Bastendorff Beach County Park (63379 Bastendorff Beach Rd., Charleston, 541/888-5353) is a conveniently and beautifully located park two miles west of Charleston just off the Cape Arago Highway. It’s open for camping year-round, with RV and tent sites ($16–20, less off-season), as well as cabins ($30) and some hiker-biker sites. Campsites have drinking water, wood stoves, flush toilets, and hot showers (for an extra $2). Fishing, hiking, and a nice stretch of beach are the recreational attractions, plus there’s a good playground for toddlers.
Even though the crowds at Sunset Bay State Park (13030 Cape Arago Hwy., Coos Bay, 541/888-4902 or 800/452-5687 reservations) can make it seem like a trailer park in midsummer, the proximity of Oregon’s only major swimming beach on the ocean keeps occupants of the 66 tent sites ($16) and 65 trailer sites ($20) happy. The eight yurts go for $27, and primitive hiker-biker sites are $4. Facilities include laundry and showers, and there is a boat launch at the north end of the beach. This site, located three miles southwest of Charleston, is popular with anglers, who can cast into the rocky intertidal area for cabezon and sea bass.
Northwest of the Bay Area—2.5 miles north of the McCullough Bridge—is the Trans-Pacific Parkway, a causeway west across the water leading to Coos Bay’s North Spit and the south end of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, with four Siuslaw National Forest campgrounds and expansive dunes that draw off-road vehicle enthusiasts. The main Horsfall Campground is popular with crowds of noisy all-terrain vehicles and RVs.
For more quiet and privacy, continue another mile on Horsfall Beach Road to Bluebill Lake. The 18 tent/RV sites are equipped with picnic tables and bathrooms, and the campground is open all year. There isn’t OHV dune access from this campground, and it tends to attract trekkers who use their feet to explore. Ask the campground hosts about area trails and the nearby oyster farm for the ultimate in campfire fare.
Close by, Horsfall Beach Campground is located in the dunes next to the beach. Off-highway vehicle (OHV) access and beachcombing are popular activities. Showers are available two miles east at Horsfall Campground.
A half mile away, Wild Mare Horse Camp has beach and dune access and a dozen primitive campsites, each with a single or double horse corral. Each of these Siuslaw National Forest campgrounds charges $20 nightly year-round. Only Horsfall Campground takes reservations (877/444-6777, www.recreation.gov) May–September.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel