The Best Oregon Coast Dispersed Camping

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Oregon’s rugged coast is a top destination for visitors and locals alike. This iconic environment has beautiful beaches, stunning forests, and soaring cliffs. Dotted along the way are quaint towns making a perfect road trip itinerary. For those looking to enjoy some of the surrounding wilderness you’ll find great, free dispersed camping near the Oregon Coast to set up your tent.

We’ve put together this Oregon Coast dispersed camping guide to help you see your best options for camping and navigate the sometimes difficult process of finding a free campsite in the area.

Keep reading to learn about our nine favorite dispersed campsites near Oregon’s rugged coastline!

Oregon Coast Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to plan a free, dispersed camping trip along the Oregon Coast. Everything from how to find a site to what to bring.

This is the essential info before you head out!

If you’re looking for more general information on Oregon dispersed camping, check out our complete guide here.

What to Bring

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for dispersed camping near the Oregon Coast:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this version which provides a good overview of the entire coast.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – A portable water container is essential.
  • Cooler – We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

Access & Regulations

One of many camper’s favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of need for any permits or fees to be paid. Oregon’s coast parallels a variety of State and National Forests, making the rules around dispersed camping clear as mud. One that you can count on is that much of the coast itself is private property and/or public land that prohibits dispersed camping.

Given that, it is essential to ensure you are camping in a permitted spot. We recommend contacting the local office for the State or National Forest where you hope to set up camp. Here are a few good places to start, with the various jurisdictions that permit dispersed camping listed from north to south:

This page also have a very helpful overview of camping regulations in Oregon’s State Forests.

Dispersed Camping Near the Oregon Coast

The following list contains our 8 favorite dispersed camping areas within close proximity to the Oregon coast. Keep in mind that you won’t be right on the water at any of the these camping areas. Rather, these are campsites are meant to provide some good options for free camping when planning your own trip.

In addition, the Oregon Coast dispersed camping map below gives an overview of each site’s location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!

Cole Mountain Ridge Road

Restrooms: No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

An easily accessible and convenient camping area for those visiting Cannon Beach and the surrounding area is Cole Mountain Ridge Road. Tucked just inside Tillamook State Forest, this dispersed camping area is located east of Highway 53.

The location included in the map linked above is the first of many small clearing in the trees off of Cole Mountain Road that make excellent campsites. Each is relatively small, so don’t plan on bringing your RV or large trailer up here. However, you can expect relatively secluded sites that give easy access to the coast.

Be aware that there are typically active logging activities in the area. There is no water source here either, so you’ll need to come prepared with all the water you’ll need for your stay.

Cannon Beach, Oregon
You’ll be close to the famous Cannon Beach when camping on Cole Mountain Road.

 

Tillamook State Forest (Cook Creek Rd/Nehalem River)

Restrooms: No
Water: 
No, but may be possible to take from nearby rivers.
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Continuing south along the Oregon Coast (or at least near it) you’ll find more great dispersed camping in Tillamook State Forest along the Nehalem River and Cook Creek Road. There are sites located along the river as well as a bit further back along Cook Creek. Be sure to contact the State Forest in advance as several of these areas have been impacted by wildfires and floods.

You’ll be an approximate 30 minute drive from Manzanita on the coast here, with fairly easy car access along Foss Road and Cook Creek Road.

It may be possible to pull and filter water for the rivers in the area, but we still recommend coming prepared with your own water source. This is an idyllic area, so please be sure to pack out all your trash and leave your campsite in better shape than you found it.

 

South Lake Dispersed Area

Restrooms: Vault toilet
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Venturing further south and into Siuslaw National Forest will bring the opportunity to camp at the South Lake Dispersed camping area. This is a formal dispersed camping area, complete with a vault toilet and designated sites. That being said, there are no fees to camp here and you’ll get a few more amenities compared to traditional dispersed camping.

Pacific City is the closet town on the coast to South Lake, and is just under an hours drive away.

The lake itself is quite peaceful, so be sure to be considerate of your neighbors and help maintain this lovely camping area. This area was also impacted by wildfires in 2021, so be sure to check with the USFS for current conditions before setting out.

 

Forest Road 58 – Siuslaw National Forest

Restrooms: No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Light
Map

Siuslaw National Forest occupies a large swath of wilderness along the Oregon Coast between Tillamook and Coos Bay. Within the boundaries of the forest you’ll find ample opportunities for dispersed camping, such as this good spot located along Forest Road 58 near the Heceta Head Lighthouse. You won’t find any water sources or other amenities here, but you’re just a short drive from the coast in some beautiful forest.

For other sites such as FR 58, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) for Siuslaw National Forest. These helpful guides show which roads permit dispersed camping, typically notated with two dots alongside the road.

Keep in mind that many of these area are very undeveloped and you’ll want to check with the relevant Ranger District for road conditions and current camping regulations.

You can find the MVUMs for Siuslaw National Forest here.

MVUM for Siuslaw NF
Motor Vehicle Use Map for Siuslaw National Forest showing dispersed camping along FR58.

 

Siltcoos Lake – Siuslaw National Forest

Restrooms: No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Continuing south along the coast but still within Siuslaw National Forest you’ll find some excellent free, dispersed camping located above Siltcoos Lake and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area. You’ll be only 30 minutes from the town of Florence here, making stocking up on camping supplies a breeze. There are a tangle of forest service roads all in this area, making finding a good campsite a relatively simple endeavor.

For the best campsites, we recommend sticking to FR59 or Five Mile Rd as these tend to have the best access and most campsites.

Note that dispersed camping in this area of the Oregon Coast has become more popular in recent years, so it is important to practice Leave No Trace camping principles. Please do your part to ensure that these free sites remain open for all to enjoy!

 

Elk River Road

Restrooms: No
Water: 
No, but may be possible to take from Elk River.
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Located close to Humbug Mountain State Park, Elk River Road has several good pullouts along its length that make a good overnight dispersed campsite. Although not recommended for RVs or trailers, those with smaller campers or tents should have no problem finding decent flat sites with river access. Be warned that this isn’t the most remote dispersed camping, so you can expect some traffic passing by throughout the night.

However, you’ll enjoy lovely surrounding along the Elk River and quick access from here to the coast.

The best spots are located about a mile or so past the fish hatchery on the north side of the road.

 

Wildhorse Dispersed Camping

Restrooms: Pit toilet.
Water: 
No.
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

The Wildhorse dispersed camping area is a designated free campground in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, high above the Oregon Coast. There are three campsites here, each featuring a picnic table and fire pit. There is also a pit toilet at the site, but no trash service so please be sure to pack out all of your waste.

You’re about an hour from Gold Beach on the coast here, but you’ll have plenty to do in the surrounding National Forest such as exploring the officially designated Wild and Scenic Rogue River.

The benefit of camping at Wildhorse is you’ll have some basic facilities and won’t have to worry about whether or not camping is permitted. On the downside, you’ll need to be prepared to share the site with two other groups.

Rogue River, OR
Explore the Rogue River from your campsite at Wildhorse.

 

Elko Dispersed Camping

Restrooms: No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Our final option for dispersed camping near the Oregon Coast is the Elko Dispersed camping area in, just west of Gold Beach, OR. Located along National Forest Road 70, you’ll find several large pull outs off the road that can accommodate a variety of camping set ups. Although you’ll be close to the coast as the crow flies, expect the trip to get there to be slow driving on dirt roads.

There are no facilities at Elko, so please be prepared to pack out all of your trash and properly dispose of human waste. Depending on the time of year, Elko Creek may provide a good water source, although you’ll need to filter it before drinking.

View of the ocean from the Oregon Dunes

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan a dispersed camping trip near the Oregon Coast and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!

Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

Looking for other great camping in the Pacific Northwest? Be sure to check out our other guides below:

 

 

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