The first Oregon coast campground we stayed at was in Bandon, Oregon at Bullards Beach State Park. It was June when we were there and it was still quite chilly, although from what I understand it never really gets hot on the Oregon coast. There was a ¾ mile nature trail from the campground to the beach, and the beach was never crowded while we were there.
We enjoyed visiting so many amazing lighthouses along the Oregon Coast. The Coquille River Lighthouse is located right at Bullards Beach State Park. The Coquille River leads to the Pacific Ocean, and the lighthouse was built to assist with boats trying to navigate the river that was dangerous due to the rocks.
A really fun place to visit in Bandon is the West Coast Game Park Safari where you can pet animals that roam throughout the park like deer and donkeys. You can also pet baby bears, tigers and several other typically dangerous animals during exhibits throughout the day.
We purchased food for the animals as we entered the park, and the deer swarmed us the minute we walked through the gate. We thought the alpacas were especially cute!
A couple of other must-do items in Bandon are the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint and the Face Rock Creamery. The scenery along the coast is incredible!
There are usually tide pools near the rocks during low tide where you’ll see many beautiful and colorful sea creatures like starfish, sea anemones and sea urchins. At the creamery we tried cheese samples and yummy ice cream.
South Beach State Park
Our next stop on our Oregon coast road trip was South Beach State Park in Newport which is in central Oregon. This park was very crowded and busy, but the location was excellent for exploring Newport. Our favorite part of this park was the short ¼ mile paved path to the beach and the paved bike trails. We rode the bike trails to the Port of Newport fishing pier and the Yaquina Bay Bridge.
Rogue Brewery is right there at the bridge, and we enjoyed the brewery tour one evening. The tour is fun for kids too! Kids get root beer while the adults get to sample the real stuff.
The tour also includes a fun ride on a train to the different buildings on the tour. We loved being able to ride our bikes back to the campground after hanging out at the brewery for awhile.
Hatfield Marine Science Center
The Hatfield Marine Science Center is also near the brewery which we went to on a different day. This is a small science center that is part of the Oregon State University and it’s free to get in, however they do appreciate donations. There was a beautiful display of sea creatures that you can sometimes find in the tide pools in the area.
We visited 2 lighthouses while in the Newport area, Yaquina and Heceta Head Lighthouses. Yaquina Head was our favorite, and it is also the tallest lighthouse in Oregon at 93 feet. We were able to tour the inside which made it even better.
The tours are free, but if you go on a weekend (or possibly even a weekday in the summer) it’s not likely you’ll get a spot. We reserved a tour ahead of time online for a nominal fee, and when we showed up on a Saturday they did not have any spots left for anyone that had not reserved online.
I thought it was worth the small fee since we were planning to visit on a Saturday in the summer, and it was nice to know we had a spot.
The lighthouse tour was great! The tour guide explained the history of the lighthouse and its keepers. She explained about the oil they used, and how much they needed at various times of the year depending on how much daylight there was at that time of the year.
We were able to walk up to the top of the lighthouse and see the light going on and off.
About 13 miles north of Newport is Depoe Bay where there are opportunities to go on a whale watching tour and check out the Otter Crest Loop. We enjoyed playing in the low tide at the sand spit in Otter Crest before the tide came back in.
Also at Otter Crest we were amazed by the Devil’s Punchbowl which is a large rock hole that water from the Pacific fills in at high tide and goes out at low tide. We were there at low tide when it was nearly empty.
Cape Perpetua is 26 miles south of Newport, and definitely worth a visit. It is best visited at high tide because there are some amazing displays of the Pacific during high tide.
Sometimes pictures just do not do it justice and a video is a better representation. This video of Thor’s Well shows the crater that fills and empties continuously during high tide.
Seal Rock State Recreation Site
Seal Rock State Recreation Site is 10 miles south of Newport, and best visited during low tide for the beautiful tide pools. We saw lots of sea anemones in these tide pools.
Cape Lookout State Park
Continuing north up the coast, we camped at Cape Lookout State Park in Tillamook. This park has some amazing sunsets, but we found out it was not exactly big rig friendly.
At the time we had a 41 foot 5th wheel, and we barely fit in our site. Most other campers around us were in tent sites, so that was a little awkward because several people wondered out loud about why we were there in such a big camper. 😉
While in Tillamook, a must-do is the Tillamook Cheese Factory where you can tour the factory, sample cheese and, of course, have some yummy ice cream.
We also went to visit the Cape Meares Lighthouse, the shortest lighthouse in Oregon at only 38 feet. Near the lighthouse you can see a Sitka spruce tree known as the famous Octopus Tree. It is shaped like an upside-down octopus.
Nehalem Bay State Park
Our next stop was Nehalem Bay State Park. This was a really nice park situated in between the bay and the ocean. It also has a paved bike trail.
We spent more time playing on the bay side because the ocean side was very cold and windy while we were there. From there it was easy to visit several awesome spots like Cannon Beach just 16 miles north.
Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach was made famous by The Goonies movie in the 1980s. This rock is an excellent place to explore tide pools during low tide. We saw colorful starfish as well as lots of sea anemones.
Hug Point State Recreation Site And Ecola State Park
Just 7 miles south of Haystack Rock is Hug Point State Recreation Site where you can explore caves and tide pools. Ecola State Park is only 3 miles north of Haystack Rock where you can see amazing views of the coast. There are some beautiful hiking trails at both of these places.
Another fun activity to do in this area is the train ride on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad between Rockaway Beach and Garibaldi. This is a scenic and open air train ride along the coast.
We started at Rockaway Beach, and when we arrived at Garibaldi we had a short amount of time to get off the train and explore a bit before it was time to get back on the train for the ride back to Rockaway.
Fort Stevens State Park
Our last stop in Oregon was Fort Stevens State Park in the northwest corner of Oregon near the beautiful city of Astoria. This was my favorite state park we stayed at in Oregon. It was huge and so many of the RV sites have some trees and privacy. The best part of the park was the miles of paved bike trails and historical places to visit.
Fort And Shipwreck
We toured the fort and a shipwreck on the beach. Fort Stevens was in service from the Civil War to World War II and guarded the mouth of the Columbia River.
The Peter Iredale ship ran ashore in 1906 and the wreckage is now a tourist attraction on the beach at Fort Stevens. Kids love climbing on the shipwreck.
While in Astoria we visited Fort Clatsop Lewis and Clark National Historic Park where we learned about how the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped at Fort Clatsop during the winter of 1805-1806.
After touring Fort Clatsop we explored the beautiful city of Astoria and had lunch at Mo’s. There are several Mo’s restaurants along the Oregon coast and they have the best clam chowder.
To get some exercise and work off that lunch from Mo’s, we climbed the 164 steps to the top of the Astoria Column where we were rewarded with a gorgeous view of the Columbia River and the Astoria-Megler Bridge that goes to Washington.
The summer months are definitely the best time for Oregon coast camping. The weather is typically nice at that time of the year, but it is also the most crowded time to visit. I’ve heard it’s wonderful to visit in the spring and fall when the parks are not so crowded.
There are a lot of great things to do in Astoria, Oregon!
More Oregon Info
There are so many other places to visit along the Oregon coast that we haven’t made it to yet. That just gives us a reason to return again someday. Between Newport and Tillamook is Lincoln City. This is a great article with information on things to do in Lincoln City: 7 Things Not To Miss In Lincoln City.
Beverly Beach State Park is near Lincoln City and looks like a fabulous Oregon coast campground. We did not get a chance to stay there because they did not have any spots available when we were there. We hope we can stay there next time.
Oregon state parks have a 9 month booking window so it’s hard to get spots unless you book way in advance. However you can snag cancellations which is how we were able to stay at so many. Harris Beach State Park in Brookings looks like a great place to stay, but it was also unavailable when we were in the area.
I was very impressed with the Oregon State Park system. There are so many to choose from and all the parks we visited were just beautiful. The campgrounds we stayed at all had flushing toilets and hot showers. Some also had alternative camping options like cabins and yurts.
If you would like to visit several Oregon state parks and do not plan to stay in the campgrounds, it might be worth purchasing an Oregon Coast passport. It is valid for entrance to the state parks as well as U.S. Forest Service, BLM lands and National Park Service sites along the Oregon coast.
Check out the Oregon State Parks website for more details on park passes and to find a campground.
More Fun Things To Do On The Oregon Coast
Oregon Coast Day Tour Explore Oregon’s Coastline with a guide
Cannon Beach, Trails & Forest Tour This 7.5 hour guided tour explores the beauty of Oregon’s coast
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