5 Best Places to Ride Sand Dunes in Oregon
Oregon is home to some of the best dune riding in the country. In fact, people from all over the US travel to ride the dunes in Oregon. I have put together this list of where to ride sand dunes in Oregon.
Each riding area has something different to offer. The Oregon dunes are actually our favorite place to ride and we have taken many trips up there every year.
Here are all the best places to ride sand dunes in Oregon.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
One of the largest expanses of costal sand dunes in the world. This area extends for 40 miles along the Oregon coast from Florence, OR to Coos Bay, OR.
Since this is such as large area, the places to ride are broken down into three different sections. The three different OHV areas are the North, Middle and South riding areas.
While these are part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, they all three are accessed at different spots. These three sand riding areas will be the first three on this list of the best places to ride the dunes in Oregon.
1. Horsefall / Spinreel (North Bend)
This area is the south portion of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. This area is located in North Bend OR and is only about 13 minutes from Coos Bay OR. This is the south area of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
This is a convenient location, because it’s only a quick drive to town if you want to go eat, or need to pick something up from the store. There are even a few different motorcycle shops in Coos Bay just in case you need to get some parts.
To ride on any part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area you are required to purchase a Off-Highway Vehical Permit. The cost of the permit is $10 and it is valid for 2 years.
This permit can be purchased at most cycle shops in the Oregon Area or online from the Oregon State Parks website. You will receive a sticker to place on vehicle, motorcycle, buggy, UTV, or dirt bike.
The only other costs that you would have to pay to ride at Horsefall / Spinreel is to park. You can purchase a day use pass for only $5 per vehicle to park in the day use area.
The Horsefall / Spinreel dune ridding area has riding option for all skill levels. There aren’t any really large dunes. The sand dunes borders a lake one one side and the ocean on the other. There are also many trees on this sides of the dunes.
You can find some fun throught the tree trails and some hill shoots near the lake side. The southern most portion of this area is Horsefall. If you ride north you will reach the Spinreel side, which has a beach access trail where you can ride out on the beach.
This dune riding area is large, and there are some fun places to explore. This would also be a great spot for beginners since the dunes aren’t too big.
There are full hookup campgrounds as well as dry and sand camping. You can even ride right from your camp site to the dunes. You will also find showers and bathrooms.
The Oregon Coast can get windy and cold. So make sure you dress warm and be prepared for rain. Also, sometimes it can get foggy and it makes it easy to get lost due to limited visibility. It might be a good idea to bring a gps just in case.
This area is very popular and it can get really busy during the holidays and summer. So if you don’t like crowds you should plan your trip during the week.
For more information visit the Horsefall / Spinreel website.
2. Umqua Dunes (Winchester Bay)
The Umpqua Dunes which is more commonly called Winchester Bay makes up the Middle OHV riding portion of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. It is located just 4 minutes outside the small town of Winchester Bay OR.
Anytime that you are riding at the Oregon dunes you have to have a OHV permit. The cost for an Oregon OHV permit is just $10 and it is good for two years. It also costs $5 to park your vehicle in the day use area.
The dunes at Winchester bay border the Ocean on one side, and a lake and forest on the other. There is a wide variety of dunes to ride on. Out of all the riding areas in the Oregon dunes, Winchester Bay has the largest dunes.
In addition to larger dunes, there are some fun trails throught the trees, and a large area for riding. You will also find some amazing views. When you are up on the dunes you there is an endless view of the ocean. You can see the ocean from here, but there is no dune access to ride on the beach.
One popular hill climb at Winchester bay is Banshee Hill. This is where people gather and ride up and down the hill. It used to be much harder, but it is still a pretty good climb. The view at the top is amazing. It is the perfect spot for watching the sunset and a great view of the ocean.
If you are looking for big dunes, then this is the location that you will want ride. We have rode at all the dunes and this is one of our favorite places to ride.
Make sure you dress warm and bring rain gear, because these dunes are right on the coast so it can get windy and rainy. You can still ride when its raining, you will just want to have some rain gear.
This area gets really busy on weekends and holidays so make sure that you reserve camping spots early and if you don’t like crowds try to plan your trip in the middle of the week.
Winchester Bay is also the location of the popular Dune Fest event that is held annually. One nice thing about riding at Umpqua Dunes is the location.
There are many RV parks with full hookups, dry camping, sand camping and even vacation rentals right near the dunes.
There are even a few restaurants, stores and a pizza place just 3 minutes from the dunes in the little town of Winchester Bay.
For more information please visit the Umpqua Dunes website.
3. Siltcoos / South Jetty (Florence)
This area is know as the North Section of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. It is located right on the coast about 7 miles from the small town of Florence OR. The riding area runs from Siltcoos to South Jetty.
To ride on the dunes you must have a State of Oregon OHV permit that costs $10 and is valid for 2 years. Also you have to pay a day use fee for parking. The day use fee is only $5.
The dunes at Florence are larger than Horsfall / Northbend but smaller than Winchester Bay. This is a very large ridding area. The dunes border the treas on one side and the ocean on the other.
You will find quite a bit of wide open riding, some fun hill climbs, and some trails throught the trees. This area also has a beach access trail so that you can go ride right out on the beach.
One popular location here is known as the “drag strip”. It’s a long flat area that runs parralel to the beach where people like to race.
There are not really any close full hookup RV parks near florence that have access to the dunes. However, there are some areas for sand camping, and some campgrounds that have dry camping that have bathrooms and showers.
The campgrounds have direct dune access so you can just ride right from your campsite out to the dunes. Since florence is just a few miles away, it’s a quick and easy drive to town if you need parts, want to go eat, or to do some shopping.
Just like the other two dune riding areas on the Oregon Coast, this area is next to the ocean so it can get really cold and windy.
You should be prepared for rain as well especiall if you are planning your trip in the winter. Florence is a favorite of many, and a great place to ride on at the Oregon Dunes.
For more information visit the Siltcoos / South Jetty website.
Here is helpful video that I found that shows and explains all three different riding areas in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
4. Christmas Valley Sand Dunes
These sand dunes are located in the high desert of southern Oregon about 60 miles south of Bend Oregon. The closest town to the dunes is the small town of Christmas Valley. The OHV area is managed by the BLM.
It is FREE to ride the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes, but you do have to have a State of Oregon OHV pass that costs $10 for 2 years. You can purchase this pass online or at most cycle shops in Oregon.
The actual riding area consists of 89,000 acres so there is plenty of area for riding. There are some fun medium sized dunes and sand bowls, but the dunes are not quite as big as the dunes in the Oregon Dunes National Recrational Area on the Oregon coast.
The actual sand is more of a silty dirty sand because the dune area was formed when Mt. Mazama erupted 7,000 years ago and the sand is made of ash and pumice that was carried by the wind. It can get really dusty.
Surrounding the riding area is private property, a forest (Lost Forest) and a lake (Fossil Lake). To keep this area open to riders it’s important to stay off the private property and not ride near the forest or lake.
Fossil Lake and the Lost Forest is actually part of an special interest wilderness study because a forest and lake shouldn’t exist in this hot area.
Make sure you visit May to September because it gets too hot to ride during the spring and summer. Temperatures can often reach over 100 degrees.
Also, the road that goes out the the dune riding area is not maintained and is really rough. It can even be impassable at times during the spring when it gets muddy. It’s recommended that you only travel the road with 4×4.
There is dry camping available near the dunes, but NO hookups, bathrooms or showers. You will need to bring everything that you need with you since the closest town (Christmas Valley) is 16 miles away.
In the town of Christmas Valley you will find motels, restaurants, gas and shopping.
5. Sand Lake Recreation Area
The Sand Lake Recreation Area is located on the Oregon Coast about 15 miles southwest of Tillamook OR. It is surrounded by the forest on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.
It is FREE to just use the Sand Lake Dunes for the day. You are required to have a Oregon ATV permit that costs $10 for two years.
It covers 1,076 acres of open sand dunes. Surrounded by the forest and pacific ocean.
The riding area is the smallest dune riding location in Oregon. It is about 1076 acres of sand dunes. There are no big dunes like you will find at the Oregon Dunes National Park. There are some hill shoots and trails throught the tree line to explore.
The sand is nice and soft like you would find at the other dunes on the Oregon coast. You can also ride right on the beach.
While this sand dune area isn’t very big, it is a popular little spot to ride sand dunes in Oregon. It can get even busier during the holidays and summer.
There are three campgrounds including dispersed camping. You will also find bathrooms and paved parking. The campgrounds are normally full every weekend. If you want to grab a spot you should reserve in advance.
Since this sand dune area is also located right on the coast you should be prepared for all types of weather. It can often rain, and be very windy or foggy. Make sure you check the weather and bring some rain gear just in case.
For more information visit the Sand Lake Recreation Area website.
Additional Things to Know
Anytime you are riding the sand dunes in Oregon you are required to have a Oregon Off Road Permit. This permit is $10 for two years. However, you might not need to purchase this permit if your bike already has a permit from another state that offers reciprocity.
Click here to the Oregon Off Road permit website to learn more about this, and to see if your state of residence is on the list. This can save you a bit of money.
Also, the State of Oregon requires that all riders operating a quad or motorcycle pass an online test to receive an ATV Safety Education Card. This card must be carried with you when riding on the dunes.
The online course is free and you can learn more about the requirements by clicking here to visit the course website. After you pass, they will send your safety card in the mail.
Oregon really does have some of the best sand dunes in the USA. If you have never been to the Oregon dunes I would highly suggest visiting. The dunes are nice clean sand and most dune access areas have full hookup camps located right next to the dunes.
Since it doesn’t get too hot in the summer, the Oregon Dunes are the perfect summer riding destination. They are also very affordable with most day passes costing only $5.