The Oregon Coast is one of my favorite places I have EVER traveled to. Before embarking on this Oregon road trip, I had been up and down California’s coast and thought “How could Oregon’s compare?” But man oh man it delivered!
The Oregon Coast is ocean meets forest to the max. The craziest cliffs and rocks I’ve ever seen with trees growing right on top of them in the ocean. Once you’ve seen coastline like this- none other will compare.
But you may wonder, how much time should I budget for an Oregon coast road trip?
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Planning your trip? Use my favorite resources!
Accommodation – I recommend Booking.com to find the best deals on hotels.
Flights – I recommend Skyscanner to look for the best prices and deals on flights.
Rental cars – I recommend DiscoverCars to shop around at multiple car rental agencies.
Travel insurance – I recommend Safety Wing; keep your trips insured to protect yourself while traveling.
Tours/experiences – I recommend Viator and Get Your Guide!
How do you get to the Oregon Coast?
The easiest airport to fly into to start this road trip is Portland International Airport. To get from Portland to Cannon Beach on the coast is just an hour and a half.
If you have more time, continue this road trip back up to Portland and spend more time in Oregon. The state is full of natural beauty and has a plethora of waterfalls, mountains, and is home to Crater Lake National Park– the deepest lake in the United States! I would recommend at least 8-10 days to combine the coast with a few more Oregon destinations.
Another option is to take an open jaw flight into Portland, and out of San Francisco. You could then also road trip Northern California to see the Redwoods, more beautiful coastline, and experience the city of San Francisco. The drive from Portland to San Francisco will take you roughly 10 hours and I would budget at least 8-10 days for this road trip- but it will be jam packed!
How long does it take to drive the entire Oregon Coast?
You can drive the entirety of the Oregon Coast on Highway 101 in just 7 hours. But why would you want to? There is SO much to do and beautiful sights to see along the way!
Looking for a rental car? Check out Discover Cars where you can search through 500+ car rental suppliers and compare prices and cars!
How many days do you need on the Oregon Coast?
You need a minimum of 3 days to experience the coast, get some hiking in, allow time for driving, and the chance of bad weather. I personally recommend 4-5 days to fully maximize your time, especially if you plan to do some hiking.
Below I have created an itinerary for an Oregon road trip down the coast for 5 days. I share the best time to visit, places to stay, and a sample itinerary so you can plan your trip. Plus my favorite MUST stops for jaw dropping scenery and epic photo locations!
If you have only 3-4 days, just speed up this Oregon coast itinerary a bit, no need to take anything out. 🙂
Do you only have 1 day to visit the coast from Portland? Consider this full day tour to the coast from Portland if you don’t have a rental car!
What is the best month to visit the Oregon Coast?
The months of July- Early October will give you the best chance for good weather and clear skies. However, even these months are unpredictable which is why I say to give yourself a few days on the coast for the best chances.
I went in early July and out of the 5 days, about half of 2 of them were cloudy and foggy. The good thing about the coast though is that you can probably drive an hour or two either North or South and it could be clear! Or you could learn to appreciate the coast in its’ moodiness because that can be beautiful too.
Going between September- early October will give you the best chance to beat the crowds with great weather.
I definitely wouldn’t plan your trip in winter as this can bring nasty weather such as cold, wind, and lots of rain!
Sample Oregon Coast 5 Day Trip Itinerary
- Day One: Arrive in Portland. Drive 2 hrs to Ecola State Park & explore. Drive down the road to Cannon Beach to watch the sunset. Stay nearby.
- Day Two: Make your way from Cannon Beach to Newport. On the way: Explore Oswald West State Park in the morning, hike Elk Flats. Drive 1 hr to Cape Kiwanda & explore for the afternoon. Drive 1 hr to Newport, OR & spend the night. Optional: Stop and hike God’s Thumb in Lincoln City on the way to Newport.
- Day Three: Drive 1 hr to Cape Perpetua for the morning and early afternoon. Drive 1 hr to the Oregon Sand Dunes National Recreation Area. End your day at Face Rock Scenic Area in Bandon, OR & watch the sunset. Stay in Bandon.
- Day Four: Go to Port Orford for the morning and explore, eat at Redfish with ocean views. Drive to Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor and spend the day, stop at Ariya’s Beach on the way. Stay in nearby Brookings or Gold Beach.
- Day Five: See anything else at Samuel H. Boardman you haven’t seen in the AM and then drive 6 hrs back to Portland to fly home.
If you plan to do an Oregon coast road trip from San Francisco, you can follow this itinerary in the reverse order from Samuel H. Boardman up to Cannon Beach.
Follow The 7 Leave No Trace Principles
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Be courteous of others
Find out more about Leave No Trace here.
Best Places to Stay on the Oregon Coast
I really recommend securing your lodging or campsites well in advance prior to your trip, especially during the peak summer season. The Oregon coast is a popular destination and hotels and campgrounds fill up very quickly.
- Cannon Beach: The Inn at Cannon Beach is a highly rated hotel with free breakfast. See more lodging options for Cannon Beach here.
- Newport: The Inn at Nye Beach is right on the beach with beautiful views and is highly rated. See more lodging options for Newport here.
- Bandon: The Lighthouse Cove has great views, affordable, and only 1.5 miles from Bandon Beach. See more lodging options for Bandon here.
- Brookings: Beachfront Inn has excellent reviews, is on the beach, and offers a hot tub for use for those chilly coastal evenings. See more lodging options in Brookings here.
Where to Camp on the Oregon Coast
- Cannon Beach: Wright’s for camping is in Cannon Beach with 22 tent sites, showers, and bathrooms.
- Newport: South Beach State Park has a large campground with over 200 RV sites, 60 tent sites, and 27 yurts to stay in. You can book these sites up to 6 months in advance.
- Bandon: We stayed in the Bandon KOA in a cute basic cabin. The campground has clean showers, bathrooms, and laundry on-site.
- Brookings: Harris Beach State Park has a large campground located just south of Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Area. The campground has 90 RV sites, 59 tent sites, and 6 yurts. You can book these sites up to 6 months in advance.
Important things to know before you go
Weather & Ocean Tides
Check the weather frequently before you go on your trip and while you’re there. Even in the drier months, rain is always a possibility.
Keep an eye on ocean tides as this can make some places more dangerous. If you plan on visiting tide pools, you should go during low tide so you can see all of the small creatures in the pools!
Fees, Passes, and Reservations
There are no reservations needed on the stops I have listed below, but some of them do require the use of a day pass.
I recommend purchasing a 5 day 10$ Oregon Pacific Coast Passport that will grant you access to the following places:
- Fort Stevens State Park
- Ecola State Park
- Nehalem Bay State Park
- Cape Lookout State Park
- Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic View Point
- Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park
- Shore Acres State Park
- Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
- Sutton Recreation Area
- Cape Perpetua Scenic Area
- Sand Lake Recreation Area (including on the sand)
- Drift Creek Falls Trail
- Marys Peak Recreation Area
- Hebo Lake Recreation Area
Best Stops, Viewpoints, and Hikes on the way
Below I have all the best stops to add to your Oregon coast road trip itinerary. The stops go from North to South as the itinerary above.
One of the most famous shots of the Oregon coast is Haystock Rock in Cannon Beach. If you have the chance, this beach makes for a great sunset!
Oswald West State Park: Elk Flats Trail (Hidden gem on the Oregon Coast!)
Oswald West State Park is located just about 10 minutes south of Cannon Beach.
If you’re an adventure seeker and like to find hidden gems, the Elk Flats trail in this park is for you! This spot is also called the ‘Forbidden Cliffs of Manzanita’ or the ‘Neahkahnie Cliffs’. It is a seriously crazy looking sight. BUT it is hard to reach and requires some route finding! There is no direct trail for this viewpoint online. The view is unlike any other though.
I remember finally getting to this viewpoint and not being able to form words to describe it. It is really unlike any other place you will see along the coast. It almost looks like rock shards jutting out of the ocean.
Make sure to do this hike on a clear sunny day and wear hiking boots as it can be muddy, slippery, and dangerous!
The trail is from Shingle Mill/Elk Flats trailhead. You’ll find a small dirt parking lot, 15 minutes South from Cannon Beach. Honestly this was a bit of a confusing trail to find and follow as it is unmarked.
All I can tell you is to take the trail left from the parking lot. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the trail, but I do remember walking to the right and there was definitely no way to go down there from that trail.
You will find a trail to to the left that will lead you to another trail that you’ll eventually lose in dense vegetation. But keep walking through that; you should see a faint trail through the brush. After walking through the brush you won’t have much farther until the viewpoint.
When I went in 2021 the overgrowth/brush was almost up to my head! Carry hiking poles to help guide yourself through the brush.
The trail is only 0.3 miles one way so it won’t take you long.
At Cape Perpetua you can stop for fantastic coastal views and the popular Devil’s Churn and Thor’s Well. The waves here are rough and make for unique views at this scenic area.
You can walk the rather flat 1.6 mile trail around this area to visit Devil’s Churn and Thor’s Well.
Just 15 minutes South from Cape Perpetua, enjoy a stop at Haceta Head to see the seals and the famous lighthouse. You can hike up to the Heceta Head lighthouse, the trail is about 1 mile roundtrip.
Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area
I LOVED this stop! I would budget a few hours for Cape Kiwanda so you can hike up the rather large sand dune and get the view that is pictured below.
We spent a bit of time exploring along top of the sand dune, and walking around on the beach afterwards looking for starfish!
Note: There is a 10$ parking access fee to visit this area.
Oregon Dunes National Recreatation Area
Visit these large sand dunes a little North of Bandon, OR if you want a real adventure. You can explore the dunes on foot, go sandboarding, or rent a dune buggy to cruise up and down the sand dunes!
Face Rock State Scenic Corridor
This was one of those spots I knew I had to see. I was really hoping for a good sunset here but unfortunately it was so foggy and cloudy when we arrived.
We spent a solid hour here walking around and taking photos, admiring all the huge rocks. The most famous is the Wizard Hat which you can see below. It was a lot of fun climbing up, down, and through some of the rocks on shore.
I think this is an underrated stop, or maybe that is just because I am a sucker for enjoying food with a view and no work!
We stopped at Redfish for brunch on a weekend and it was so good. Plus to work off our breakfast we got to walk along a beautiful beach!
We stopped here for a long lunch break on our road trip and it was such a little hidden paradise that wasn’t on my initial radar. Ariya’s Beach is just a few minutes North of Samuel H. Boardman.
The sun was shining bright the day we were there, so we plopped our chairs out and relaxed for a while. We were even treated to some wildflowers along the coast which made the scenery even more special.
Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor
To me, Samuel H. Boardman is truly the crown jewel of the Oregon Coast. I personally liked the whole Southern 25% part of the coast more than the rest, but it really is all beautiful!
The corridor is only 12 miles long but it is spectacular and there is a lot to do & see!
Natural Bridges is probably the most pictured spot in this park, and maybe the whole Oregon Coast. There are two ways to get down there and I tried to do them but dang is it sketchy! You basically have a left and right side. I thought the left side was more doable but there are some very narrow, slick, and steep parts with high drop offs and waves crashing below you. It’s stressful and I never want to risk my life for a photo. The Mandagies have a very useful guide on this & how to do do it safely. However, you can always get a great view from the boardwalk viewpoint which is a short walk from the parking lot!
Also visit these stops while in Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor:
- Secret Beach
- Arch Rock: my favorite because we saw this at sunset
- Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint– A short 1 mile hike we did on a foggy morning
- House Rock Viewpoint
- China Beach
- Whaleshead Beach
Oregon Coast Packing List
- Lightweight, moisture wicking clothes for hitting the hiking trails.
- Hat and sunglasses, especially in the summer months.
- Layers for chilly mornings and evenings- Wearing a wool baselayer, a fleece, and an outer layer should keep you warm and dry.
- Rain jacket- No matter the season, you should bring a rain jacket for the coast.
- Water, snacks, and electrolyte tabs to keep yourself hydrated & healthy on hikes.
- Day hiking backpack. I love my Osprey daypack which has lasted me years and dozens of hikes.
- Hiking boots- I love my Columbia Newton Ridge Waterproof hiking boots. They’re affordable and have lasted me dozens of hikes so far including backpacking trips.
Final Thoughts on the Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast is still one of my favorite places I’ve been to in the United States. It is a place I’d go back to in a heartbeat. There is so much to do there with state parks, hikes, ocean views, Redwoods scattering the coast line, and one of my favorite sunsets I’ve ever seen! Plus, it’s a great place to combine with other destinations in Oregon or Northern California.
At a minimum, you need 3 days to enjoy the Oregon Coast. But to really get the most of each stop and give yourself time in the chance of bad weather, it is best to have 4-5 days. The best time is to visit is between the months of July- early October to give you the best weather and long days to explore the coast. And don’t forget to book your accommodations early, especially in the peak summer season.