Your Central Oregon Coast Camping Adventures Await
The kids are back in school and the weather is mild with a crispness just starting to creep into the air, which makes autumn the perfect time to snag a primo campsite on the Coast. Just a few-hour drive from Portland, the Willamette Valley or Southern Oregon, the Central Coast is a lovely spot to make your camping homebase, with a bounty of adventures that will please everyone in the family. Here’s where to go and what to do this fall.
Kites and treasure hunts in Lincoln City
Camp at Devils Lake State Recreation Area and bring your kite to the the Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival (Oct. 6-7, 2018) at D River State Recreation Site, a 10-minute walk away. If you prefer beds to sleeping in a tent, there are 10 yurts here, five of them pet-friendly. Stargaze and unwind after a day at the beach or lake; Devils Lake is a quick trail walk from the campground, where you can also bring your canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard for paddling fun.Lincoln City’s Finders Keepers treasure hunt also kicks off Oct. 13, 2018, so keep your eyes on the prize along those seven miles of coastline.
Fossils and whales near Beverly Beach
Camp at Beverly Beach State Park, with easy access to the sandy shores north of Yaquina Head, where you can see the lighthouse and headlands of Otter Rock. Bring your bucket for fossils and agates and seek out a ranger talk to learn more; this is prime beachcombing territory. Six miles north, the Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center is the place to spot gray whales as they feed along Oregon’s coastline, noticeable by their spout. You can bring your own binoculars or borrow some here.
Sea life and jetties in Newport
Camp at South Beach State Park in South Newport, where you can walk, run or ride your bike down the paved jetty and fall asleep to the sound of the pounding surf from your tent site or yurt (27 yurts available, 14 of which are pet-friendly). Just five minutes north, head over to the Oregon Coast Aquarium or Hatfield Marine Science Center for hands-on fun and learning about marine ecosystems and conservation initiatives along Oregon’s shorelines. From sea otters and anemone to sharks and the shy Giant Pacific Octopus, there’s easily a few days worth of excitement here.
Sea lions and lighthouses near Heceta Head
Camp at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park and visit the Sea Lion Caves, where Steller sea lions and their pups take shelter every year. Learn all about these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. At your campground, find miles of trails to the beach for whale-watching, agate hunting and sandcastle building, as well as to the scenic Heceta Head Lighthouse, 205 feet above the ocean and one of the most photographed on the coast. Visitors can walk around the base and take a tour of the lighthouse’s interior after September, when it reopens after repairs. (You can stay in the assistant lighthouse keeper’s, too; it’s a lovely bed-and-breakfast.)
Sand dunes and trails in Florence
Camp at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park and play at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, portions of which are easily accessed via walking trails from the campground. The dunes extend for 40 miles of the coastline, so head to your favorite spot or consider exploring another. Just be aware that March 15 through September 15 is nesting season for the western snowy plover, so visitors need to share the beach with these threatened shorebirds. On certain beaches, activities are limited to walking on the wet sand to protect plover nests in the dry sand. Before you go, find out where activities like dog walking, kite flying, and exploring the dunes are allowed. Bring a windbreaker (and a kite, if you dare) since it gets quite windy up here. There’s no feeling like trekking up and sliding down again. Several local outfitters make it easy to explore the area by dune buggy, sandboard, horseback and more.
By Jen Anderson
Photo of Beverly Beach State Park by Jennifer Buchanan / Alamy Stock Photo