Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

I’ve been wanting to explore Oregon’s coastal sand dunes for several years. Although we didn’t have enough time to do all of the ATV exploring I would have liked during my birthday motorcycle trip through Oregon and California, we did dedicate a few hours of our itinerary to completing a short hike in the 31,500-acre Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area along the Oregon coast.

Riding north along the coast, we had a couple really great viewpoints of the sand dunes from the road. But I wasn’t entirely sure where we needed to go to access them until we saw an official sign for the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area.

This shaded rest area has a couple wheelchair-accessible overlooks and clean restrooms for those passing by, and we were able to use our national parks pass to fill out the paperwork for the longer term paid parking to access the trail into the dunes.

The Oregon Dunes Loop Trail is paved for the first half-mile to a viewing area. From there the trail takes visitors down into the dunes. There are two main hiking options. The popular 2-mile round-trip out to the beach and back follows a fairly-level and hard-packed trail through the sand to the beach.


The sky was looking ominous as we switched from our riding to hiking gear and set off on the out-and-back trail through the dunes to the Pacific Ocean.

We wound our way downhill through the tree line to the dunes, waded our way through an initial section of sand, and then entered a forested area where a sandy trail led us through some interesting flora toward the water. Along the way we heard some loudly trilling birds, but we didn’t see anyone or anything.

We reached the beach just as the wind started picking up and the waves started crashing in. As luck would have it, we were there during the shorebird nesting season, and we were not confident that we could access the wet sand (as instructed) without walking on the dry sand where the birds might be nesting so we chose to stay in the bluffs and enjoy the view from there.

The weather was continuing to get worse with low clouds rolling across the wooded area we had just wandered through. We thought we better wrap up our hike so we headed back into the trees and toward the parking area.

Of course, by the time we got back to the open dune area, the clouds were starting to clear and the blue sky was beginning to re-appear!

No complaints from me – it was a really fun little hike through the sand dunes, the weather made for an interesting experience, and I’m looking forward to revisiting the dunes when we have more time to rent ATVs and really explore.

2 thoughts on “Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

  1. Pingback: U.S. National Parks: Top Picks from 2021 – Heather's Compass

  2. Pingback: Motorcycling the Oregon Coast – Heather's Compass

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