camping: Southern Oregon Coast

The Southern Oregon Coast is scenic and rugged, with sea stacks and tree-topped islands along the coast line. On this three night trip, we camped at Harris Beach and explored the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor.

Trip planning

Getting there

From Portland, the drive to Harris Beach campground is about six hours. Our favorite route is I-5 south, then Highway 38 west, passing through the towns of Drain and Elkton before reaching Reedsport at the coast. From there, the route south on Highway 101 passes through several coastal towns. We always plan a stop in Bandon to visit the Bandon Sweets & Treats candy store and lunch at one of the seafood restaurants next to the small harbor. The rest of the drive is sparsely populated until reaching Brookings and the campground.

Fortunately, there are several places in Brookings to purchase camping gear. On this trip, we forgot to bring our camping sleeping pads and we ran out of propane fuel for our camp stove on the last night, so the local Fred Meyer store came in handy (about 1 mile from the campground).

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

our campsite in section D

Harris Beach

Easily accessible from the campground via short trails, we spent a lot of time at Harris Beach at low tide.

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

trail from the campground to the beach

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

a few homes in Brookings are visible at the south end of the beach

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

sea stacks at Harris Beach

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

rocky shoreline at low tide

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

native Western Azalea

Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor

On the third day of our trip, we spent a full morning exploring parts of the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor, starting about 12 miles north of the campground at Arch Rock. Short trails lead to viewpoints looking to the north and south, as well as to the namesake Arch Rock.

Southern Oregon Coast camping tripSouthern Oregon Coast camping trip Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

Our next stop was one of our favorites, Thunder Rock Cove. From here, we hiked to Secret Beach and Natural Bridges. Both are accessible from the same parking lot, although the hike to Secret Beach is longer from this point, we enjoyed the trails through the forest. This part of the Oregon Coast is unlike any other… I especially love the sea stacks with conifers.

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

view to the south from Thunder Rock Cove

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

looking north towards Secret Beach

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

Secret Beach

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

Natural Bridges

Low tide and sunset at the beach

We wanted to be back at Harris Beach for low tide, so we headed back to camp for a quick lunch before spending time on the beach. At low tide, it’s possible to get around a few headlands that are otherwise inaccessible. At sunset, we scouted several locations at the beach before finding the perfect spot next to blooming wildflowers.

Southern Oregon Coast camping trip Southern Oregon Coast camping trip Southern Oregon Coast camping trip

This was our third time camping here, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. There’s still a lot in the area to explore, including more of the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor, the Chetco River, and Oregon’s Redwoods. Plenty of reasons to return to this incredible location!