Late fall along the Oregon coast is freezing cold, wet, windy, rainy and generally unpleasant. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be. Instead, a group of friends and I were greeted by bluebird skies and t-shirt temperatures in the afternoons when we arrived at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. It was the second consecutive Thanksgiving weekend we set out to explore just a fraction of the 30,000 acres of rolling sand that stretches nearly 40 miles from Florence to Coos Bay.
While the dune buggies, sandrails and other off-highway vehicles draw most of the visitor traffic to this portion of the state, fat bikes are popping up as a legitimate draw, especially in the off season. A few bike shops along the coast rent bikes and we saw a handful on the backs of cars headed up and down the coast. Word is getting out.
The condition of the sand can vary with wind, precipitation and season, but we had perhaps the best traction yet. (Well, perhaps not when airborne.) The new Maxxis Minion FBF and FBR 4.8 tires on my Salsa Mukluk certainly helped in the floatation department too. We also ventured out onto the beach where we found some Japanese tsunami debris, the half-eaten remains of a seal and a lot of driftwood to practice riding skinnies. This part of the coast doesn’t get many visitors so it has a much more wild feel than the touristy spots.
We’re already planning our next adventure so stay duned!
If you go
How to get there: The most popular starting point is near Lakeside, Oregon, about 3.5 hours from Portland or 2 hours from Eugene. See a map of the area.
Where to stay: We rented yurts at Tugman State Park. They sleep three to five people, have electricity and heaters and some are pet-friendly.
Where to ride: I recommend starting on the John Dellenbeck Dunes Trail, departing from the Eel Creek Campground, which is basically across the street from Tugman State Park.
Click on the magnifying glass to see full-size photos.