Oregon Coast sand dunes
Scott A. Gese


At a little over 32,000 acres, this is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America. They’re part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

Oregon coast sand dunesOregon Coast Sand Dunes

Have you ever played in the sand? I’m not talking about a kid sized sand box or the sand traps at your local golf course, I’m talking about dunes. BIG Sahara desert sized sand dunes. I know where there are miles of them. Some are as high as 500 feet. They’re an impressive Oregon natural wonder. If you’ve yet to experience the Oregon dunes, you should put this amazing adventure on your to do list.

At a little over 32,000 acres, this is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America. They’re part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. They stretch from the coastal town of Florence, South to the town of North Bend. A distance of forty miles.

If you ever find yourself traveling the Oregon Coast Highway, here’s a suggestion.

Head toward the town of Florence. From the South end of the Siuslaw Bay Bridge, continue South for three miles to a place called Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park. The locals call it “Honeyman”, it’s easier.

At 500 acres, it’s one of the largest state parks along the Oregon coast. It was built in the late 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and it’s a great place to experience the dunes on a more up close and personal level. Here you can dig your bare feet deep into the soft sand and climb to the top of a giant sand dune.

Off-road vehicle (dune buggy) enthusiasts are restricted from this area so it’s a great place for kids, and adults, to play and have fun without the fear of being run over. There are other areas of the Oregon dunes where dune buggy enthusiasts are more than welcome. But not at Honeyman State Park.

When my siblings and I were younger, our parents took us to Honeyman on a regular basis. We never grew tired of it. My wife and I carried on the tradition with our own kids and they loved it as well.

You can get your vehicle very close to the dunes from here. In fact the sand begins at the edge of the parking lot. The actual dunes are down a short sandy trail about fifty yards or so.

You’ll meet the sand head on. At several hundred feet high, the closer you get to the parks main dune, the more you’ll realize what a massive hill of sand it really is. If you choose to take the trek to the top, your bare feet will easily sink up to your ankles as you struggle up this steep hill. Once you reach the crest, you have a decision to make. You can choose to explore the vast area of sand in front of you (it really does look like the Sahara) or you can run, tumble and slide your way back down to the bottom. It’s all great fun. As a kid there were many times it took a week or more to get all the sand out of my hair after coming home from Honeyman.

If you should decide to stay on top of the dune for awhile you can explore the vast and mostly desolate area. By no means is it flat up there. As kids, my brothers and I had the best time wandering around and pretending we were lost in the Arabian desert. We rolled down one hill after another pretending we were dying of thirst.

I can recall one time we decided to hike all the way to the ocean. We didn’t realize it was two miles away. It appeared to be a lot closer. It was a warm day and we didn’t bring water.

Water? We were kids. Bringing water was something an adult would think of.

It took us a couple of hours, but we made it. By the time we got back, we really were dying for a cool drink.

So keep in mind, if you decide to give this hike a try, be sure you have ample water and a hat with you. (I’m an adult now, I think about these things.) The hot sun and wind can dry you out in a hurry.

The Oregon coast is an adventure no matter what you decide to do. This surreal world of sand is an amazing natural wonder that shouldn’t be overlooked. I guarantee you’ll be talking about this Oregon coast adventure for years to come.

The Oregon dunes are one of the main attractions along the Oregon coast, but the area includes much more to see than just sand.

A number of wetland marshes support an abundance of wildlife. Native plants and trees including small groves of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, hemlock and red cedar are located in the area. There are dozens of hiking trails that allow you to experience this area close up.

<Here's a link to Honeyman State Park>


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