Skip to Content

Boondocking Along the South Oregon Coast

| Updated Aug 9, 2013

fionapistolLast month I wrote about the great boondocking stretch of beach south of Yachats, OR – now I'll tell you about a similar and equally spectacular section of the Pacific Coast Highway that's just as boondocker-friendly. We have spent weeks at a time here the last three years, watching the ocean and enjoying the cool summer weather.

Ginny Evans dropped by to help us with the heavy workload - I think everyone but me is taking a nap.
Ginny Evans dropped by to help us with the heavy workload – I think everyone but me is taking a nap.

I call it Pistol River, but nobody's ever heard of that, which is to be expected because there's really very little in the way of towns and other development on this part of the coast – just the way we like it. The only town of any size is Gold Beach, at the mouth of the Rogue River. Where I boondock is south of town between Gold Beach and Pistol River State Park. There are a dozen or more pullouts overlooking the ocean and the huge offshore rocks that characterize this section of the coast.

Our night spot - settled in and waiting for it to get dark enough to see the phosphorescent waves.
Our night spot – settled in and waiting for it to get dark enough to see the phosphorescent waves.

It's all public land, and Oregon state law allows you to park (not camp) in any pullout not otherwise marked for twelve hours at a time, as long as you aren't in a state park. We usually spend the night at the northernmost pullout or down by the mouth of Pistol River just north of the park, and our days at different spots in between.  Smaller pullouts are better – you get less traffic from the day trip people swooping in, jumping out, taking a photo, and zooming off again.   Those people make me nervous – we're used to a slower pace of recreation.

The stretch of Oregon coast from Pistol River to Gold Beach
The stretch of Oregon coast from Pistol River to Gold Beach has these huge chert seastacks, formed at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean out of radiolarian skeletons, and scraped off the Juan de Fuca Plate as it dives beneath the North American Plate.

When you run low on groceries or fresh water, just drive up to Gold Beach. There are two grocery stores, half a dozen gas stations, two with propane, fresh water at the Visitor's Center on the south end of town, and a free dump at the beach end of 5th Place in the middle of town. The local merchants are glad to get your business- they're a small town trying to make a living, not a bunch of chain stores. The employees bought the grocery store from the owner when he wanted to close it, and they're keeping it running, so when they say, “thanks for coming in”, they really mean it. Get provisioned up and head back to the beach for a few more days.

The house on the hill at far upper right is as close to the ocean as the rich folks can own property. Thank you, Oregon Land Trust.

Life takes on a slow, easy pace here as you whale watch, walk the beach, and drift off to sleep watching the phosphorescent surf that sometimes appears here in late summer.   Deer come out of the forest at dusk to get their salt from the ocean – it's strange to see deer on the beach, but there they are.  There are sea otters, all kinds of seabirds, and blackberries and wild strawberries growing in profusion all along the shoreline.   You can tell this place doesn't get too many visitors.

Deer on the beach, by dawn's early light.
Deer on the beach, by dawn's early light. Blurry photo, wonderfully vivid memory.

We first stayed here two years ago, heading south down the coast after Labor Day, and the weather was cooling rapidly so we headed down into California after a week or so. Last year we spent the entire summer on the Pacific Coast Highway, and hit this stretch both coming and going – we probably spent most of a month here all together. This year we're hanging out here and up by Yachats for just about all of late July and August, so we'll get plenty of time in.  There's just no hurry as you savor the end of summer up here in the north, knowing you can prolong it by heading south when the weather cools off.

RV Lifestyle

Published on 2013-08-09

49 Responses to “Boondocking Along the South Oregon Coast”

March 19, 2014at10:22 am, Billy Holmes said:

Roadtrek’s are nice, but cost to much for the side….

March 18, 2014at8:46 pm, Rhonda Jane Cork Elmore said:

Love Oregon , going in June

March 18, 2014at2:48 pm, Lynne Cooke-Byer said:

Wishing I could afford one of these, so I could appease my gypsy soul. Now that I have the time, don’t have the $. (Sigh)

March 18, 2014at4:48 pm, campskunk said:

well, that’s the thing about fulltiming – if you can afford rent or a mortgage and utilities and property taxes, you can afford a Roadtrek. it’s just that you can’t afford both the sticks and bricks house AND the RV. i can’t. i went with the Roadtrek, and i think i made the right decision 😉

March 18, 2014at11:58 am, William Fields said:

Give a old brougham , $4,500!!!!

March 18, 2014at11:28 am, Connie Abrook said:

On the way to the big Q, stop in Saskatoon and check out the PleasureWay’s!!

March 18, 2014at11:28 am, Connie Abrook said:

On the to the big Q, stop in Saskatoon and check out the PleasureWay’s!!

March 18, 2014at11:22 am, Jean Sullivan said:

We drove the highway along the Pacific Ocean Rt 101 and stayed overnight (motel stay then, but would love to camp that area) at Gold Beach in southern Oregon. Great beach sand to walk on, level and packed. The location is a few miles north of the Redwood Forest in northern California – a MUST to travel through. My favorite place among 10 other favorite places is Monterey – beautiful there. The coastline highway from Northern most point in Washington through Southern California is a wonderful trip.

March 18, 2014at10:03 am, Susan Tillotson said:

Kaylie Pomrenke, here’s an idea… lol

March 18, 2014at9:44 am, Kathy Weeks Stephens said:

I love the Oregon coast.

March 18, 2014at8:51 am, Donna Joy Mott said:

Thanks for sharing 🙂

March 18, 2014at8:36 am, Linda Hoefer said:

we drove 101 last summer and EVERYWHERE we found no overnight parking or camping signs. We spent two nights in Fred Meyer parking lots (after asking permission) and three nights in Casino parking lots (they have good food), but all in all it was a disappointing trip (scenery was beautiful though). Give me BLM boondocking anytime.

March 18, 2014at8:15 am, Jean Vallieres said:

Top ten reasons to stop in Quebec city ”Canada” and speak with me about Roadtrek products and visiting our Province in your futur Roadtrek!

March 18, 2014at7:50 am, Bob Wheeler said:

I would rather go boondocking in the boondocks.

February 25, 2014at12:54 am, Penny Sheppard said:

It would be a nice place to take it easy very nice

February 25, 2014at12:26 am, Kimberly Sheppard said:

Wayne Sheppard Penny Sheppard

February 24, 2014at11:52 am, Patsy Rust said:

Love it!!!!

February 24, 2014at10:28 am, Charles Davis said:

would like to own one someday .

February 24, 2014at8:56 am, Cyndy Sheldon said:

Looks like fun

February 24, 2014at3:44 am, Ralphie Or Ralfie said:

Can u do campfires like this and what are the laws on having a few beers while in the vehicle chilling out.

January 12, 2014at8:01 pm, Terri Schleiss said:

Come visit the north coast also. You have a follower at Fort Clatsop Bookstore

January 12, 2014at7:27 pm, Nicole Lamoureux said:

notre rêve a PIERRE et moi =====peut-être un jour ===dis-moi NANCY et LISE ménard VIENDREZ VOUS AVEC NOUS dans l’ouest CANADIEN

January 12, 2014at5:59 pm, Marilyn Kearns Hilborn said:

Just did this trip during Thanksgiving week. It was cold and windy but still beautiful.

January 12, 2014at4:50 pm, Joyce Klug said:

stop teasing the wanna be full timers

January 12, 2014at4:09 pm, Pat Mesic said:

I have travelled this route many times. I will try the places you mentioned next time I am down that way. Love trying new boondocking places.

January 12, 2014at3:42 pm, Diane Kilbarger said:

Put it on my bucket list!

January 12, 2014at3:38 pm, Chris Heurich said:

Worth reading, like his previous post about boondocking on the Oregon coast..which came in very handy, after attending the Roadtrek gathering at Silver Falls State Park last September, hanging out on the Oregon coast at some of the sweet locations shared by Campskunk in the articles. Lingering along the coast around Pistol River is idyllic, serene and picturesque. Happy our paths have crossed. Thank you!

January 12, 2014at3:33 pm, Cathy R said:

Shhh! You aren’t supposed to tell everyone about this wonderful gem of an area!

January 12, 2014at3:08 pm, Bonnie Robinson Mohr said:


January 12, 2014at2:54 pm, Brenda Melnychuk said:

Retirement plan 101!! 🙂

January 12, 2014at2:45 pm, Lina Furtado said:

This looks quiet and peaceful . Wish I was there with you . Have a good time and enjoy

January 12, 2014at2:10 pm, Melanie Stokes said:

This is a great article!! My partner and I are in the process of looking for an RV and we definitely want to take advantage of awesome boondocking opportunities!! Thanks!! =)

January 12, 2014at2:11 pm, Melanie Stokes said:

Check out my blog, especially if you are interested in healthy Paleo Dishes and stories of another fellow wanderluster!!

January 12, 2014at2:02 pm, Sherry Hooker said:

Campskunk, I’ve never been to the west coast, but you sure make it sound tempting. Thanks for an interesting read.

January 12, 2014at1:51 pm, Louise Perruche said:

j’aime et ça annonce le printemps avec le camping xx

January 12, 2014at1:46 pm, Mark Cunningham said:

Thanks for this post. We are staying at least a month in Oregon this year. Good info

January 12, 2014at2:14 pm, Marilyn Anderson said:

Lucky you. Oregon is wonderful/ especially the coast. Enjoy.

August 09, 2013at8:49 pm, Sandy said:

Love love love Pistol River-we used to hang out there all the time when we lived in Grants Pass and of course Yachats is one of my favorite beachtowns !

August 09, 2013at3:44 pm, Stu said:

Okay time to get my priorities in place and head that way, be there in about five years, just takes me a little time to get the wife’s priorities in sync with mine.

August 09, 2013at10:36 pm, Campskunk said:

that’s right- Winona is still working. we need to stage an intervention, Stu.

August 09, 2013at12:45 pm, Lisa said:

Can’t wait to join you someday soon!

August 09, 2013at11:56 am, Laura H Postema said:

Wow! What a beautiful spot. Thanks for sharing the details with us. My list keeps getting longer and longer. Continued safe travels.

August 09, 2013at11:22 am, Pam Hicks said:

I don’t think it gets any better than this – can’t wait until I can see for myself 🙂

August 09, 2013at11:13 am, Cheryl said:

Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Comments are closed.

Back to top