The Sand Lake Recreation Area is located along Oregon’s North Coast, 15 miles southwest of Tillamook, OR between Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda. It covers 1,076 acres of open sand dunes, surrounded by forests and adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. The Sand Lake Recreation Area is popular with OHV riders but offers a variety of recreational opportunities.
The Sand Lake Estuary, adjacent to the Sand Lake Recreation Area, provides opportunities for fishing, swimming, crabbing, kayaking, hiking and wildlife viewing. The near-natural state of this 900 acre estuary provides a home to many species of water fowl and access is available at Fisherman’s Day Use area near the Sandbeach OHV Campground.
The sand dunes begin at the estuary and extend to the northeast about 3.5 miles. The dunes are surrounded on three sides by a coastal mixed-conifer forest and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The dunes are an example of an extended parabolic dune system. Dune vegetation is mostly European beach grass and shore pine. Find out more about coastal dunes from our Geology of Dunes page.
The climate at Sand Lake has strong marine influences. Summers are cool and winters are moderate. Westerly winds predominate – from the northwest during the summer and from the southwest in the winter. These winds from the ocean bring heavy rainfall in the winter and fog in the summer.
Off Highway Vehicle Recreation
The Sand Lake Recreation Area is popular with Off Highway Vehicle enthusiasts. It offers riding on open sand dunes with access from campgrounds/day use areas that are open year round. Sand Lake has three developed campgrounds, a dispersed camping area, and a day use staging area that allow access the sand dunes and beach. A fee is required at all campgrounds, the day use lot and the open sand. Campgrounds fill up every weekend May through September.
Know the regulations before you arrive! The State of Oregon establishes and administers OHV permits and regulations. Regulations are strictly enforced by the Tillamook County Sheriff and the U.S. Forest Service.