Photo courtesy of Daniel Sherman
The Oregon coastline is famed for its strikingly beautiful scenery, gorgeous beaches, and breathtaking sunsets. One of the best ways to enjoy all these jaw-dropping wonders is by exploring the numerous state parks that dot the coast. With accommodations that range spartan to luxurious, each state park has its own unique feel and attributes. We’ve gathered a list of all that the Oregon State Park system has to offer along the Pacific Ocean. You’ll find plenty of inspiration here for your next road trip!
In the summer, there’s a tropic vibe that is hard to resist at Sunset Bay State Park. Practically a lagoon, the sparkling white sands of the crescent beach paired with bright blue waters make this a particularly appealing beach for families. Calm waters protected by the small opening to the ocean means even the little kids can enjoy a paddle in the water here. A nice day use area away from the beach offers volleyball nets, picnic tables, and horseshoe pits as well as group picnic spots.
One of the most stunning parks in the system, an entire trip can easily be devoted to just this one state park. Humbling geology, the history of the Louis Simpson estate, sea cliffs, and a not-to-be-missed botanical garden are just some of the wonders to be found here. If you find yourself visiting in the winter months, a lighting display takes over the gardens creating a magical coastal scene. Pet owners should be aware, however, that dogs are not allowed out of cars, and the policy is strictly enforced. Please plan your trip accordingly.
A cacophony of sea lions greets visitors at the viewpoint of Cape Arago State Park. With views of Coquille Point and Simpson Reef and Shell Island, you’ll definitely want your camera handy for this park. Divided into north and south sections, each piece has its own beauty to offer. The northern end emphasizes the breathtaking views, while the southern end highlights hiking and private coves. With picnic tables and a day-use area between the two sections, you can even find a protected spot for whale watching here.
Unusually situated, Cape Blanco is the westernmost point of the state of Oregon and also has the southernmost lighthouse in the state. Remote in all aspects, it can be easy to whizz past this park due to the discreet signage off the highway. Because of its low-key advertising, Cape Blanco State Park tends to be a little quieter and less congested than other parks in the area, though camping can fill early during the summer months. Horse camping is available here as well as rustic cabins. With trails straight from the campground, this park makes a wonderful base camp for your travels.
Despite limited hours, the museum at Port Orford Heads State Park is a must-visit. Here you’ll have an opportunity to learn about the hardworking, risk-taking lifeboat crews that once manned this station. Anyone who has witnessed an Oregon coast storm can appreciate the dangers these men faced. The fishermen and sailors that plied the waters here depended on the bravery of these crews. After you’ve absorbed the history, take in a walk along the Port Orford Heads State Park Trails to really grasp the grand scale of the land at work here.
Nestled in along Highway 101, Humbug Mountain State Park Campground is a fantastic wooded retreat for explorers of the southern Oregon coast. Naturally protected from the wilder elements by Humbug Mountain, this campground can be a great spot to ride out unexpected storms. Beach access directly from the camping areas is an added plus. The only downside to the small campground is the occasional road noise that can be heard wafting in from the nearby highway.
A newly created park, Sisters Rock was funded using state lottery money and officially made a state park in 2005. The park is still being developed and is relatively unsigned on the highway, so it sees significantly fewer visitors than most other parks in the area. Two beaches stretch out on either side of a steep peninsula here. With no facilities yet present, this is a wilder park made wilder still by the rusty remnants of an old gold prospecting community from the 1800s. You probably won’t find gold here yourself, but that’s okay because the real treasure lies in the solitude and rugged beauty this park holds for its few visitors.
Home to the Umpqua River Lighthouse and centered around intimate and beautiful Lake Marie, this is the perfect spot for swimming, boating, angling or simply relaxing on the small sandy beach. The campsite accommodates every style of camper with tent and RV campsites, rustic and deluxe yurts and two lovely one room cabins which sleep four each. The park is nestled within towering sand dunes, some of which reach heights of 500 feet. Being a fairly small campground in high demand, it is recommended to book in advance.
A great choice for families – Tugman Park offers picnic areas, a playground and plenty of open grassy space to play in. One unique feature is that the park has the only public boat ramp on Eel Lake. The lake has many inlets for hikers to explore, easily accessible by a trail along the south end of the lake. The Oregon Dunes recreation center is less than a mile away, making Tugman Park a central location for visitors wanting to explore from Reedsport to Coos Bay.