Looking for a unique way to enjoy your next camping trip? Get the kids ready and the RV packed because Siuslaw National Forest is brimming with opportunities to relax, play, and explore. Siuslaw National Forest is one of only two national forests in the United States situated on the coast. With the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Willamette Valley to the east, this diverse region is home to various ecosystems and biomes. The Oregon Coast Range runs north to south through the forest and adds to the breathtaking scenery. Four major rivers in the forest flow out into the Pacific Ocean, providing habitats for unique wildlife and excellent fishing for RV visitors of the forest.
Temperatures are moderate year-round, with summers averaging around 60 degrees near the coast and warming up as you make your way inland. Winters average between 30 and 40 degrees and snowfall is rare. Fog is a very common occurrence, adding to the beauty of the natural landscape.
Siuslaw National Forests also boasts one of the largest expanses of coastal temporal sand dunes, making it a perfect place for various forms of recreation including OHV riding, hiking, and beachcombing. Some of Oregon’s most sensational beaches are located in the forest and are open to the public for swimming, surfing, and lounging. The forest has almost 30 different RV-friendly campgrounds, and we’ve highlighted the top three to make the decision quick and easy for you. So, what are you waiting for?
Located southwest of Portland, The Siuslaw National Forest is easily accessible with multiple highways leading directly to the forest. The Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, Highway 101, is by far the most attractive option with views of the coast running parallel to the national forest. RV-friendly campsites are scattered all along the highway, and you could spend days driving up and down the coast viewing the scenery and wildlife. Landslides sometimes occur due to heavy rainfall in the area, causing parts of the highway to be closed, so check your route before heading out.
Legs of this highway are often congested during peak season from May to September. If you’re not a fan of traffic, you may have better luck on this stretch during the off-season. Although snow is rare, you may want to check the weather if you’re traveling in the winter.
RV and large vehicle drivers should beware of steep roads within the forest, as it’s situated within the Oregon Coast Mountain Range. Mary’s Peak is accessible but at a steep 4,098 feet above sea level, the winding road to the top can be daunting.
Located just minutes from the Pacific Coast, Sutton Campground is one of the largest campgrounds within the Siuslaw National Forest. This campground is easily accessible for large vehicles, just a mile off of Highway 101 on a paved road. The campground offers a whopping 80 campsites, 22 of which are equipped with electric hookups. The maximum RV and trailer length is 72 feet in the group camping areas and 45 feet at the regular campsites. Each site has a fire pit and picnic table, and flush toilets and drinking water are also available on-site. Sutton Campground is open year-round and reservations can be made up to six months in advance. Hiking is the most popular activity around this area, with trails starting right from the campground including the Sutton Trails and the Darlingtonia Trail. Sutton beach and Heceta are also a short walk or drive away. Other popular activities in this area include fishing and boating on the nearby Sutton Lake. This is a pet-friendly campground.
Carter Lake Campground is located in the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area of Siuslaw National Forest, making it the perfect place for a family vacation. The campground is open from the beginning of May to the end of September, offering 23 campsites for tents, RVs, and trailers. Driveway surfaces are paved, making it easy to maneuver your campervan. 30 feet is the maximum length of RVs and trailers at this campground. Each site is outfitted with a campfire pit and picnic table, and flush toilets and potable water are accessible at the campground as well. The main draw to Carter Lake Campground is the Oregon Dunes Recreation area, where families can hike or take their OHV for a ride on one of the many trails in this area. Carter Lake itself is nestled near the campground and is the perfect place for swimming, fishing, kayaking, or canoeing.
Perhaps one of the most breathtaking campgrounds in the park, Cape Perpetua is located on the banks of Cape Creek and is just a stone’s throw away from the Pacific Coast. This 37-site campground is open from mid-March to the end of September, with reservations available up to six months in advance. The maximum trailer and RV length is 30 feet. Campers will find a picnic table and fire ring at each campsite, as well as drinking water and flush toilets nearby. Giant Sitka spruce, coastal cliffs, rolling hills, and dense forests surround the campground, along with a 23-mile trail network. One of the most popular trails is the St. Perpetua trail, leading to one of the best views of the Oregon coast. Also within walking distance of the campground is the Cape Visitor Center with an outdoor viewing deck offering spectacular views of the coastline. This is a pet-friendly campground.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenging trek, or a novice seeking beautiful scenery, Siuslaw National Forest will not disappoint. An extensive trail network grants access to a variety of hikes, generally between one to three miles. If you’re up for a challenge, check out the Kentucky Falls on the Kentucky Falls Trail. For a more relaxed hike, consider the Cape Cove Trail, starting at the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center. Many trails leave right from your campground, so don’t forget to pack your hiking boots in the RV.
Some of Oregon’s best public beaches are accessible through the Siuslaw National Forest. Beach bums and explorers alike can rejoice about the miles of coast waiting to be combed. During the summer low tides, you can hunt for sand dollars, glass floats, and agates. If you need a break from driving the rig along the scenic Highway 101, there are plenty of beaches with easy access right off of the highway, most with paved parking.
Siuslaw National Forest is a favorite amongst water lovers. Swimming, canoeing, and tubing are all popular along the Alsea River. Tubing is especially well-liked by RV campers staying at Blackberry Campground in the summer, as the river runs right along the campground. Other water activities in the area include surfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. Numerous boat launches are available within the forest, many of which are situated near or in the campgrounds, so feel free to attach the boat trailer to the back of your RV.
The diversity of ecosystems in the forest make it an ideal location for fishing. Whether you’re saltwater or freshwater fishing, there are over 200 varieties of fish waiting to be caught! Anadromous fish such as salmon and steelhead return to freshwater during the off-season. Other popular fish species include surf perch, flounder, bass, and trout. If you want to try your hand at some nontraditional fishing methods, head to the pier at South Jetty Beach 6 for a day of crabbing.
The natural sand dunes in Siuslaw National Forest offer a magnificent expanse for open area and trail OHV riding. The two most popular stretches within the forest are the Sand Lake Recreation Area and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Both spaces have RV-friendly campgrounds situated nearby, so feel free to haul your own OHV behind your rig. If you don’t own one, there are private businesses located near the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area that rent OHVs and offer guided tours of the area.
Some of Oregon’s most scenic Byways cross through the Siuslaw National Forest, making it possible to see large portions of the forest through the window of your RV. If you’re not afraid of some steep and winding roads, take the Pacific Scenic Highway to Mary’s peak, the tallest peak in the entire coastal mountain range. The Pacific Coast Scenic Byway is famous for its views of rugged coastline and temperate rainforests in the north, and its sandy beaches, farmland, and lighthouses further south. If you’re driving along the coast in the off-season, you may even catch a glimpse of a migrating gray whale or a colony of sea lions!