You might be wondering if camping on the beach is legal in Oregon. For the most part, yes, it is.
However, you must be aware of the restrictions and rules that the State of Oregon has put into place.
Don't worry, though; they aren't that restrictive.
Here, I showcase some of the best spots where you can legally beach camp in Oregon.
Rules Regarding Where You Can Legally Camp on the Beach in Oregon
Overnight camping is allowed on certain parts of the Oregon coast. The rules are as follows.
You're not allowed to camp next to Oregon State Parks or on beaches that are part of the city limits in Oregon.
The cities with beaches in their city limits are as follows:
- Cannon Beach
- Lincoln City
- Gold Beach
- Rockaway Beach
Another thing to consider is that these places tend to be quite remote. If you're ready to enjoy a nice hike to get there, you'll be far from any access point.
You cannot simply drive up to the beach and walk a few feet to start camping.
These are known as dispersed options, and they are not really registered. They are the locations that can be accessed only with the restrictions mentioned above.
Keep in mind that these spots are decreasing, and there are more inland locations than beach camping locations.
This is because the State of Oregon has been doing a lot to make them official campsites, a safe place to camp, and a source of income.
There are, however, numerous state parks with beach access where, for a small fee and a recommended reservation, you can camp comfortably right by the beach.
Unfortunately, very few beach locations in Oregon offer completely free access to camping unless they are in truly remote areas.
In this case, it is more about using the site as a camping spot to rest and then move on.
However, Oregon is one of the best places to go camping, whether inland or on the beach, so there are still enough options for all types of campers.
6 Beaches in Oregon Where You Can Legally Pitch Your Tent
South Beach State Park
This is one of the friendliest and largest campsites on the coast. South Beach State Park is south of Newport, with great beach access.
You can set up camp here and enjoy numerous activities for days to come. It's a nice alternative in which, while you might not be directly on the beach, you’ll be within walking distance.
You can go paddling, hiking around the state park, or crabbing if you're an early riser.
This is also one of the biggest locations. It has over 200 sites with electricity, as it allows for RVs, and offers at least 60 places to set up your tent. It's a longer-term camping area.
It offers a variety of activities as well as a playground for the little ones. Visitors will find a small disc golf course and some paved areas that are great for running.
Wright's For Camping
First, let's take a moment to go down Memory Lane and note that this is the place where "The Goonies" was filmed.
For those who remember that classic adventure and friendship movie, this is a place where people come with their families and enjoy camping.
Wright’s For Camping focuses only on those who want to use tents. It's a much smaller option for fans of a remote and intimate experience by the beach.
The site is located by the famous Cannon Beach and is full of amenities, making it a superb option for those who want to go camping but don't want to completely rough it.
Another great option to get away from it all is Cape Blanco State Park, which is perfect for those who want to feel as if they have all the open space they need.
There are miles of hiking trails to check out when you’re not enjoying coastal areas. Even on those hiking trails, you’re bound to pause and look at the ocean view.
This campsite is located as far west as one can go and is slightly north of Port Orford as a point of reference.
The location doesn’t allow for reservations, and it can be quite popular because, while remote, it offers a few amenities and amazing, picturesque views.
With that in mind, be sure to show up early.
Beverly Beach State Park
This is probably one of the best options if you want to be right on the beach, as you can literally step onto it in some spots.
Beverly Beach State Park is also known for its amazing whale-watching when the whales have migrated to the area.
This site is great for longer-term camping, as there are complete hookup sites for water and electricity as needed.
This is also a much bigger site, with over a hundred spots for tents, as well as common amenities like showers and toilets.
However, it’s not the most remote option for camping. In fact, it offers a welcome center that provides common items such as firewood.
At this site, while you’ll be getting into nature, the atmosphere is more glamping than camping.
Either way, you’ll have complete access to the beach near the ocean and plenty to do once you arrive.
Regardless of which campsite you're able to get, you'll have a view of the ocean.
Tillicum Beach is perfect for solo travelers or those going with the family.
Keep in mind that this is one of the few sites where I recommend getting reservations because of how serene it is and how every location here is a great one.
You can set up camp and start enjoying the beach activities such as swimming and surfing.
It's also a great place to hike south a bit so that you can enjoy another chance at whale watching and the like.
The site is a bit light on the amenities but a lot more rugged than other options.
Cape Lookout State Park
Another large space, with over 200 campsites, Cape Lookout is an excellent place to enjoy camping by the ocean.
In addition, it's a good spot to bring your furry friend, as pet-friendly yurts are available.
Finally, those who don't feel like sitting in a tent and who don't have an RV can rent a cabin on-site.
This leads to a more luxurious standard of camping, with plenty of hot showers and other facilities properly integrated with nature's scenic views.
In addition, numerous hiking options are available to help you explore this popular destination and get to the wooded Capes.
Can you camp for free on Oregon beaches?
If you’re able to get to one of the Oregon beaches where you can legally camp, then yes, they are free.
They are known as wild camping, which means that there's no cost to camp there, and no real limits, either.
However, more official campsites usually charge a nominal fee.
Can you set up a campfire on the beach in Oregon?
In the past, there were no issues with this, but new rules allow campfires only in designated campground areas. There is a complete ban on beach fires in Oregon.
Can you sleep in a car on the beach in Oregon?
No. You cannot sleep in your car on the beach. Technically, your vehicle cannot even be on the beach in Oregon.
The beaches where you're able to camp and that are the supposed “wild beaches” are not near any major roads and will require a hike to get there.
Do I need to arrange a reservation for these campsites?
This can vary per campsite. If you can make a reservation, you should do so, as when the busy season hits, it will be hard to find a spot otherwise.
Those sites that don’t take reservations work on a first-come, first-served basis. When you show up at the campsite, the staff there will let you know if you can go in.
What about a more remote option?
These are known as dispersed options and they are not really registered. They are the locations mentioned above and have restrictions on where this can be done.
More inland locations are available but when it comes to the beach, the State of Oregon has been doing a lot to create official campsites, providing a safe place to camp and a source of income.
However, that doesn't mean these remote options don't exist.
Ultimately, you have two options when it comes to beachside camping in Oregon.
The first is beach campsites that don't cost any money but that are off the beaten path and can be difficult to locate.
There are also no real amenities but these are the most remote options.
The second is state park camping, which can get you extremely close to the beach while offering more comfort and amenities. Therefore, this might be a better fit for the experience you desire.
With either option, you can’t go wrong when beachside camping in Oregon.
Brandi Jangula is a writer born and raised in the Midwest. The Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota provide some of her favorite locations to hike and camp with her three adventurous boys. Brandi also enjoys cooking, reading, and attending her children's sporting events in her spare time.