Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area: Day Use

Are you looking for something different along Oregon’s coast? If so, Oregon Dunes is for you!

The dunes span 40 miles and rise up to 500 fee above the Pacific Ocean. Among the dunes, you can find everything from rivers to rainforests.

We arrived at the dunes from the East via Reedsport and turned northbound. Oregon Dunes’ day use area is north of Gardinar and south of Dunes City.

5 Tips For Enjoying Oregon Dunes Day Use Area

1. Plan Time to Hike.

The day use area consists of a parking lot and a viewing platform. Once you see the view, it may be hard to resists the hike.

A marked trail leading to the ocean is easily to access from the parking lot. There are two main hiking options. One is a 5 mile long loop and the other is a 2 mile, out and back trail to the coast.

We started our hike around noon, hadn’t eaten lunch yet, didn’t pack water or snacks and opted for the shorter of the two trails. For those of you that have hiked in dunes before, there is a constant false sense of distance. Even with knowing that ahead of time, we were all surprised when we rounded a corner and still had not made it to the coast. It is longer than it seems but the trail is clearly marked and well traveled.

Wooden posts mark the trail through the dunes. The trail through the forested sections is obvious. Even on a hot July day, the beach was nearly empty when we arrived. I can’t imagine it ever gets much more crowded. If you are hoping to avoid crowds and get some exercise, this is the place!

View from Oregon Dunes Day Use area hike.

2. Wear Shoes.

The sand can be hot! When you are not walking on hot sand, you may be walking on hard packed forest trails. Don’t leave your shoes at the car and chose your footwear carefully!

Oregon Dunes trail through the forest is easy to follow and diverse!

3. Bring Water and Snacks For An Afternoon At Oregon Dunes Day Use Area.

This seems obvious but we are famous for being underprepared or overprepared. I can’t decide if we are over confident, lazy, or impulsive but it is not unusual for us to check out a hike and end up 2 hours down the trail without snacks.

We started this hike by walking to the viewing platform, then onto the dune, then down the hill, and so on. I think you get the idea! Hiking on the dunes and into the forest was just too much fun and we didn’t want to stop once we started.

Oregon Dunes day use hike

4. Be Prepared For Signs Giving Instructions In Case Of An Earthquake and Tsunami.

For those of you that have spent much time on the Oregon coast, this shouldn’t be too surprising. I typically read the sign and keep walking. By the time I hit the ocean on this hike, I don’t think I could have evacuated very quickly in the event of a tsunami. We all weigh our risk, I guess.

5. Dress For Exposure To The Elements.

In addition to shoes, I would recommend the following items:

Hat

Sun screen

Sunglasses

Beach towel

Bathing Suit

Wind breaker

Oregon Dunes

Have Fun At Oregon Dunes!

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Oregon’s Coast, Manzanita: A Hidden Gem.
Cape Perpetua, Oregon Coast Day-Trip.
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Cape Perpetua, Oregon Coast Day-Trip.

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The Oregon coast offers views and endless access to the ocean. There are so many options that it is hard to decide where to go next. The coast is one of our favorite winter day-trips.

What to pack for a winter day-trip to the Oregon Coast?

Hats, gloves, rain pants, spare socks, spare clothes, winter jackets, sunglasses, and rain jackets.

Our van stays stocked with food and kitchen supplies but I usually make sure that I have plenty of hot cocoa and a fast way to boil water!

You will also need your Interagency Pass and your National Parks Passport book if you have one.

What does Cape Perpetua and the Oregon Coast have to offer?

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area includes 2700 arces of Oregon’s coast. There are views from 800 feet above the shore.

There is a trail system, visitor’s center, ranger programs, and amazing views. Bring your inter-agency pass and settle in for the day.

Visitor’s Center view. Sprinter DIY.

A paved trail, with a tunnel under 101, leads from the visitor’s center to places with names like Devil’s churn and Thor’s well.

The approach down to the Devil’s Churn.

Are There Tide Pools?

There are tide pools. It is worth noting that these are not nearly as robust as the ones a few miles north at Yaquina Head, but none the less, the kids enjoy them.

Where Should We Eat Lunch?

As usual, we are always on the look out for places to park our van and enjoy a good meal. Cape Perpetua does not disappoint!

Head approximately one mile south to Neptune South. It is sure not to disappoint!

The kids love checking out the beach, running through water, splashing in puddles, discovering beach creatures, skipping stones, making dams, and they will continue this all day if I let them!

The pics do not do it justice!

rocks
beach and stones
Neptune South
sun and views
This is crazy sand.
Coast with a view, wind, waves, sun

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