Since my original post on boondocking the south Oregon coast I have had some concerns voiced by people who are afraid they can’t find the exact spots I’m talking about. If you have the gypsy’s eye for a good place to pull in and stay a while it’s easy, but if you’re used to a real campground with little posts with campsite numbers on them, I can understand people’s apprehension. OK, all you KOA addicts, here’s a point by point account of the stretch from Port Orford to Brookings, with GPS coordinates, photos, and everything. You can’t mess up with all this information. Even somebody from New York City could find these places.
First, understand the ground rules – almost all of Oregon’s coast is public land, and Oregon state law allows you to park (not camp) for 12 hours. We have a day spot and a night spot, and stay here for a month at a time. There’s no specific definition of camping vs. parking, but the less stuff you haul out and set up, the better, and keep what you do haul out on the side of your RV facing the ocean, not the highway side. Tents, fires, and other obvious signs of camping are a bad idea, but a chair or two isn’t stretching it too much. Second rule – do not stretch your 12-hour limit. Once identified a a squatter, you may be in for a harder time with the authorities than those who scrupulously observe the rules.
Third rule – stay out of the state parks after dark. There are many parks along this stretch – Humbug Mountain, Sisters Rock, Cape Sebastian, Pistol River, Samuel Boardman – and the parks people want you in one of their campgrounds if you want to spend the night. There is plenty of room along the coast to overnight in, don’t make these beleaguered public servants’ lives any harder than they already are by violating this rule. Look for the park boundary signs along the coastal highway, and make sure you’re outside of them by sundown.
Let’s start at the top – Port Orford, the westernmost incorporated municipality in the lower 48, and where coastal highway 101 comes back out to the water after a detour inland south of Bandon. As you come down the highway south of town and before you get to Humbug Mountain State Park, there’s a pulloff overlooking Redfish Rocks Marine Preserve. This is marked place #1 on my handy map I stole from Google Maps, with GPS coordinates. Continuing south through Humbug Mountain State Park, where you can dump, discard your garbage, and get fresh water for free, there’s a great pullout just south of the park boundary at #2 on the map, again with GPS coordinates, overlooking a bay where Humbug’s resident whale population hangs out. Across the creek and south of there are two huge Department of Transportation pulloffs with berms around them blocking the view somewhat, but great for elk watching and a little stealth mechanicing if you need to do any adjustments to your rig. They’re also great for night use, since you are way off the road and away from truck noise.
South through the Sisters Rock State Park are a couple of pulloffs, the one at the rocks themselves kinda tight and heavily trafficked, but the one just south of there a nice day spot with a trail that connects to the rocks and beach. Be out of town by sundown, though, even though the state park is just two signs, no campground, picnic facilities, or anything else. Rules are rules.
South of Sisters the road swings inland and uphill, but you come back out to the water at Ophir. This is the #3 spot on the map. The GPS coordinates are for the rest stop, where you CANNOT overnight, but continue across the Euchre Creek bridge and look for pulloffs as you approach the rest area. There’s one at 42.5481746 N, 124.3957499 W with a path down to the beach and close enough to the water to hear the surf all night. South of the rest area there are bigger pulloffs at 42.5311184 N, 124.402139 W and 42.528485 N, 124.403075 W where you can’t get down to the water, but are further off the highway. These are great night spots, the road is flat and the trucks make less noise.
South of Gold Beach, where you can get water at the Visitors Center and dump at the water treatment plant at the end of 5th Place for free, plus hit the grocery stores etc., climb the hill and go inland again through Cape Sebastian State Park. As you come down and back out to the water there’s a large paved pullout (#4 on the map) which has beach/sea stack access but is noisy at night. South of there between #4 and #5 on the map are a dozen pullouts that even a city person can spot – Myers Creek plus many unnamed ones. #5 on the map is a pullout on the north side of the Pistol River bridge, outside the park, and a great overnight place to see otter and deer.
And number 6? That’s the real treasure that I have been tormenting landlocked sticks and bricks denizens with on Facebook. Continue south through Pistol River State Park, go past a bunch of houses, and there it is on the right, just before you get to Samuel Boardman State Park – a beautiful pullout 50 yards off the road, on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. We’ve been there for several nights running because it’s so beautiful and isolated. Fishing boats offshore all night, and deer wander through at dawn. Just north of mile marker 343, GPS coordinates 42.2280003 N, 124.3829244 W. I can’t give it to you, because this coast belongs to everyone, but I’m happy to share it. There’s more than enough beauty here to go around.