The Oregon Coast is one of the best places on earth to do a road trip. We had the time of our lives exploring this gorgeous stretch of land. In fact, we loved it so much that we developed the perfect Oregon coast road trip itinerary! We are talking everything from Ecola State Park to Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor. We will tell you how to camp along the Oregon coast (for free!) and a few other must-see destinations along your Oregon coast drive!
This Oregon coast road trip itinerary is a 5 day trip, because that is just about the maximum that it would take to drive the entire coast and see all of these wonderful sites. The trip could be done in 2 or 3 days if you are really cruising, however 4 or 5 days will be enough to see everything and not feel rushed! Especially if you do our bonus activity at the very end of the article.
Now, before we get started, one important note: the ENTIRE coast of Oregon is public land! That is truly special, and sets Oregon apart from every other state. From top to bottom, the Oregon coast is right there for you to explore, every single inch of it!
Most of the land is full of huge cliffs and sandy beaches, with forest hikes and nature walks dotting the way. Even the bridges are incredible! Now, without further ado, let’s get into the official 5 day Oregon coast road trip itinerary.
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Day 1 – Oregon Coast Road Trip
On Day 1, we are starting at the Northeast corner of Oregon in Astoria. We will be working our way to the Southeast corner of Oregon (and potentially a bit further if you’d like…) over 5 incredible days of adventure!
Astoria is a beautiful town located right where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. One of the hallmarks of Astoria is the enormous Highway 101 bridge that takes you North to Washington!
Note: If you are starting your journey from Washington, take this beautiful bridge down to Astoria!
In Astoria we recommend perusing the city and dining at one of the many local cafes. If you’re interested, there are also a bevy of breweries for you to go sample a few local beers. You can sit and chat about how excited you are for the incredible adventure that lies ahead!
Wreck of the Peter Iredale
The Wreck of the Peter Iredale is the only shipwreck along this journey. And my goodness is it a beautiful one! Located right along the beach, this will make for a beautiful photo stop, especially if you can catch it at a time when the sky is painted a pretty watercolor in the background.
Seaside Beach is the first of MANY beaches along this Oregon coast drive. This beach is an enormous beach that will take your breath away at its sheer size. On top of that, the beach has huge rock formations about 50 feet offshore that jut high into the sky. Get used to these beautiful rock formations, there are more in your future on Day 2 and beyond.
Day 2 – Oregon Coast Road Trip
On Day 2 we are continuing your Oregon coast road trip itinerary with some of the best sites you will ever see! This day starts at Ecola State Park and winds southward stopping at a few beautiful overlooks, hikes, and more!
We absolutely LOVE photography, and sharing pictures! These are the cameras we use on all of our adventures. The drone and GoPro help us get cool new perspectives (underwater, in the air, wide angle) and the Rebel we use on a day-to-day basis for most of our shots!
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Ecola State Park
Ecola State Park is a beautiful section of the coast that juts out into the Pacific, and is entirely open for exploration via hiking and nature trails. This State Park does cost $5 to visit, however that pass is good for every Oregon State Park for that day, and we will be visiting Hug Point and Oswald West State Park today as well. You will get your money’s worth!
Inside Ecola State Park, right at the end of the road that takes you through the park, is Indian Beach. If you would like to hang out on a beach for a nice morning picnic to kick off Day 2, this is the place to do it. You’ll have a beautiful scene in front of you and you can enjoy breakfast with the salty surf blowing in. Once you’ve eaten your fill, you should do the Clatsop Loop Trail, the best hiking trail in Ecola State Park.
Clatsop Loop Trail
The Clatsop Loop Trail is the first hiking trail on this Oregon coast road trip itinerary, and my goodness this is a great one! This trail through Ecola State Park is a 2.8 mile loop, so it is nothing to sneeze at but won’t be all too difficult.
The trail takes you through the beautiful Oregon coastal forest and comes out at a stunning overlook of the Pacific Ocean above a hidden beach. This place is perfect for quiet reflection, and for photography if you’re into that sort of thing. An added benefit of the Clatsop Loop Trail is that you can escape any crowds that may or may not be at Indian Beach if you are visiting Ecola State Park during a busy Summer weekend.
Cannon Beach is well known and one of the more famous stops along the Oregon coast drive. The beach itself is beautiful, however the number one reason to visit Cannon Beach is for Haystack Rock, the ENORMOUS rock formation just off the coast.
We took a ton of pictures of Haystack Rock, however the pictures just don’t do it justice. The rock is so dang HUGE that you have to stand hundreds of yards away just to get a picture!
Hug Point State Recreation Area is the next stop along our Oregon coast road trip itinerary, and this is a good one, folks. At Hug Point you will see unique sites that you don’t see at any of the other stops along this route.
Hug Point is a great area to go exploring. Make your way down to the beach and start walking along the shore. After a short while, you’ll come to a waterfall flowing onto the beach. We investigated a bit further and found a beautiful little walk along the stream that made the waterfall! Along the short walk were a few beautiful overlooks that were hidden from the shore.
Also along the Hug Point shoreline are a few rock formations that you won’t find elsewhere along the Oregon coast drive. Because of all this fun, you can’t miss Hug Point as you make your way South!
Oswald West State Park
Oswald West State Park, like Ecola State Park, costs $5 to enter, but is free if you’ve already purchased entrance into Ecola! That’s a great 2 for 1 special if we’ve ever heard one!
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Oswald West State Park is home to hiking and exploration, and is a perfect spot for a late afternoon picnic! In addition, at Oswald you’ll be able to find a hidden beach that is only accessible by hiking: Short Sand Beach!
Short Sand Beach
Short Sand Beach is accessible by hiking a short trail, just 1.2 miles round trip. The beach is not extremely well-known, so it will be a great place to get some peace and quiet for reflection in the beautiful masterpiece that is the entire Oregon Coast.
Garibaldi Pier is Oregon’s longest pier, at about 700 feet. The pier juts out into the ocean and gives you a new perspective looking back at the coast instead of looking out from it! Garibaldi Pier is worth a short stop at the end of your Day 2, maybe for a view of the sunset.
Day 3 – Oregon Coast Road Trip
On day 3 of this Oregon Coast road trip itinerary we will be taking up a big chunk of the center of the Oregon Coast. The drive along this section is absolutely stunning, and there are 5 incredible stops pretty evenly spaced along the coast as well.
The Tillamook Creamery is an absolute MUST see along your Oregon Coast drive, especially if you are a fan or cheese or ice cream. The creamery has a free tour that you can take of the cheese processing plant, and that comes along with a ton of free samples of everything you can get your hands on!
On top of all of this ice cream and cheese, also on site at the Tillamook Creamery are a bunch of delicious places to get a nice coffee and breakfast. There is a bit of a selection in this cafeteria-style setting, and we were very impressed by the quality of the food and drinks here!
Cape Kiwanda is another stunning site along the coast. This will be the first stop after breakfast at the Tillamook Creamery, and it can be a shorter stop as there is not much for hiking here.
What you can do at Cape Kiwanda is sit and enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean. The waves will be crashing along the rock formations, and you can sip your morning coffee while also drinking in the gorgeous painting in front of you.
God’s Thumb Trail
The God’s Thumb Trail (also called The Knoll) will be one of the tougher hikes on this 5 day Oregon coast road trip itinerary. The hike is 4.4 miles out & back, however the view at the top makes the effort more than worth it.
When you are sitting on God’s Thumb, you’ll be getting a bird’s eye view of the Oregon Coast that you’ve been having so much fun along! The beach goes for MILES, and you can see all of it from your perch at the conclusion of this awesome trail.
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You need clothes to travel. Heck, maybe you don’t. We don’t judge. If you want to hop around the world in your birthday suit then go right ahead! But if you want to cover up, here are a few of our favorite clothing items we love, and we think you’ll love too!
The Devil’s Punchbowl is a wonderful and unique rock formation that you can drive right up to. That is good, especially if you are still a bit tired from hiking God’s Thumb. The Devil’s Punchbowl is a cave with an open roof that allows you to peer down and see the churning water beneath.
This place gets its name because of the danger that awaits anyone who has fallen into the cave. The churning water and crashing waves makes for a an extremely dangerous situation for anyone who ventures too close, so PLEASE keep your distance!
Cape Perpetua is an excellent final stop on Day 3, as this is a great place to take in that beautiful Oregon sunset over the Pacific. At Cape Perpetua, there is also a beautiful marine garden if you are into that sort of thing, as well as Thor’s Well, another great rock formation. Spend as much time as you’d like to here at Cape Perpetua and then get some rest for an awesome Day 4!
Day 4 – Oregon Coast Road Trip
On Day 4 we are continuing our Oregon Coast drive with some more absolutely stunning sites along the Pacific. We will begin with a few points including a lighthouse, and continue on with a very unique activity – driving on the sand dunes! And we’ll finish at the absolutely incredible Bandon Beach.
Captain Cook Point & Heceta Head Lighthouse
Stops number 1 and 2 on Day 4 are Captain Cook Point and the Heceta Head Lighthouse. These are both absolutely beautiful stops, and are perfect to start the day and enjoy your morning coffee and breakfast. We recommend having a nice breakfast today because you’ll have some time if you want it. There aren’t any hikes on Day 4 of the itinerary, so you can take a leisurely drive down the coast stopping at all of these wonderful sites today.
Oregon Sand Dunes
The Oregon Sand Dunes are one of the top 3 stops along the entire Oregon Coast. We almost didn’t stop here, and WOW that would have been a big mistake!
The Oregon Dunes are much bigger than we thought they would be, and also much more fun. We drove our Jeep Commander ( named Sully) out onto the dunes, and had a blast driving on the beautiful Oregon sand!
Note: Only take your vehicle out on the dunes if you are confident you can drive out. 4 wheel drive and/or some good tires are a necessity.
Horsfall Beach Sand Camping
Horsfall Beach is another place you can drive out onto the sand, and is full of awesome recreational activities for you to do. You can rent dune buggies here, or at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, or even camp along the beach if you would like to! Camping is just $25 per night, and will give you an incredible experience that you won’t be able to get in many other places on earth.
Bandon Beach is a beautiful beach with some incredible rock formations along the coast. This beach is located right near a relatively large town along the coast: Bandon. At Bandon you’ll be able to get a nice place to stay (if you aren’t camping on Horsfall Beach) as well as a great dinner.
The best part about Bandon Beach is enjoying the beautiful sunset. As with all of these places along the Oregon Coast, the sunset is beyond words. The sun seems to set in a unique way at each place, making each view uniquely stunning on your way down the coast.
Day 5 – Samuel H Boardman State Park
Day 5 is without a doubt the best day along this Oregon Coast road trip itinerary. The Samuel H Boardman State Park (or State Scenic Corridor) is the most beautiful stretch of land along the entire coast, and the sites are densely packed together.
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Day 5 will have the most sites and the least amount of driving, you can drive to all of these sites in just 15 total minutes! This makes this stretch of land an absolutely perfect day of adventure and sightseeing. You’ll have a few hikes, some walks along the beach, and even the highest bridge in all of Oregon! Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Arch Rock is an incredible rock formation right at the northernmost point of Samuel H Boardman State Park. Really, this is basically the gateway to the most beautiful section of the Oregon Coast, however you can’t really go through the gate, unless you jump on a kayak or something.
Arch Rock is a beautiful place to begin your final day down the Oregon Coast. Take your breakfast to go and enjoy eating with this wonderful scenery before you.
If you’d like to get a morning hike in, Secret Beach makes for a great short little jaunt. The hike to the beach is 1.6 miles round trip, so it is enough to get the blood moving but not especially difficult. If you’d rather skip Secret Beach since we have a few beaches towards the end of the day, that is okay too!
Natural Bridges was Julie’s favorite site along the entire Oregon Coast drive! This is a rock formation that somehow created 2 awesome bridges that you can hike down to. The hike itself is less than a mile, but the terrain is pretty steep.
If you want to avoid the hike, you can enjoy the Natural Bridges from above, however we never felt that the trail was particularly dangerous, as long as you stay along the path. The views at the end are so so cool, it made the hike more than worth it.
Thomas Creek Bridge
The Thomas Creek Bridge is not a natural bridge, however it is equally impressive. This is the tallest bridge in all of Oregon, at a height of 354 feet! That makes the view from the bridge pretty jaw-dropping, and worth checking out.
To get to the Thomas Creek Bridge, you’ll have to drive about 100 yards past the bridge to a parking lot, and then walk back. Bonus: along that walk we found some ripe blackberries for a little fresh mid-day snack!
Indian Sands Trail
The Indian Sands Trail is the last real hike along the Oregon Coast! This hike is about a mile and loops around so that you don’t have to hike the same place twice. At the beginning of the hike, you’ll be hiking down through a forest, which will eventually clear out to reveal a path through a clearing.
That path will bring you to a HUGE expanse of sand dunes! We were pretty shocked to see all of that sand so high up from the coast, and had a blast running through the sand in our bare feet.
What is Harvest Hosts?
Harvest Hosts is a network of free camping locations all over the USA! Wineries, breweries, farms, museums, and even golf courses. You can camp free at all of them! And even better, if you click this link you’ll get 15% off!
Whale’s Head Beach
Whale’s Head Beach is named after the rock formation just off the coast. The enormous rock looks just like a whale breach the ocean about to come crashing back down to make a huge splash!
You can drive to this beach, however the road to get there is a bit steep and winding, so don’t go down the road with a huge RV or anything like that. If you do have a vehicle that you don’t want to take down the steep road, then you can park at the top and take a short walk down to Whale’s Head Beach.
The second to last stop on our Oregon Coast road trip itinerary is Cape Ferrelo. This is a beautiful overlook of the Oregon Coast complete with many of the rock formations that make this area so unique. We recommend stopping here for a late picnic, or maybe just a 20 minute walk alongside the view. However, make sure you spend some time at our final stop: Harris Beach.
Harris Beach State Park
Harris Beach State Park was Zach’s favorite stop along the entire Oregon Coast drive. This place was the PERFECT place to see a sunset, especially if it is your last stop along the Oregon Coast.
Harris Beach is pretty large, and offers a lot of opportunity for quick hikes up rock formations along the beach. We found that these quick hikes give you a bit of privacy as you’ll be the only people taking them!
Sitting on a little perch and watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean from Harris Beach will almost bring tears to your eyes it is SO SO beautiful. On top of that, seeing waves crash along the rocks is a very pleasant and relaxing way to end your road trip down the Oregon Coast.
Oregon Coast Road Trip Video
Bonus Day – California Redwoods
WOW! You thought we were finished? Nope! We have a bonus day for you if you are up for it! It is time to explore some of the largest trees on earth: the California Redwoods.
Located just over the Oregon-California border is Jedediah Smith State Park, which is home to some of the largest redwoods in California. Located deep inside this park is the Grove of Titans, the most magnificent trees we had ever seen! We could hug these bad boys and not even get 1/10 of the way around them.
Seeing these wonderful redwood trees makes for a great last stop along your Oregon Coast drive. We sincerely hope you enjoyed our Oregon Coast road trip itinerary! If you are interested in how we camped for free along the entire coast, read a little bit further!
Oregon Coast Camping
We were able to find free campsites each and every night down the Oregon Coast. How? 2 ways: iOverlander and Harvest Hosts. iOverlander is a crowd-sourced app that has a map full of free campsites all over the United States. However, there were a few places we came across that did not have good campsites, so for those we used Harvest Hosts! We loved using these two options as our Oregon Coast camping solutions.
Harvest Hosts is a network of wineries, farms, breweries, and more all across the United States that offers campsites for members! And as a bonus, if you use the link below and use code HHFRIENDS15 at checkout, you’ll get 15% off your membership. Enjoy!
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