HomeSand DunesSand Lake Recreation Area (Sand Lake, Oregon)

Sand Lake Recreation Area (Sand Lake, Oregon)

Sand Lake Recreation Area

Overview Of Sand Lake Oregon Recreation Area

Sand Lake OR
Photo by US Forest Service

  • Open: Year Round
  • Latitude / Longitude: 45.2971091, -123.958053
  • Usage: Medium / Heavy
  • Managed by: State of Oregon
  • Fee: $5 Per vehicle
  • Camping: Yes. 3 Developed, 1 Dispersed
  • Location: Northern coastal Oregon

From Tillamook OR (25 minutes)

Travel 11.1 miles south on Hwy 101
Right on Sand Lake Rd.
Drive 4.3 miles
Left to stay on Sand Lake Rd.
Drive 1.1 miles
Right on Galloway Rd. to destination

Sand Lake Dunes OHV Area

At only 3.5 miles long and 1, 076 acres, the Sand Lake Dunes are a fraction as large as the 47 mile long, 31, 500 acres that make up the Oregon Dunes OHV Area outside of Florence Oregon.

Of course, that makes them a little less busy, but despite their smaller size, they still get plenty busy.

These dunes are very beautiful, surrounded on three sides by a mixed-conifer forest and the Pacific Ocean on the western edge.

The 900 acre Sand Lake Estuary located adjacent to the dunes is well worth a visit on its own. No OHV traffic is allowed in the estuary in order to keep it in its natural state for all the birds who make their home in this area.

However, many other activities are available in the estuary including fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, swimming, crabbing and kayaking.

One nice thing about the Oregon coastal region is that it’s pretty great for year round riding. Of course, the big crowds come from Memorial Day to Labor Day, so with an off season trip, you’ll avoid the heavy crowds.

Virtually no one has air conditioning as it rarely gets into the 80. Summers typically are in the low/mid 70s which is near perfect riding weather.

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If you don’t mind suiting up, excellent riding can still be had even in the coldest winter months. December and January are the coldest months with temperatures in the 40s. Expect a whole lot of rain from November – January.

The Sand Lake Dunes are parabolic dunes, dunes that are formed by sand blowing off the ocean, pushing the sand into U shapes with wide open space at the opening of U facing the sea.

Like most parabolic sand dunes, the Sand Lake dunes aren’t that high, but they do offer up lots of wide open sand for riding with some smaller fun hills for cruising.

The smaller hills provide better visibility and attract less aggressive riders than Florence, so probably a safer option for families with young riders. 

There is only one day use staging area – West Winds Day Use OHV Staging. Access is either at this point or from one of the 4 campgrounds. There is drinking water and a flush toilet available at West Wind.

Oregon also has two other dunes open to off roading.

The Florence Oregon Sand Dunes are one of the largest and most popular in the US. The Christmas Valley Sand Dunes are a bit more off the beaten track, but definitely worth a visit.

Check out our ATV Sand Dunes page for a listing of all the dunes in the US open to off roading.

Sand Lake Dunes Camping

Developed Campgrounds

All the campgrounds are located close together

Sandbeach Campground

  • Open: Year Round
  • Latitude / Longitude: 45.2846348,  -123.956741
  • Fee: $25 per night
  • ADA Accessible: No
  • Pets: Only 2 sites are designated for pets – site 61 and site 62. But the rules say that pets are allowed on leases in campgrounds. (see below)
  • Reservations: Sites 1-21 and 23-62 are reservable. Recommended in the summer.
  • First come, first serve October 17 – March 31


  • RV and tent
  • Access to the dunes
  • A lot of trees for shade
  • Paved access
  • No hookups
  • 81 sites
  • Tables
  • Tent pads
  • Water
  • Flush toilets + Vault toilets
  • Fire rings
  • OHV loading ramp

East Dunes Campground

  • Open: Year Round
  • Latitude / Longitude: 45.2871209, -123.955960
  • Fee: $25 per night
  • ADA Accessible: No
  • Reservations: No reservations, first come first serve


  • 61 sites
  • Dune and beach access
  • Some sites have fire rings
  • No hook ups
  • Water
  • 1 Flush toilet

West Winds Campground

  • Open: Year Round
  • Latitude / Longitude: 45.286889, -123.957803
  • Fee: $25 per night
  • ADA Accessible: No
  • Reservations: No reservations, first come first serve


  • Campsites are paved
  • 20 walk up
  • Dune and beach access
  • Some sites have fire rings
  • No hook ups
  • Water
  • 1 Flush toilet

Sand Lake Dispersed Camping

Derrick Road Dispersed Camping Area

  • Open: Year Round
  • Latitude / Longitude: 45.286889, -123.957803
  • Fee: Camping is free, but must pay day use fee of $5 per vehicle
  • ADA Accessible: No
  • Reservations: No reservations, first come first serve


  • Dune access
  • Drive in sites among trees. Not paved, soft sand. Not recommended for RVs, ideally you should have a 4 x 4 to camp here.
  • No water
  • Limited picnic tables
  • Vault Toilet
  • Fire Rings

  • There is a 3 minute Tsunami warning siren test on the second Monday of each month.
  • No OHV riding between 12am – 6am except to set up or break camp.
  • For beach camping you are required to have and use a portable toilet.
  • ATV permits are required.
  • Oregon has strict laws applying to children and youth operators (see below).

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Everything Else You May Want To Know

.gov FAQ


Sand Lake Sand Camping Rules

  • There is no drinking water, restrooms or fire rings; please bring all necessary equipment including water, portable toilets and fire pans.
  • Please bring garbage bags; this is a “pack it in, pack it out” facility.
  • Alcohol is prohibited.
  • Occupancy check-in time is 2:00 p.m. and check-out time is 1:00 p.m.
  • Sound limit at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is 93 decibels.
  • Camp only within designated sites, and within 150 feet of site posts.
  • Drown campfires with water; do not burn cans or bottles.
  • Standard sites are limited to 5 vehicles/20 people. Group sites are limited to 10 vehicles/40 people.
  • Site use is non-transferable, revocable and fee is non-refundable.
  • Violation of conditions may result in a citation, fine and/or revocation of permit.

Are Dogs Allowed At The Oregon Dunes?

Yes, dogs are allowed within these guidelines:

  • In developed sites such as campgrounds and picnic areas, dogs must always be restrained or on a leash no more than 6 feet long.
  • Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet in the following areas: Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and Marys Peak Scenic Botanical Area.
  • Some beach areas are closed to dogs to protect nesting Western Snowy Plovers from March 15 – September 15. These areas are posted. Click here for details about the restricted areas, including maps of dog friendly beaches. 
  • Clean up dog waste.
  • Leave aggressive or unusually noisy dogs at home.
  • For the safety of others and your dog, we recommend keeping your dog on a leash wherever you’re hiking.
  • Remember to bring extra water, first aid supplies, and an ID tag for your dog.

Rules Regarding The Oregon Safety Course

  • All ATV and dirt bike riders are required to complete an ATV Safety Education Class.
  • Only one test/one card is required if you ride both ATVs and dirt bikes.
  • Dune buggy operators, sand rails, jeeps, 4×4 trucks, and sport utility vehicles (SUV) are exempt from the ATV Safety Education Class, but must possess a valid drivers license.
  • There are no age exceptions. Regardless of age, you must take this class.
  • Out of state riders can take an ATV Safety Course in their home state.
  • You must carry proof of class completion while riding on public lands. (this applies to both OR and out of state course completion).
  • Classes are free and can be taken online.
  • There is no minimum age for taking the test.
  • The class is written at an 8th grade level, so parents may need to go through the test with their children.
  • You can print out a temporary card to use while you wait for your plastic. card to arrive.
  • The test takes between 1 – 2 hours.
  • The test consist of 50 multiple choice questions.
  • You need to get at least 80% right to pass.
  • If you don’t get a passing score the first time, you can take the test again. If you fail the test the second time, you will have to go through all the training material again.
  • You can stop and start the process whenever you want. If you get timed out, you can just sign back in and continue on where you stopped.
  • You will receive yous ATV Safety card in the by within 30 days.
  • It’s $8 to get a replacement card.
  • If you rent a dirt bike or ATV in Oregon, they will give you a checklist to complete – this will serve as a temporary 30 day ATV Safety Education Class permit. After that, you will need to take the class.
  • If you buy a dirt bike or ATV in Oregon, they will give you a checklist to complete – this will serve as a temporary 30 day ATV Safety Education Class permit. After that, you will need to take the class.

Orgon OHV/ATV Rules and Regulations

Rules Applying To Children and Youth Operators

  • There is no minimum age for riding a Class I ATV in Oregon.
  • The minimum age for dirt bike riders is seven years old.
  • Children must only operate appropriate “rider fit” ATVs. (No kids on adult sized machines).
  • Must complete an ATV safety course (must carry permit card).
  • Adults supervising children must also compete an ATV safety course (must carry permit card).
  • Children under the age of 16 must also receive hands on training.
  • After passing the online ATV Safety Education Course, children receive a 6 month Certificate of Completion to practice riding, after which they are required to take a hands on training course.
  • Children between the ages of 7 and 12 must have both a state issued all-terrain vehicle operator permit and be accompanied by someone 18 or older with a valid driver’s license or state issued all-terrain vehicle operator permit.
  • Children under the age of 18 must wear a DOT approved helmet with the chin strap fastened on all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles.

Oregon State and BLM Rules Regarding OHV Use

  • Possession of alcohol is not allowed.
  • An OHV permit is required to ride on Oregon public lands.
  • In addition to the Oregon state OHV vehicle permit, the Siuslaw National Forest also requires OHV decals on trucks, cars and motorhomes for most campgrounds and day use staging areas.
  • You’re required to have a fire extinguisher in your truck, car or motorhome.
  • Operators with a suspended or revoked drivers license may not operate any class ATV.
  • Off-highway vehicles are allowed only on designated routes or areas.
  • You must have a valid driver’s license, state-issued all-terrain vehicle operator permit, or be accompanied by someone 18 or older with a valid driver’s license or operator permit.
  • Flags are required on all vehicles on the dunes. Flag must be between 8 – 12 inches wide, 9 feet tall from the ground up and orange or red in color.
  • Use headlights and taillights between dusk and dawn.
  • Mufflers must be maintained at 97 decibels.
  • Spark arrestor required.
  • Out-of-state visitors are required to have their state off-highway vehicle sticker, or must purchase a State of Oregon sticker to ride here.
  • Operate your off-highway vehicle sober, not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Possession of alcohol is not allowed.
  • Stay on designated travel routes between camping and day-use parking areas and the open dunes.
  • Respect the rights of other visitors as you enjoy your visit.

Oregon Out of State ATV Permit Laws

  • To operate on public land, all ATVs / OHVs are required to have an operating permit from either Oregon or one of the accepted reciprocity states listed below.
  • Residents of other states can register their OHVs in Oregon.
  • If your home state accepts Oregon ATV permits then Oregon will also accept your state ATV permit.

Oregon Currently Accepts Out Of State Permits From These States:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Featured Photo By Edmund Garman | Flickr

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