Just south of Manzanita, Nehalem Bay State Park is perched on a 4-mile sand spit in a stand of shore pines. (Photo credit: Nickie Bournias)
Watch for migrating whales, seals and seal lions at Harris Beach State Park near Brookings. (Photo credit: Sharon Pieniak /
Camp just seconds from the beach at Beachside State Recreation Site between Waldport and Yachats. (Photo credit: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department)

So you’re interested in camping, but you’re kind of over sleeping on the ground and cooking by headlamp hunched over propane stove. Sure, you could go the glamping route (that’s glamour plus camping), but maybe 400-thread-count sheets and champagne in the woods is too far in the other direction. We’ve got just the thing for you: van camping, aka “vamping.” Pop-up campers offer easily accessible beds, petite kitchens and fold-down tables for eating (or cribbage anyone?). Compact and tidy, they are perfect for the car-camping section of the campground right next to the beach.

Camper vans for rent come with bedding, towels, dishes and some basic kitchen supplies. For information on rentals, check out, and Once you’re vamping ready, here are some not-to-miss spots on the Oregon Coast.

North Coast
Just south of Manzanita, Nehalem Bay State Park is perched on a four-mile sand spit in a stand of shore pines. The park has 265 sites and hot showers. Activities include kayaking, crabbing, fishing, clamming, beach combing and wildlife watching. Located along the Three Capes Scenic Loop south of Tillamook, Cape Lookout State Park has 170 tent sites and two group camping areas. Enjoy more than eight miles of hiking trails through the forest and strolling the beach on scenic Netarts Bay. Check out daredevil paragliders sailing down from the cliffs above.

Central Coast
Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area offers 54 tent sites situated near a scenic lake. It’s a great spot for fishing and bird watching, as well as boating (kayak tours are available at the lake), and yet you’re just a few miles from downtown Lincoln City. Camp just seconds from the beach at Beachside State Recreation Site between Waldport and Yachats. Stroll the beach, watch for whales or access miles of nearby hiking trails. This park has 40 tent sites.

South Coast
Located near the town of Coos Bay, Sunset Bay State Park is bordered by the soaring, rugged cliffs that make this part of the Coast so breathtaking. Choose from 65 tent sites and a trail network that connects to Shore Acres and Cape Arago state parks. Take in the wildflowers, epic ocean vistas and views of nearby lighthouses. Just offshore from Harris Beach State Park near Brookings, you can see Bird Island, a National Wildlife Refuge and breeding site for the tufted puffin. Watch for migrating whales, seals and seal lions, and pick from 60 tent sites.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. J.R. says…

    The Oregon coast offers NO free camping that is easily located. If it exists, I missed it. I’ve asked around with other R.V’s and camp hosts and they look at you funny. Campgrounds cost $21 for tent camping, $29 if you want hook-ups. Not cheap, not even low cost. Apparently, there is no more free camping on the coast, rather sad. If you don’t mind cities of R.V’s, paved ‘trails’, barking dogs, children and other noisy distractions, you might actually enjoy this. I didn’t and won’t be back. This isn’t camping, it’s living in an R.V. city.

    Written on April 28th, 2016 / Flag this Comment
  2. PJ says…

    The Devil’s Lake campground is actually just a couple blocks from downtown Lincoln City, but it doesn’t seem like that when you are there. There is free van camping in the casino in town also, on the lot farthest to the east.

    The North Coast is somewhat less crowded in the off peak seasons of course. Avoid the weekends when vast numbers of Portlanders go out there.

    Written on July 23rd, 2016 / Flag this Comment
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