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5 Amazing Places Hidden In Oregon’s Coastal Forest

5 Amazing Places Hidden In The Siuslaw National Forest – Photo via Flickr Creative Commons

5 Amazing Places Hidden In Oregon’s Coastal Forest

The Oregon Coast has everything you need for a great RV trip: sandy beaches and Pacific Ocean views, many state parks for recreation, lots of places to go whale watching, cozy small towns with shops and restaurants, and of course, the coastal forest with towering mossy trees and greenery.

The Siuslaw National Forest covers a large stretch of the Central Coast from the mountains to the ocean beaches and wind-sculpted sand dunes. It spans from just south of Tillamook to Lincoln City (both towns are day trips of their own), and from south of the Yaquina River to Reedsport. Within these large stretches of forest are several amazing places to camp, hike, and go OHV riding.

Photo via Forest Service
The Siuslaw National Forest—one of only two National Forests that border the Pacific Ocean. Map via Forest Service

Several campgrounds within the Siuslaw National Forest are RV-friendly, however, most of them do not have full hookups or dump stations available.  If hookups are a must, there are additionally lots of RV resorts and RV parks closeby in the many towns along the coast. It’s always best to check RV LIFE Campgrounds and the National Forest website to get a better idea of the campground before visiting.

Once you’ve decided where you’ll camp, check out these amazing places hiding within the Siuslaw. Keep in mind that you’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass for parking, which are available for $30 annually or $5 for a day pass (you can purchase them online here or pay with cash at most sites).

1. Sand Lake Recreation Area

Make your first stop at Sand Lake Recreation Area just southwest of Tillamook. It is also located between Cape Kiwanda and Cape Lookout as a great side trip if you’re driving the Three Capes Scenic Route. This recreation area on the northern end of the Siuslaw Forest has over a thousand acres of wide-open sand dunes to drive on with a quad or mini dune buggy. If you don’t have your own, plenty of rentals are available in the area.

Photo by Bonnie Moreland (Flickr)
Sand Lake Recreation Area. Photo by Bonnie Moreland (Flickr)

The area has three campgrounds that can accommodate RVs. These include the Sandbeach Campground, East Dunes Campground, and West Winds Campground.

All three campgrounds are open year-round and have access to the dunes and the beach. Sandbeach Campground is the only one of the three that allows reservations ahead of time.

2. Drift Creek Falls

As you continue south along the 101, you’ll find there’s lots to see and do around Lincoln City. Plan a stop here and make a trip inland through the forest to see Drift Creek Falls and its accompanying suspension bridge.

You’ll need a smaller vehicle to drive up the winding narrow Forest Service Road 17 to reach the trailhead. This hike is about 2 and a half miles roundtrip with little elevation, making it a very easy and enjoyable walk through the woods for hikers of all ages and skill levels.

Photo by Nikki Cleveland
Drift Creek Falls hiding in the Siuslaw National Forest. Photo by Nikki Cleveland (Author)

The trail passes over a couple of small log bridges before leading up to a huge 240-foot-long suspension bridge that stands 100+ feet over the canyon floor, giving you the ultimate view of Drift Creek Falls below. Don’t worry, the bridge is safe to cross—it’s able to support up to 165,000 lbs!

The trail is dog-friendly as long as they are kept on a leash. Restrooms and pay envelopes for day passes are available at the trailhead. The parking lot gets packed, so arrive early (before noon is best) to guarantee you’ll get a spot and run into fewer crowds.

3. Tillicum Beach Campground

Tillicum Beach Campground is especially popular among RVers for its oceanfront views and paved roads and campsites. Amenities include water and electric hookups as well as easy beach access. Go fishing, swimming, or hiking by day and enjoy some vibrant sunsets over the coast by night.

Siuslaw National Forest
Tillicum Beach Campground in the Siuslaw National Forest. Photo by Clyde Clevenger via RV LIFE Campgrounds

During peak season, you can reserve a site ahead of time on Recreation.gov. During the off-season, the sites are first-come, first-served. They have flush toilets and drinking water at the campground, but no showers available.

4. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

Right off Highway 101 south of Yachats is Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, filled with unique features like Thor’s Well, Sprouting Horn, and Devils Churn. Several overlooks are easily accessible off the highway as well as hiking trails that you can take for a better viewpoint.

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. Photo via Flickr Creative Commons

Swing by the Visitor Center to learn more about the area and to admire their exhibits and beautiful ocean views. There is also a campground in the area with nonelectric sites located among the trees and Cape Creek.

5. Oregon Dunes

Wrap up your trip at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area just outside of Reedsport. This vast area in the southern stretch of the Siuslaw has excellent hiking trails, beach access, and tall sand dunes for OHV riding.

No ATV, no problem—there are rentals available in the area that will have the ATV delivered to a staging area for you. Keep in mind you will need to acquire a permit here for Oregon off-road riding. They cost $10 and must be displayed on your vehicle while driving.

Oregon Dunes. Photo by Rebecca Kennison (Wikipedia Commons)
Oregon Dunes. Photo by Rebecca Kennison (Wikipedia Commons)

Several campgrounds are located in the North and South riding areas with easy access to the dunes, as well as Umpqua Sand Camping in the Middle area. Many of these campgrounds are RV and trailer-friendly, however, there is also a top-rated RV resort nearby in Winchester Bay and a KOA in North Bend.

Start trip planning today

You can find more great campgrounds and points of interest in the area with RV LIFE Trip Wizard and the RV LIFE App. We also recommend checking out these amazing state parks on the Oregon Coast.


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