Oregon’s rugged southern coast is chock full of amazing sandy beaches and other natural places to discover. This is a list of the 10 best beaches in Southern Oregon that are close to the Northern California cities of Crescent City and Klamath. Each of these ocean beaches are large and uncrowded with Oregon’s typical gray sand and tons of driftwood. Beachcombing here is excellent and you never know what you’ll find. Parking is free at all these beaches so stay as long as you want. These beaches are listed south to north.
Crissey Field State Recreation Site
Not to be confused with the popular park with the same name (but different spelling) in San Francisco, this one is seldom crowded. It’s so close to California that you can walk there from Pelican State Beach. Crissey Field Beach is covered in driftwood and gets visitors up close and personal with Winchuck River which hits the Pacific Ocean at this park. The parking lot is well signed as you drive north and the turn is just over 0.1 mile from the “Welcome to Oregon” sign. More info here.
McVay Rock State Recreation Area
This is a hidden gem that most drivers of Highway 101 will never see. It’s on Oceanview Drive which parallels the highway south of Brookings (turn left off the 101 at 0.9 from the border) Here you get an off-leash dog area, more driftwood and open spaces for tossing a football or Frisbee. There’s even a disc golf course onsite. The beach is excellent for unique discoveries, but don’t go at high tide. More info here.
Sport Haven Beach
Here’s a wide sandy beach just south of Chetco River in Brookings, OR. This one is great if you want to camp or stay overnight on the ocean. Behind the beach you’ll find Beachfront RV Park and the Beachfront Inn Hotel.
Harris Beach State Park
You get two beaches for the price of one at this park (parking is free however). Both coves have parking lots with beach access however if you want facilities like restrooms and picnic tables, drive to the loop lot at the end of the road and go to the north beach. There’s a huge campground open year-round at Harris Beach if you want to make this your basecamp for a while. You’ll find the turn to Harris Beach State Park at around 7.5 miles from the California border (the south beach is accessed from the first lot on the left). More info here.
Lone Ranch Beach
Part of Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, Lone Ranch Beach and Picnic Area is north of Brookings and in a very scenic part of the Oregon Coast. It’s 10.5 miles from the California border to the parking lot entrance for Lone Ranch Beach. Want to hike? The Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) runs along the shore in this corridor so start at the Lone Ranch Trailhead and go north for an true adventure. More info here.
Another sandy beach in Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor is Whaleshead Beach (photo above). The main northern parking lot for this beach has a short trail that drops down on the north side of Whalehead Creek (yes different spelling) and might necessitate a wade across. If you want to keep your shoes dry look for the trail at the end of the lot which goes around the creek mouth. The southern lot (signed “Whaleshead Viewpoint”) also has a beach access trail, but it’s steep and can be slippery when wet and might be closed if the park deems it dangerous. More info here.
Ok this one is secret so we can’t tell you about it. However this area is full of natural wonders to see. Stop at Natural Bridges (milepost 346) to see seven rock arches and “blowholes”. If the parking lot is full, there’s room for a few more cars at a small lot to the north behind a guardrail (coordinates 42.1969, -124.3705). This lot has a trail that goes to Secret Beach. Oh man we just gave it away. Hit this beach at low tide for tidepools and more shoreline to explore!
Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint
If you like dunes, you’ll like the beach at Pistol River. This is a large beach at the mouth of the river which is very dynamic. Sometimes the river doesn’t breach the sand so you can walk all the way across to the north side. The best place to park is in the lot just south of the Hwy 101 bridge over the river. There’s another lot to the north across from Pistol River Road with easy beach access but it’s farther from the river mouth. More info here.
Myers Creek Beach
This beach has three parking lots along Highway 101. The south lot (coordinates 42.3015, -124.4113) is our favorite as it is protected by large rocks at a point and has a gradually sloping beach (look for a rock arch in this area). The middle lot is near the creek mouth at Myers Creek Road. The north lot is great too as it has unique undulating sand and a lot of beach to explore to the north. No matter where you park, Myers Creek Beach is excellent for long beach walks.
Kissing Rock Beach (Hunter Creek Beach)
Look for Kissing Rock just south of the town of Gold Beach and park there. You can walk on the beach for miles on the sand (except at highest tides) and it’s great for beachcombing especially to the south. North of the rock you can walk to the creek mouth and look back at the rock which kinda resembles a shark fin. If you can get across the creek the beach goes all the way to the Rogue River in Gold Beach.
Otter Point State Recreation Site
We had to include this beach too (yes this is the 11th) because it’s a hidden gem and few tourists stop to see it. For beach access look for parking areas and trails on the ocean side of Old Coast Road north of the city of Gold Beach . Near the north end of Old Coast Road (before it connects back with Hwy 101) there is a more substantial parking lot with access to Otter Point, a rocky prominence with crashing waves and unique geologic formations. If you happen to see a truck on the beach it came from an access near the Rogue River mouth in Gold Beach a couple miles away. We don’t suggest trying that as the beach is all wet at high tide in a few places and the sand is easy to get stuck in (beach towing bills are expensive). Otter Point is 39 miles from California. More info here.
Remember that the Oregon Coast is wild and waves can be unpredictable so never turn your back on the ocean at any of these beaches. Outside of the summer months it is usually cloudy and cool on the Oregon Coast so dress appropriately. All of these beaches are fun to visit year-round, just watch your footing on the trails and stay warm so you can explore comfortably.