• Pathloom Guest Blogger

Oregon Coast Adventure Guide 2022: How to Travel on a Budget

Outdoor Adventure in the Pacific Northwest Made Cheap and Easy!


waves crash against a rocky outcropping sitting on the misty shoreline of the Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan


 

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One of the best ways to have an affordable outdoor adventure vacation is to go camping, especially when utilizing dispersed campsites, which typically offer free camping options. Along the Oregon Coast, there are several great free camping areas, that feature amazing Oregon hikes, waterfalls, and other beautiful landscapes - offering tons of outdoor activities that you can fill your days with.


You may want to keep in mind that because these areas are free and lie on BLM land, they are always first come, first serve. You can expect them to be much busier on holidays and weekends, so we would suggest getting there on a Thursday or early Friday if you can’t make a mid-week visit work. Many of these areas tend to be more secluded, which makes for an extremely peaceful outdoor experience - but it also generally makes them harder to reach. Some may require you to have a vehicle with off-roading capabilities. Van, car, and tent camping are typically the best options - it will likely be hard to find a large enough spot to support an RV, and these sites certainly won’t have hookups.

So, let’s take a deeper look at each of these amazing, free, Oregon Coast dispersed campsite areas and dive into what makes each one so special - what waterfalls, lakes, or hiking trails to watch out for - and what type of gear you might need while you are there.


The lush forests of Oregon contain hundreds of trails, dispersed camping options, and outdoor adventure of all types

Oregon Coast - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan



Tillamook State Forest

Tillamook is near Portland, Cannon Beach, and some of the other Northern Coastal towns of Oregon, which makes it an excellent option if you are looking for an affordable way to get away from the city for a few days. What makes this area special is that it allows you to find your little piece of paradise, where you can wake up on the river, grab your canoe or kayak and start your day right away. There are some easily accessible hikes around that lead to amazing views throughout the region as well.

Oregon Hikes at Tillamook State Forest

The weather in this area tends to be highly variable depending on the time of year. Expect heavy amounts of rain from the fall through the spring - summer conditions will be dryer, but as this is the Pacific Northwest you cannot rule out the rain over these months as well.


To ensure you have the gear you need for this affordable outdoor vacation - just keep scrolling! We will recommend the optimal gear for these trips - and help you find some of the best deals to ensure you’re fully prepared for your next Oregon Coast camping or hiking trip.


Crystal clear river water reveals thousands of weathered stones beneath the shallow current

Oregon Coast - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan



Smith River Falls


Smith River Falls is more centrally located on the Oregon Coast, near Eugene and Reedsport. There are some great waterfalls for swimming in the summer, and there are tons of dispersed campsites off the Smith River Road, along with free camping at the Smith River Falls Campsite. The Falls themselves are located a short distance away from the campsite - easily walkable, but you can drive there as well. The area also provides a boat launch. Unlike the Tillamook area, Smith River Falls is only open during the summer months, from Memorial Day through the end of September.


This area is excellent for swimming with the kids, seeing bald eagles and other wildlife, boating, and all sorts of other aquatic activities. It is a great place for the whole family, however like most of these free areas they get extremely busy during summer weekends and holidays - just something to keep in mind when planning your affordable outdoor adventure vacation.


Since this area is only open during the summer months weather conditions aren’t quite as variable, however as previously discussed you still can’t rule out the rain on any given day. There is plenty of shade, but we would still highly recommend sun protection - as well as a bit of rain gear in case those summer showers do roll in.


A mountain enshrouded in mist (and perhaps some wildfire smoke), looming over the trees and sand line of the Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan



Mount Hebo


Mount Hebo is located right off Highway 101, and has some of the best free dispersed campsites on the Oregon Coast. It is close enough to Portland to make it a great affordable outdoor vacation destination for people in the city, but it is even closer to Salem, between Tillamook and Lincoln City on the coast. Mount Hebo camping offers amazing views of the Pacific Coast on a clear day, and is perfect for an Oregon Coast day hike on the Pioneer Indian Trail in the Siuslaw National Forest.


Dispersed campsites in the area are open year-round, but during the winter sites can be almost impossible to get to due to rough road conditions. Even during the summer months, smaller camping vehicles are better - 4 wheel drive is recommended. The Mount Hebo area is great for hiking, swimming, and seclusion

.

The weather in Mount Hebo is similar to Tillamook, with varying conditions featuring lots of rain starting in late fall through the spring. Be sure to prepare well depending on the time of year you visit!


Fascinating rock formations dot the Oregon Coastline mere feet away from soft brown sand

Oregon Coast - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan



Gear List & the Best Place to Find It


To make sure you have the right gear required for your desired outdoor activity, you may want to investigate buying secondhand. Purchasing used equipment is an affordable and sustainable way to buy gear for your next adventure on a budget. Used purchases are all about the overall life cycle of gear - too much gear collects dust that has plenty more usage left. You will not only be helping your wallet, you will also be maintaining the circulation of gear, which helps sustain our planet for future generations.

Rerouted is a great place to find secondhand gear. Rerouted’s app is designed to make buying, selling, and donating secondhand gear easier, faster, and more affordable. Its mission is to make secondhand gear people's first choice. Rerouted makes outdoor gear more affordable so that no matter what your budget is, they can help you create your next outdoor adventure.


To make your next affordable outdoor adventure to Tillamook State Forest, Smith River Falls, and Mount Hebo easier we have included a list of camping gear and outdoor gear that you might want or need while you are out there.

Greenery stretches for miles over a trail in the forests near the ORegon Coast.

Oregon Coast - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan



Camping & Activity Gear Checklist


- Tent with rainfly

- Tent Footprint

- Sleeping pad

- Synthetic sleeping bag (better for wet conditions)

- Bear-proof food storage container

- Water or water filter

- Sun protection

- Hat

- Sunglasses

- Wool base layers

- Fleece jacket

- Rain gear for you

- Rain gear for your hiking pack

- Wool socks

- Waterproof boots

- Rubber boots

- Water bottles

- Cooking stove

- Camp cook set with utensils

- Headlamp

- Swimsuit


Kayak Checklist


- Kayak/Canoe

- Paddle

- Dry bags

Hiking Checklist


- Backpack

- Rain cover

- Extra pair of socks

- Extra layers

- Snacks

- Hiking boots


 

Guest Blogger Sam Brown and her husband are the outdoor entrepreneurs behind Rerouted.com, with a strong passion for the outdoors and the gear you need to enjoy it. They have roots in the Pacific Northwest, and have had many fun times exploring the Oregon Coast over the last few years.

 

Get exclusive stories, trail reports, National Park alternatives, recipes, and more delivered directly to your inbox from our growing team of experienced thru-hikers, former National Park employees, and fellow adventure lovers.



 

Check out these other articles by Pathloom which you may enjoy:


Striking Gold in the Beaver State: 5 must-experience Oregon Adventures

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Very Superstitious: Phoenix In The Fall

The Resilience of the Redwoods: Big Basin’s Rise from the Ashes

Leave No Trace Principles

Types of Camping

Where the West Begins



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