Learn how even more visitors are welcome on beaches, waterways and trails.
The Oregon Coast invites relaxation and contemplation with its windswept beaches and craggy oceanside cliffs. Those who may want to enjoy the stunning scenery at a slower pace (or roll) will find an increasingly bountiful number of accessible beaches, waterways and trails with spectacular views from Astoria to Brookings.
For anyone who finds themselves using a wheelchair or mobility aid, pushing a stroller or pulling a wagon, coastal communities are trying to make it easier to take in the natural beauty. More visitors are now able — thanks to Oregon State Parks’ improvements in Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant facilities and paths, as well as a host of other accessibility improvements in Oregon Coast outdoor spaces — to wiggle their toes in the sand, paddle on a quiet river or reel in a largemouth bass.
Here are a few great places to see the Oregon Coast at your own pace. Check out even more accessible destinations on the Oregon Coast Visitors Association’s site to help plan your trip.
Gentle Paths in Beautiful Areas
Well deserving of its name, the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area near Newport entices visitors to travel paved paths overlooking the rocky coast and leading to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Request access to the accessible parking area at Quarry Cove and get up close to seals bobbing near the shore.
Need more wildlife? Grab your binoculars and search for great blue herons, belted kingfishers and bald eagles along the peaceful boardwalks and paths of the interpretive Siltcoos River Lagoon Loop Trail, then ponder majestic sand dunes from platforms at the Oregon Dunes Day Use area.
Farther south, admire the sprawling flower gardens and the Japanese Garden and Lily Pond along the flat, mixed-surface paths at the 7-acre Shore Acres State Park near Coos Bay. Each November and December, Shore Acres creates a lavish outdoor holiday display of 325,000 LED lights — be sure to give the park a call for the latest in accessible parking and advice for successful visits during this busy time.
Innovations in Beach Access
Mobi-Mats are long, nonslip mats installed right on the beach to allow visitors to cross the sand close to the water without the struggle. Three areas along 7 miles of coastline in Lincoln City offer Mobi-Mats from late May through October.
Find beach-friendly wheelchairs at a dozen locations on the Oregon coast; the chairs with chunky tires navigate sandy terrain with ease. Oregon Parks Forever has partnered with David’s Chair Outdoor Mobility Systems to place three new electric all-terrain track chairs in Manzanita, Seaside and Pacific City (once chairs are available, you’ll be able to reserve them here). These quiet battery-powered chairs enable users to traverse both beaches and trails, and they run for six to eight hours on a single charge.
Parks along waterways up and down the Coast provide ADA-compliant ramps leading down to kayak and canoe launches. A smart setup of benches and railings at Broadway Park in Seaside, for example, enables access to the Necanicum River, meandering under bridges and through the historic community. The Port of Alsea near Waldport features a floating launch with rollers, railings and benches so paddlers can safely push off in their kayaks and canoes and head for the tranquil Alsea and Yachats rivers.
Paddlers at the Eel Lake boat ramp at William M. Tugman State Park south of Reedsport can use steps and hand railings to lower themselves into a kayak or canoe and launch into the freshwater lake to glimpse osprey, cranes and deer. At John Topits Park in Coos Bay, nature lovers can now marvel at waterfowl as they paddle peacefully in the Empire Lakes; an ADA-compliant kayak launch was installed in 2023.
ADA-accessible piers and ramps make fishing fun for everyone. In Rockaway Beach, a long, gently sloping ramp at Lake Lytle leads to a 65-acre lake packed with trout, bass and perch. Anglers south of Florence will find a fishing pier at Tahkenitch Landing; a ramp takes you to the edge of forested Tahkenitch Lake, home to largemouth bass, salmon and trout. The Port of Bandon Riverwalk opened a fishing pier in 2022 — its ramps and railings invite anglers to catch perch and rockfish from the Coquille River.
Wildlife Watching and Camping
Fish for salmon and spot gray whales on one of the ADA-compliant boat tours in Depoe Bay. Longing for more speed? Take a wheelchair-accessible guided jet-boat tour of the Rogue River and keep an eye out for river otters, eagles and bears. Just north of the Oregon border in Brookings, bring your binoculars to gaze at 11 different species of seabirds nesting on Goat Island, a National Wildlife Sanctuary visible from an accessible path down to the beach.
Slow-mobility campers may want to check out one of the many accessible campgrounds in Oregon. On the Coast, relax in a heated yurt surrounded by birds and trees at South Beach State Park south of Newport, at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park near Winchester Bay or at Harris Beach State Park in Brookings.
– By Melissa Hart