Suislaw National Forest -- Oregon Coast.

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Well-known member
Aug 8, 2012
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Sometimes lost, sometimes not.
Suislaw National Forest -- Oregon Coast:
I recently went to *EVERY* dispersed campsite marked along the Oregon coast of the Suislaw NF. There are only a handful on the MVUSM(Motor Vehicle Use Map). How many can you actually use? 1. Exactly 1, it's about 4 miles in from hwy 101 along a gravel road just a little ways past Horse Creek Campground (NF road 58 -- marked on T17S R12W of the MVUSM near road 5800788). Also, there is basically no Verizon signal at this spot. There are 2 other "pull outs" right off the road, but are too close to the road to be considered legal NF dispersed camping spots (neither of these have any decent Verizon signal either). You can get 1 bar of LTE signal at Horse Creek Campground, but unless you have horses with you, you can't camp there, for a fee of course.

Additionally the state of oregon website says you can camp on the beach free, but I've stopped at multiple visitor centers, and the most I can get out of them is "nowhere near a city, and none of the beaches you can camp on are considered 'accessible' by any sort of vehicle", they also said state park rangers will regularly ask you to not camp on the beaches, despite it being legal. When pressed, they said they didn't know of any place to park your vehicle overnight for free within a few miles of any of the beaches you could camp on. So near as I can tell, while it's "legal", it's not actually possible. Nor could I get any sort of directions, a map or anything concrete about where these mythical camping beaches are.

So what I've learned is, if you want to camp along the Oregon Coast, bring loads of cash for the NF campsites (avg. around $22/night), the state park campsites are even more expensive!
I grow up in western Oregon and spent a lot of time at the beaches, camping hiking walking swimming and never seen a ranger on the beach. The beaches are inaccessible because the sand is to loose to drive on, there is parking near the beach in many places but not sure if they are closed at night. I guess things can change over the years since I have been there!
Nelda, his experience is a lot like mine, except I'm pretty sure that place is no overnight parking anymore. There isn't any overnight parking to speak of along hwy 101 on the Oregon coast. There are a few spots you can "get away with it" but they aren't legal to stay the night. It is an absolute beautiful area, and the weather in the summer is fabulous! But free camping is near impossible to find. Overnight spots are HARD to find, but not quite impossible..... Yet.

Spirituallifetime, I agree the beaches are great, but not accessible for vehicles for the most part, the exception is the Oregon dunes, but you have to pay to overnight on the beach there, and you need 4WD, and be prepared to accept lots of ATV's and stuff.
Tara, thanks so much for this report! Oregon is my planned trip for next summer.

So how far inland do you have to go to find dispersed or free camping? Did you find any within 20 miles of the coast?
Yes, see the link for the MVUSM, and you can see there is camping further inland. Don't expect Verizon to work well, it's mostly missing except inside the larger towns, and even then maybe only 3G. The forest is so incredibly thick, especially in the lower part of the coast, most of the forest service roads are paved. Which is nice, but they are one lane, have very few spots big enough to pass anyone and either side of the road is either a drop off or giant trees with plants trying to grow into your van. I think if you parked anywhere close to the 14 day limit, the forest would have grown over your van by the time you tried to leave. That's the impression you get from the forest, which is really awesome and sort of scary all at once! :) once you get into the rest of Oregon, dispersed camping is a lot easier to find! Remind me next time we cross paths and I can tell you where my fav. spots are.
I've heard there are casinos that allow free overnighting near the Oregon coast. I'm in Mt Hood NF this summer again, lots of boondocking spots here -- but I'm beeing paid to stay in a campground.
There is 2 that I know about, one in Florence, and one in Lincoln City. In My experience they are full to overflowing it seems. Places to overnight are not yet impossible to find, but along hwy 101, are hard. There are some Walmarts but all have no overnight parking signs. But boondocking is near impossible to find in my experience so far this summer.

There are places to stealth, and you can ask the manager at a Rays (grocery store chain) and they will sometimes let you rock a spot.
Haven't been to Oregon in almost 30 years. But Glen, from "To Simplify" said. "...12-hour parking is permitted in Oregon at all non-state park pull-offs on the 101..."

The post referenced is from 2012 and can be found here:
He found a few more sites overlooking the ocean. Search his blog for Oregon
Well these days, in many many of them is giant no overnight parking or no camping signs. Again, overnight parking you can find, if you are watchful. It's hard to find legal overnight spots. There are tons of day parking spots! But boondocking, or any other sort of free camping which was my original post, has been non-existent for the most part. I managed to rock the coast, and not pay any money, and spent a few weeks, but you have to be careful and watchful. I haven't had a run in with the local law enforcement types, asking me to move along either. But I came up here along the coast, after looking briefly at a map thinking, awesome! National forest right to the coast line for most of the entire Oregon coast! This will be awesome, I can boondock for weeks all along the coast and have loads of fun and not see many people. In my experience, that's a huge myth. That said you can fairly easily find day access beaches where you can look all along in 3 directions and not see a single person, which is an awesome way to spend the day if you ask me! :)
Where on the coast are you???

I'm in Coos Bay, and I know of several places to camp for free...not to mention that we have a big casino that has free camping (just ask Bindi & Us), plus we do have a Walmart that has overnighting at it too.

I know of quite a few places up & down the coast...but I don't think that they're marked on any maps.
I loved those one lane roads for riding my bicycle on. The forest is very dense because of the amount of rain it gets every year and coastal mountain range doesn't leave a lot of flat spots for parking in many places.
I think that what we're talking about here is the difference in setting up a camp for a few days versus overnight parking along the way up or down the coast.
The Walmart in Coos Bay is fabulous if you park way up high in the back of the lot for the night but not so good if you want to stay awhile. The same for the casino. Dirt parking lots are not my favorite for extended stay, but they are great for a place to sleep.
We go up and down the coast of Oregon often.
So, Tara, like Patrick said, where exactly are you?
(as she takes off for the Hoh Rain Forest to camp for free)
I think my favorite town on the Oregon Coast is Depoe Bay. Great for whale watching and they have a terrific used book store, Roberts Bookshop.
Yes, Nelda, overnight parking and camping/boondocking are different things entirely. You *CAN* find places to overnight. But finding boon docking places to *camp* for say a week (without moving your vehicle), that's nearly impossible to find... for free. Loads of pay campsites tho, both federal and state.

Patrick, Perhaps we have a disagreement over the meaning of words, but I consider casino's, walmarts, sides of highways, to all be overnight spots. You are not encouraged to spend 14 days without moving your vehicle in those areas. Sure some of them will let you get away with a few nights (mostly Casino's) but I don't consider it camping, or boon docking.

If you know of other spots that allow boon docking/camping along the Oregon coast, please send details!!! I will eventually make it back thru the area and would love to camp there a while and not just drive thru.

As to where I am, currently? I never publicly talk about where I am anymore, due to some people preferring I not exist.

As to where I was, like I said in my original post, I went to *EVERY* dispersed camping spot marked on the MVUSM within 5 miles of the coast, that's within the Suislaw NF (so most of the Oregon coastline, from south of Brookings, OR to Lincoln City, OR) looking for places to boondock/camp for the 14 days allowed under NF rules. I found exactly 1 that fit their rules, see original post for details on where it is.

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