There are excellent campgrounds around Florence, several with recreational opportunities comparable to those at the nearby Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area but with more varied scenery.
Carl G. Washburne State Park (93111 U.S. 101 N., 541/547-3416 information, 800/452-5687 yurt reservations, open year-round, $17–22, $4 hiker-biker spaces) is popular with Oregonians because of its proximity to beaches, tide pools, Sea Lion Caves, and elk viewing. The seven walk-in tent sites and 56 full-hookup sites have such modern conveniences as showers, laundry, electricity, and piped water; no reservations are accepted.
There are also two yurts, which can be reserved. It’s 14 miles north of Florence on U.S. 101 (three miles past Sea Lion Caves), then one mile west on a park road. This state park offers a number of good hiking trails and three miles of relatively isolated beach.
Three miles south of Florence’s McCullough Bridge and on both sides of U.S. 101 is Honeyman State Park (84505 U.S. 101 S., 541/997-3641 information, 800/452-5687 reservations). This exceedingly popular campground gets very crowded in the summer—reservations are a must—but it empties out enough during spring and autumn to make a stay here worthwhile.
The park has two large freshwater lakes, formed by mountain streams that flow toward the Pacific but are trapped by sand dunes. Ask about canoe rentals to savor the serenity of Cleawox Lake. Fishing, swimming, hiking, and dune buggies are available nearby, so there’s always something to do.
In spring, pink rhododendrons line the highway and park roads. There are 187 tent sites with the basics, 121 electrical-hookup and 47 full-hookup, and 10 yurts. Facilities include showers, a playground, and interpretive events. Advance reservations are accepted Memorial Day–Labor Day, and the sites cost $13–22, depending on the season and the type of site.
These large state park campgrounds are deservedly popular with families but can be very bustling. If you’re looking for something smaller and low-key (with flush toilets but no showers) then two Siuslaw National Forest Service campgrounds just north of Florence might be the ticket. Sutton Campground is four miles north of Florence, and in addition to 80 campsites ($20) amid the dunes, it features a darlingtonia bog and a hiking trail network. In high summer season, about a quarter of the sites can be reserved (877/444-6777 or www.recreation.gov) and the rest are available on a first come, first served basis.
Just another mile north is Alder Dune Campground, with two lakes with swimming beaches and trout fishing. Hiking trails lead out into the dunes and reach the Pacific beaches. During summer high season, all of the campground’s 39 sites ($20) can be reserved by contacting 877/444-6777 or www.recreation.gov. For more information on these campgrounds, contact the Suislaw National Forest (541/750-7000, www.fs.fed.us/r6/siuslaw).
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel