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Vanessa Ball | 04.28.2021

This article has been updated. It was originally published in April 2017.

When the winter and early spring rain clouds finally dissipate and the sidewalks dry at last, Oregon's highways leading westward fill with cars and RVs heading to the coast. The coveted campsite next to the beach or within walking distance of an ocean sunset is the singular focus. While Oregon's beaches can be magical anytine of year, the coastal camping season typically picks up in May and lasts through October, until the first big storm of winter arrives.

We've put together the definitive camping guide to the northern Oregon coast for finding just the right place to pitch a tent or park a trailer. Load up your coolers, don't forget s'mores, and remember to get down to the sand in time to see the sun dip behind the waves. No matter your camping style, we've got you covered.

Fort Stevens State Park Campground

Typical campsite of the six available tent sites at Fort Stevens State Park Campground. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

Quite possibly one of the most popular, and certainly the largest, the Fort Stevens Campground is a behemoth. Dominated by 174 full RV hookup sites and 302 with electricity/water, there are only six dedicated to tent camping. If you can snag one, they're quite possibly the best in the campground. For those less keen on roughing it, cabins and yurts are also available. In spite of its size, the campground does fill on summer weekends. Reservations well in advance are highly recommended here and can be made through Reserve America.

Nehalem Bay State Park Campground

Looking north toward Neahkahnie Mountain (1,680 feet) and Oswald West State Park. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

On the larger side, Nehalem Bay State Park offers a diverse range of activities for all visitors. From crabbing to horseback riding on the beach, the possibilities feel endless. Quite busy during the warm summer months, reservations are recommended here. Standard campsites all come with RV hookups. Eighteen yurts provide comfort for those needing different accommodations. Hiker and biker camping areas are available as well at a steeply discounted rate. Pets are welcome here, and you can even bring your horse! Horse camping with stalls at each site are available. To reserve your site, contact Reserve America.

Barview Jetty County Park Campground

Typical beachside campsite at Barview Jetty County Park Campground. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

Second only in size to Fort Stevens State Park Campground, Barview Jetty County Park Campground is surprisingly large. This lesser known gem is popular with coastal residents, so reservations can be hard to come by. The gorgeous campsites along the beach make it easy to see why. There are plenty of amenities here as well, including a fish cleaning station. A massive sand dune nearby is a popular slide for visiting kids, which eases the after dinner "I'm bored" complaint. To make reservations, contact Tillamook County Parks.

Jones Creek Campground

Jones Creek. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

One of the few on this list that is not open year round, Jones Creek is typically available to campers from Memorial Day through Labor Day. No reservations are taken here, so it's first-come, first-served. Early arrival is suggested in order to snag a spot. With 33 campsites, Jones Creek is a great spot to cool off from the summer heat. With swimming holes at every turn, plenty of shaded campsites, and trails to explore at the Tillamook Forestry Center, there's more than enough to fill a lazy weekend. The nearby Wilson River provides additional swimming and fishing opportunities. 

Elk Creek Campground

Elk Creek. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

Where the upper Wilson River and Elk Creek meet, Elk Creek Campground finds a cozy niche. It is a perfect spot for checking out some of the more challenging trails of the Coast Range mountains, and there are 14 delightful campsites to choose from. It is first-come, first-served here, so an early arrival is suggested. Almost all sites are right next to both streams. Numerous swimming holes and splashing opportunities in the Wilson River Recreation Area make it easy to cool off during the summer.

Hares Canyon Horse Camp

Typical horse stalls at Hares Canyon Horse Camp, L.L. Stub Stewart State Park. Photo provided courtesy of Tyson Gillard.

Located in L.L. Stub Stewart State Park, a newer addition to the Oregon State Parks system, over 1,500 acres provide an extensive network of horseback riding trails. Only 34 miles from Portland, it's a convenient trip out of the city. Hares Canyon Horse Camp provides camping specifically for those bringing their horse. Fifteen full hookup sites include horse stalls, and all include electricity and water. Manure bins are provided in addition to hot showers and flush toilets. Only open March 1 through November 1, you'll need to plan far in advance to take advantage of this campground. Reservations fill quickly. To secure yours, contact Reserve America.

Keenig Creek Campground

View toward Wilson River and swimming area at Keenig Creek Campground. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

Be forewarned, Keenig Creek Campground is by far the most primitive of the campgrounds we've included here. With only 12 small walk-in campsites, there is also no source for potable water. You'll need to bring your own for cooking, cleaning, and drinking, unlike the nearby Jones Creek or Elk Creek Campgrounds. The upside? You'll have one of the best swimming holes on the Wilson River right outside of your tent and no need to view with the other cars along the highway or hassle with precarious roadside parking. No reservations are required at Keenig Creek, for obvious reasons. The campground does fill in the busy summer months, so a spot here is not guaranteed.

Cape Lookout State Park Campground

Beach access from the campground. Looking south toward Cape Lookout. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

More ideally suited to the tent camper, Cape Lookout State Park still offers 38 suitable RV full hookup options. With 172 tent sites however, there is far less generator noise here than you might find at other state parks along the coast. Cape Lookout State Park offers wonderful hiking opportunities for visitors (like the aptly named Cape Lookout Trail), and beach access is easy on the long sandy spit. This is a popular campground, so reservations are highly encouraged. You can secure your spot by contacting Reserve America.

Beverly Beach State Park Campground

Typical yurt in the "A" loop. Photo courtesy of Tyson Gillard.

Beverly Beach State Park Campground provides one of the best base camps for watching gray whales during migration because it sits between Yaquina Head and Otter Rock and Devil's Punch Bowl State Natural Area. When the whales aren't passing, tide pools and the ability to view gorgeous, well-preserved marine life habitats make this a special place. The 5 miles of beach available here don't hurt either. The campground is heavier on the tent side of things and offers 128 tent spots, but there are also 21 yurts and plenty of RV options as well. As with most Oregon coast campgrounds, reservations are recommended in the summer months. You can grab your spot by contacting Reserve America.

Interested in discovering trails around Oregon's coastal campgrounds? Easily find trails, download offline maps, and navigate Oregon's dramatic coastline using the onX Backcountry GPS Trail app.


I’m in need of tips and tricks to secure the campsite I want next August 2020.. I realize Reserve America has a 9 month advance booking window.. but once I get closer to the camping dates I want, how do I make sure someone doesn’t book the same campsite I want by overlapping their dates onto the dates I want.. ?? This system seems ridiculous, help!
Hi Ang, have you seen the "Featured Adventures" section on this page? By default the locations are displayed as image tiles, but you can switch to map view and all of the locations are displayed on a map. I hope that helps!
Too bad your article presents no info of where these places are in relation to each other. If not a map, maybe milepost number?
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