The Oregon coastline is famed for its rugged cliffs, picturesque coves, historic lighthouses, stunning sunsets, and dramatic sea stacks punctuated by scraggly evergreens. And remarkably, every one of the state’s 363 miles of gorgeous coastline is open to the public.
There are numerous state parks dotting the coast where visitors can go to enjoy Oregon’s natural wonders, but these are the awe-inspiring stops that just can’t be missed.
Oswald West State Park
Nicknamed Smuggler’s Cove by locals, Short Sands Beach at Oswald West State Park is the destination for surfing in Oregon. Even if you don’t plan to hop on a board take the serene forested path down to the beach to people-watch, check out the waterfalls and tide pools, or to take one of the hiking paths to old-growth forest, Cape Falcon, or stunning Neahkahnie Mountain.
Nehalem Bay State Park
This 4-mile sand spit between Nehalem Bay and the Pacific is the perfect place to catch a fish, go crabbing, take in the sand dunes, get out on a kayak, or take a romantic horseback ride on the beach. There’s also a bike path through 1.8 miles of tranquil forest.
Cape Lookout State Park
Just off Highway 101, this popular campground in the sleepy town of Netarts offers 5 miles of picturesque sandy beach dotted with agates and seashells. Don’t miss the idyllic 2.4-mile trail to the tip of Cape Lookout or hikes through old-growth forest.
Fort Stevens State Park
This sprawling park at the northern tip of the state has quite a history. From the Civil War through World War II, the former military fort guarded the entrance to the Columbia River. Now famous for its military ruins and an old shipwreck that’s still partially submerged in the sand, the 4,300-acre park also offers freshwater lake swimming, trails and wildlife viewing.
Ecola State Park
Sandwiched between the perennially popular beach towns of Cannon Beach and Seaside, this 9-mile coastal gem boasts incredible views of the Tillamook Head Lighthouse.
The drive into the park is one of the best parts: the narrow road meanders through a dense forest of Sitka spruce, eventually opening up to a rocky bluff with picnic tables ideal for taking in the panoramic views over lunch.
Below, Indian Beach also offers great views, and is a good spot for surfers.
Cape Blanco State Park
A well-preserved 19th-century lighthouse, campgrounds, rustic cabins, and an abundance of hiking trails make this remote and quiet state park on westernmost point of the state unique. Built in 1870, the Cape Blanco Lighthouse is the oldest standing structure of its kind on the Oregon coast.