Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Day2-DSCN0022Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is a National Recreation Area contained within the Siuslaw National Forest and so is a unit of the US Forest Service, not the NPS. Back in my post on Flathead National Forest, I talked briefly about the Forest Service’s mission of managed conservation vs. the National Park Service’s goal of preservation. As a result of this different ‘prime directive’, you are likely to find more commercial recreational opportunities in National Forest lands.


Oregon Dunes is a 40 mile stretch along the southern Oregon coastline of temperate sand dunes intermingled with forested land. We stopped in a few sections of this park on our drive down Highway 101 to Redwoods National Park.


Our first stop was in the northern section in Florence, Oregon. We took a sandrail tour with Sandland Adventures, giving us our first glimpse of these sand mountains.


Our driver and tour guide was Ben. We took the thirty minute tour and it was a wild, thrilling ride around the dunes with some scenic interludes while we caught our breath. There is a calmer ride available on a sort of dune bus for those with motion sickness issues.


The dunes themselves are the result of millions of years of wind erosion. Some of them are 500 feet above sea level. Here and there you will find a forested oasis in the middle of all that sand.


As we traveled south the dunes were visible from the highway in some sections. Our next stop was in Reedsport where we found the park’s Visitor Center was closed. So we had lunch across the street at the Harbor Light Family Restaurant.


This is a small place, frequented by locals. We did have to wait 15 minutes for a table to open up, but it was worth the wait. They source many of their ingredients locally. Two of us had the chicken pot pie. They have a smoker and use the tender smoked chicken in the pot pie. Yum!


After lunch, we visited Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. This park is centered within Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area. Though the dunes here are not as dramatic as in the Northern section, there is a beautiful ocean vista, a historic lighthouse (circa 1894) and a small museum.


Location: 855 U.S. 101, Reedsport, OR 97467

Designation: National Forest, National Recreation Area

Date designation declared: 3/23/1972

Date of my visit: 8/20/2016


Travelling south over the Conde McCullough Memorial/Coos Bay Bridge as we left the Oregon Dunes NRA behind. This bridge was built in 1936 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.