Amazing Adventures & Cool Things to Do at the Oregon Sand Dunes
America's Pacific Northwest is a stunningly beautiful region that's mostly associated with dense green forests, snow-capped mountains, and a dramatic coastline. But nearby our hotel you'll find another unique feature that you might not expect: coastal sand dunes. Located just north of Coos Bay, Oregon's windswept dunes are the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes on the continent. Poetic and mysterious, the dunes seem to go forever with their shape-shifting forms. Rising up to 500 feet above sea level, their otherworldly appeal is augmented by an endless array of activities: ATV rides, hiking, horseback riding, and even sandboarding. Are you up for an adventure? Discover the best things to do at the Oregon Sand Dunes during your vacation in the Pacific Northwest.
Why Are There Sand Dunes in Oregon?
Oregon's magnificent coastal dunes are the product of millions of years of erosion by rain and wind. Stretching for over 40 miles along the coast, the oldest dunes are 100,000 years old. Mountains near the coast serve as barriers for the wind, deflecting the gusts that arrive from the Pacific Ocean and forming unique dune shapes. For millions of years, Oregon's coastal rivers have brought down pieces of the mountaintops, grinding them into silt on the journey to the sea. Waves also help, continuing to deposit additional sand grains onto the shore. The dunes are a masterpiece of Mother Nature, a unique geological attraction and an outdoor playground for adventurers.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area & Siuslaw National Forest
Most of the sand dunes can be found in Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which is part of Siuslaw National Forest. Along the coastline, you'll find dunes as well as beautiful forests, beaches, marshes, and tree islands in the sand. Stop by the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center to enjoy the stunning ocean views, pick up a map of the area, and talk to the staff about local activities and conditions. There's even a mobile app that you can download with ranger programs, events, and information.
Conquer the Oregon Sand Dunes in an Off-Road Vehicle
Hitting the dunes in an ATV is the most popular way to experience the landscape – and the most thrilling. There are three main areas that make it easy to explore:
- Umpqua Riding Area (smaller but with the highest, most dramatic dunes)
- South Jetty to the Siltcoos River (with designated sand roads)
- Spinreel to Horsfall (largest riding area with diverse rides)
You can rent a large variety of off-road vehicles to play on the dunes, including 4x4 ATVs, quads, motorcycles, sandrails, and of course – dune buggies. Rental companies abound in the area. Don't feel like driving? Sign up for a guided tour and let a pro do all the work. For ATV equipment rentals and tours, check out Dune Bugs ATV Rentals, Steve's ATV Rentals, and Spinreel Dune Buggy & ATV Rentals.
Extreme Sports: Go Sandboarding & Slice Down the Dunes
Perfect for snowboarders, families, and the adventurous at heart, sandboarding is the newest thrill you can experience on the sand dunes. Using boards that are similar to snowboards and strapped to your feet, you can carve your way down the dunes at Sand Master Park – a privately-owned, 40-acre sand playground just north of Florence. The first sandboarding park in the world, Sand Master Park also hosts sand sculpture competitions and rents dune buggies. You can rent boards by the day along with helmets and board wax; lessons are also available. Pro tip: wear long pants and tuck them into your socks, and bring ski goggles if you have them. Contact lens wearers may want to opt for glasses for the day.
Hiking & Wildlife: Slow Down & Explore the Oregon Dunes on Foot
Hiking in the dunes is a workout, but it's totally worth it. Numerous trails cross the area, from coastal walks to inland excursions – and following them is a great way to encounter the wildlife of the area. Some of the animals that call this region home include Roosevelt elk, osprey, bald eagles, gray whales, sea lions, cougars, coyotes, and numerous types of seabirds. Choose trails through wet, packed sand if you want to see animal tracks (and enjoy an easier hike than in loose sand). You'll find trailheads at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area along with the Tahkenitch Dunes and John Dellenback Dunes.
Fishing & Fun on the Water: Lakes, Rivers, Ponds & the Mighty Pacific
From kayaking along the Siltcoos River to fishing the salmon run in Tahkenitch Lake, many of the things to do at the Oregon Sand Dunes involve being on the water. You'll find over 30 lakes and ponds in the area where you can go sailing, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, water skiing, swimming, and scuba diving. Many of the larger lakes are stocked with trout or bass, and rivers teem with big catches. Enjoy whale watching tours and of course – beautiful, sandy beaches where you can frolic in the waves and stroll down the shoreline.
Immerse Yourself in Oregon Coast Adventure at Coos Bay
Experiencing the magical Oregon sand dunes is something that you'll never forget. Make the most of your next vacation and put yourself in the heart of the action at our friendly Coos Bay hotel. We're just 21.3 miles from Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and close to top attractions like the Mill Casino and Cape Arago State Park. Enjoy free hot breakfast, free Wi-Fi, a hot tub, and a picnic area – and discover all the amazing things to do at the Oregon Dunes. Plan your adventure today!