If you haven't been here yet, the southern Oregon Coast should certainly be on your camping bucket list. With only a few access points from I-5, the coastal Highway 101 can seem hard to get to, but when you find yourselves the only family on the beach for miles around - you'll know it was worth the trek.
Sunset Bay State Park, just south of the inlet to Coos Bay, OR, is part of a cluster of beaches, rocky jetties, cliffs, tide pools, a lighthouse, and a stunning botanical garden. There are numerous campgrounds, picnic spots, hiking trails, and, most importantly, abundant sandy beach access.
The horseshoe-shaped cove at Sunset Bay State Park provides unique calm and shelter amidst the mostly open and wind-beaten Oregon coast. In summer you will find a busy campground, sunbathers, brave swimmers (the water is still very chilly this far north), kayakers, and windsurfers. In winter you will still find a community of RVers happily hiking and beachcombing between storms and enjoying the holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park to the south.
Opportunities for fishing, clamming, and crabbing are everywhere. With or without a boat, visitors will have a chance to catch their limit. Even if you lack the time or equipment to catch your own, Chuck's Seafood in the nearby Charleston Marina has been selling fresh-off-the-boat seafood since 1953. Their smoked oysters and salmon are sold in the top grocery stores in the country and you'll have a hard time leaving empty-handed.
The Cape Arago Lighthouse is visible from many places in the park and Cape Arago, to the south, is one of the top destinations on the Oregon Coast for whale watching all year round. Sunset Bay State Park is a perfect base-camp for a variety of adventures when you're driving your motorhome throughout Oregon.
Located on the scenic shores of southern Oregon, Sunset Bay State Park is a must-see. Far from any big city lights, this west coast park will have you reconnecting with nature in no time. With restrictions on trailer length on Highway 199 into Crescent City, CA, it is advisable to head to Highway 101 via Route 38 or 126 a bit to the north of Coos Bay, OR. When navigating up and down Highway 101 it is easy to pass attractions and want to turn around - this is not easy in a large motorhome.
Oregon roads are slower and more winding than other western states, but the state maintains the roads well. You'll find a friendly and relaxed attitude on the roads, which is very appreciated when you're pulling a big load. The campgrounds have easy access and many pull-through sites. They are level and overhead branches are well-trimmed. Plan your stops carefully or take a smaller vehicle for day trips.
Sunset Bay State Park Campground offers 139 total sites with 63 accommodating trailers and RVs. There are 30 full hookup sites and 35 with just power and water. The Oregon State Parks system is famously clean, affordable, and convenient to reserve online. There are even photos of each site to give a good estimation of room for awnings and slide-outs and also tree cover. Each site comes with a fire pit where you can cook up some delicious meals and a picnic table where you can dine under the stars. The campground has showers and flush toilets. The maximum RV length varies from 20 to 50 feet. Camping at Sunset Bay State Park includes access to nearby Shore Acres and Cape Arago State Parks. This pet-friendly campground is open year-round, and reservations are available up to eight months in advance.
Those who are looking to get away from the RV for a night or two should consider renting one of the Sunset Bay State Park's eight yurts. These yurts are the perfect middle between tent camping and RV camping with wood floors, lockable doors, heat, and electricity. Guests will find bunk beds and futons in each yurt, along with a picnic table, a fire ring, and paved parking right outside their door. Four of the yurts are pet-friendly, and three are ADA-accessible. The yurts are available year-round and reservations can be made up to eight months in advance.
If you couldn't secure a spot to park the RV for the night at Sunset Bay State Park, you won't have to go far to find alternate accommodations. Bullards Beach State Park is located just 30 minutes south of the park and offers hundreds of full hookup sites to RVers. Cape Blanco State Park is just a bit further south than Bullards Beach, and those who make the journey will find a quiet campground with 52 RV- and trailer-friendly sites. William M. Tugman State Park is situated to the north of Sunset Bay and is equipped with nearly 100 partial hookup sites.
This section of Oregon is so perfect for viewing monster winter storm waves that there's a designated viewing shelter at the nearby Shore Acres State Park. There are many fantastic spots between Cape Arago and Bastendorff Beach to get close enough to 100-foot waves that you'll have salt spray on your raincoat. Often large sets of waves will appear on dry and calm days from large storms hundreds of miles offshore, so you don't necessarily have to get wet to enjoy. If you're here for the pictures, make sure your camera can handle the rain and saltwater. Always watch out for eroding ledges and never turn your back to the ocean.
Your entrance to Sunset Bay State Park also provides you with access to the truly unique Shore Acres State Park, which is directly to the south. Shore Acres is more than five acres of carefully planned, planted, and cared for gardens which were once a private residence. There is a stunning ocean-side hiking trail that takes you to Shore Acres in less than a mile, or you can drive to the main entrance and gift shop south on the Cape Arago Highway. Volunteers have been lighting the gardens in December since 1987, and the expansive display attracts over 50,000 visitors each year from all over the world.
Just a few minutes north, Bastendorff Beach County Park is the place to be with a surfboard. The big swells roll off from stormy winter weather, but even in the calm of mid-summer six to 12-foot waves are common. Either way, the water is chilly, and you'll need a full wet suit with gloves and booties to stay warm at any time of year. Waves break all along the beach depending on the wind direction, and the bottom is sandy away from the jetty. The local Coos Bay surf shop can meet you there with rental equipment and lessons. Just call and reserve a time.
The park's interpretive center is open May through September with a variety of guided walks with State Park Rangers. There are great opportunities to learn about history, geology, wildlife, and the marine ecosystem nestled into the vast tide pools at the rocky mouth of Sunset Bay. The rangers are also great at spotting grey whales which feed past the cape all year. The rocks are very sharp, so pack a pair of good shoes along with you in the campervan!
The ocean isn't the only thing that awaits you at Sunset Bay State Park. There are also miles of hiking trails that will take you through coastal forests and across rugged headlands. Of course, there are also miles of beach that you can walk if you want to be near the water. The park's trails connect to both Shore Acres State Park and Cape Arago State Park to the south, and you could spend days hiking this pristine area. For some good vantage points of the bay, stop off at Gregory Point and the Cape Argo Lighthouse.
Although the water in the bay is well, crisp, to put it mildly, that shouldn't stop you from exploring the park's shoreline. Kayaks and standup paddleboards are available for rent from the park, and spending an afternoon paddling around the bay is a great way to get a unique vantage point of Sunset Bay State Park and complete a workout to boot. Storms can be dangerous for boaters out on the water, so be sure to pay attention to your surroundings and head in if the weather is looking questionable.