Oregon’s rugged coastline is gorgeous, with many famous rock formations. This attracts visitors from around the world. Part of the reason this scenic beauty is so pristine is Oregon’s public beach bill. This prevents development and private ownership of Oregon’s beaches. With the public technically owning the beaches, many want to camp on them. But can you?
It is illegal to camp on most of Oregon’s beaches. Even Bastendorff Beach near Coos Bay and Winema Wayside near Cloverdale have been re-zoned to day-use only. However, there are many coastal campgrounds up and down the state where visitors are welcome to camp.
As sweet as it sounds to camp on an Oregon beach, the reality is far from pleasant. The sand gets everywhere, there are no facilities, and Oregon’s beaches are infamous for sneaker waves that can exceed the high-tide line, drenching you and your tent or causing death. Thus, Oregon’s coastal campgrounds are placed slightly back to keep everyone dry and safe.
The Rules Surrounding Oregon Beach Camping
It is legal to camp on Oregon beaches, technically speaking. However, the many caveats to Oregon’s beach laws mean that it is almost always illegal to camp on the beach. For example, from March 15 to September 15, it is western snowy plover nesting season, where all camping on beaches is prohibited.
In addition, Oregon Law does not allow beach camping adjacent to any Oregon State Park or within the city limits of the following:
- Cannon Beach
- Lincoln City
- Gold Beach
- Rockaway Beach
Even Bastendorff Beach and Winema Wayside, which used to allow free beach camping, are now day-use only. However, there is a Bastendorff Beach campground.
Where Are The Legal Oregon Beach Camping Spots?
Oregon is pretty secretive about where you can pitch a tent on the coast without breaking the law. This vague advice is particularly frustrating for hikers making the 362-mile Oregon Coast Trail. But the official visitor’s site only states, “The places where one can camp on the beach tend to be remote,” and for further clarification, “[They are] far from the road, and not accessible by automobile.”
As mentioned above, the two spots that were well known, Bastendorf Beach and Winema Wayside, are no longer overnight options.
Can You Have A Campfire On An Oregon Beach?
Having a campfire on an Oregon beach is a lot easier than camping on one. The rules surrounding a beach campfire are as follows:
- Fire must be built west of the vegetation line
- Fire must be away from any beach grass or driftwood
- Fire can only be built using small pieces of wood; the use of logs is illegal
- Fire must be extinguished using water
8 Oregon Campgrounds Near The Beach
Oregon has a wealth of coastal campgrounds, some of which have views of the beach or are practically on it. Unfortunately, unlike dispersed camping, you do have to pay a fee at most of these places. How much depends on the campground. We’ve rounded up eight for you to consider.
1 – Cape Blanco State Park: Oregon Beach Camping
Cape Blanco State Park has 52 campsites with electrical hookups and water that feed into a beach trail on the Southern Oregon Coast. They also cater to horse campers. The park sits on the State’s western most tip and features the 19th-century lighthouse. In addition to its easy access to the beach, there are hiking and biking trails to enjoy.
2 – Cape Lookout State Park: Oregon Beach Camping
Cape Lookout State Park sits only just back from the beach, making it easily accessible. There are 35 full-hookup sites, 170 tent sites with nearby water, 13 rustic yurts, 6 deluxe cabins, and hiker/biker camp. Two campsites and a cabin meet disability access requirements.
3 – Harris Beach State Campground: Oregon Beach Camping
Harris Beach State Campground is only a quarter-mile from the beach. The semi-private sites all have access to facilities with flushing toilets and hot showers. Nearby is a golf course, redwoods, trails, and a marina.
4 – Tillicum Beach Campground: Oregon Beach Camping
Tillicum Beach Campground is situated inside the Siuslaw National Forest and is loved because most of its 61 campsites sport beach views. Consequently, it is an incredibly popular campground, and reservations are practically a must.
5 – Tillamook Head Backpackers: Oregon Beach Camping
Tillamook Head Backpackers Campground is, unusually, a free primitive camping area with no drinking water. However, the area does have a small parking fee at the head of the trail for those who are only doing the modest 1.6 miles in. The area’s claim to fame is being the farthest Western Point reached by Lewis and Clark.
6 – South Beach State Park: Oregon Beach Camping
South Beach State Park Campground near Newport sits just behind the Old Jetty Trail that runs along the beach. They have 227 electrical sites with water, 60 tent sites, 27 yurts, three group tent camps, and hiker/biker camp. Flush toilets and showers are also on site. Additionally, 5 sites meet disabled access requirements.
7 – Sunset Bay State Park: Oregon Beach Camping
Sunset Bay State Park Campground sits just a short walk from this protected beach, near Shore Acres and Cape Arago. They have 30 full-hookup sites, 35 with water, 65 tent sites with nearby water, 8 yurts, and flush toilets and hot showers. Three campsites and 3 yurts are meet disability access guidelines. In addition to the sandy beach, there are many trails to explore.
8 – Umpqua Lighthouse State Park: Oregon Beach Camping
Umpqua Lighthouse State Park Campground is right near one of the best crabbing spots on the Oregon Coast. The camp is also only 1.5 miles from the dunes for OHV fun. The campground has 10 full hookup sites, 7 electric with water, over 20 tent sites with nearby water, two rustic yurts, six deluxe yurts, and two rustic log cabins.
Camping on the beach in Oregon may technically be legal, but it is nearly impossible to do. Thankfully, they have an abundance of coastal campgrounds, and our top eight are a mere fraction of the possibilities. Remember, campfires are permitted on Oregon’s beaches; just keep them away from vegetation, use small pieces of wood, and put them out when done.