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How to find free boondocking Central Oregon CoastWhile I loved the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway quest drive, so far the Central Oregon Pacific Coast Highway road trip has been my favorite in Oregon that travels between Pacific City to Bandon. It's just different.

The topography is changing where there are more dunes, cliffs, and numerous places to boondock off of the highway with a prime ocean view.

Oh, and there are whales everywhere! I'm not joking. I've been whale watching before in the San Juan Islands in Washington and saw whales up close, but not in the numbers that I saw in Central Oregon.

Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Searching for Boondocking Oceanside

After leaving Pacific City, I stopped along the beaches to soak up some sun rays every so often along the coast and walk the beaches. The weather was fantastic, around the mid-70s with a strong breeze.

I was meeting up with Heather and Nick again from Vicaribus, and we were trying to decide on a place to stop and overnight. We were both in Lincoln City doing a little shopping before continuing down the coast, but since I finished up early, I decided to keep going and scout out an overnight camping spot.

IOverlander app has quite a few great places for finding free spots to park or boondock – so I was using that to find some places, but since we knew we could park off of the ocean at an overlook, as long as it didn't have a sign stating “no overnight parking” than we could stay there.

The app showed that you could stay at Boiler Bay overlook; however, when I arrived it's part of the state park system is now only for day use. It would have been an amazing spot. Look at the scenery around that area.

Boiler Bay Oregon Ocean

Someone said they had spotted a whale, but I stayed there for about 30 minutes and never saw any.

Boiler Bay Oregon Sunset

Boiler Bay Oregon

Boiler Bay Oregon3

Time to move on and keep searching.

Depoe Bay, Oregon Boondocking

I ended up finding a beautiful spot a little off the highway on this small road just off of Highway 101 that overlooked the ocean. It was just past Depoe Bay. Now, it could be subjective on whether this was allowed or not. Here's why.

When I first pulled in, I saw no signs whatsoever for no overnight parking. I swear I looked. So texted I Heather and Nick and told them of the spot and they proceeded to meet me there. However, as soon as they came in, they saw a sign further down that small road stating no overnighting. We weren't sure if that was for past that sign, because there were no signs on the way into that overlook nor inside the overlook.

So we collectively decided to risk it and stay. The worst that could happen is we get a knock on the door at night from a state trooper. That said, none of us like the idea of illegally parking and like to follow the rules and laws. This was just a bit of a gray area and it was getting late.

They pulled their converted skoolie bus into the spot below, and I parked in front of them for the night.

Ocean Boondocking Depoe Bay

Look at this sunset! I was in awe. I had the van door wide open with the wind whipping around and letting that ocean breeze in.

Depoe Bay Sunset 1

What was truly amazing were the whales. I counted at least three whales at one time. Mostly I caught their tail and sometimes I could see their body as they blew through their blowhole and shot seawater up into the air. It was so amazing. I stood out there for at least two hours watching them.

Depoe Bay Whales

It was great to chat with Heather and Nick in our respective vehicles while Heather popped us some fresh popcorn on her gas stove.

Depoe Bay Sunset

Depoe Bay Sunset 2

When it was finally time to go to sleep, the highway noise had quieted down a bit, and all you could hear was the wind blowing up against the RV (it was strong this night as well) and the ocean crashing against the rocks below.

Depoe Bay Sunset Boondocking

Since this was my first night sleeping on a pull-out and because I was a little concerned we might get a knock on the door, I kept waking up to vehicles driving over to the other side of the overlook. I guess they thought it was okay to park there too. I could barely see anything though outside because it was so dark.

I, however, am in love. What a beautiful sight to fall asleep to and then to wake up to in the morning. It was so peaceful, and a truly beautiful moment I'll never forget.

The Internet wasn't so great in that location, and I desperately needed to upload a video to YouTube, so I ended up leaving earlier that morning to find a great spot to work for the day. I typically am looking for something in nature, so when I take breaks, I can get out and walk in around the trees, grass, and beaches.

Yaquina Lighthouse & Whale Watching

I didn't have to drive long before I spotted a lighthouse just north of Newport, so I pulled in to see how good the cell signal was for that area. It turned out to have a great cell signal and was on top of a cliff looking over onto the ocean, rock formations, tidepools, and WHALES!

The Yaquina lighthouse is listed on BLM so all you need is an America the Beautiful annual pass (the National Park pass) to get in for free or it's $7 per day at the time of this posting.

Yaquina Lighthouse 2

I was so distracted by the beauty and the whales that it was an hour later before I started working and loading the YouTube video.

Yaquina Lighthouse Cliffs

Yaquina Lighthouse Tidepools

Just off of this area, were whales swimming in between the rocks. I presume they were fishing for food as you would see them dive under and also blow out through their blowhole.

Yaquina Lighthouse Tidepools2

These creatures are so beautiful to watch. Even though you aren't that close to them, it's still mesmerizing! If you watch my video on it, I actually catch them in action many times.

Yaquina Lighthouse Tidepools3

Yaquina Lighthouse

Later in the afternoon when I was wrapping up my work, I needed to stop for groceries, so I scouted out the local Fred Meyer grocery store. If you've never been to a Fred Meyer, it's a cross between a grocery store and a Target with great prices on clothes, especially the name brand stuff, kitchen, housewares, and more. Plus they have a huge section for natural foods and organics which I love.

This Fred Meyer was crazy big. It was actually two stories tall with an elevator to the second floor. I had to actually shoot some small video footage of it for Nick since he hadn't been to a Fred Meyer yet.

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

It was time to scout out another spot for the night. Nick and Heather were doing their own sightseeing, and we thought we would find a place at Cape Perpetua for the night in an overlook. They had already gone ahead and were looking for a place to stay while I finished grocery shopping.

While there were some incredible overlooks to stay at, the cell signal was nonexistent on both Verizon and AT&T, and we both needed to work. I, however, didn't realize they had turned around and gone back to Yachats, the town before Cape Perpetua, until after I traveled all the way to Florence where the next cell signal came through on my phone. Well just before Florence.

Boondocking in Florence, Oregon

So I ended up in Florence on my own and found a couple of pull-offs that were beautiful and overlooked the dunes, but as you can see below, the pull-off is on a steep incline, and I was not level by a longshot! Usually, I don't mind a little bit of unlevel, but this was pretty bad on the inside of the van.

Hymer Aktiv Florence Oregon

Florence Oregon Sunset

Florence Oregon Dunes

So, therefore, I continued and found this boondocking spot off of the Siuslaw River that is just on the other side of the dune jetty and the ocean. If the dunes weren't so high, I should have been able to see the ocean.

Florence Oregon Boondocking on River 2

The spot was actually really beautiful off of the river where people fished, and kayakers paddled along the river. It's directly off of a small road so there was some road noise but it got quieter as the night went on.

Florence Oregon Boondocking on River 3

Florence Oregon Fog

Florence Oregon River Boondocking Dunes2

Florence Oregon River Boondocking Dunes

Florence Oregon River Boondocking Dunes 3

I ended up staying off of the river for several days collectively; however Lily had an emergency.

Lily's Vet Emergency

That night I saw Lily holding her tail weird and by weird I mean if it touched anything she would jump. I had seen her jumping like this when we were on the beach a couple of times in the last several days and had inspected her legs and body to make sure she was okay and didn't see anything; however, I didn't look at her tail tip.

Lily at Depoe Bay

On closer inspection, her tail tip looks raw. It was this black and reddish color with a small wound at the end. I have no idea how this happened to her, but she was in severe pain. I tried putting a pain reliever/antiseptic ointment on her, but she freaked out.

So after some searching for a vet in Florence, I thought it best to drive over to Eugene, Oregon inland to get her looked at first thing in the morning. I found a VCA Hospital and showed up when they opened. Even though they didn't accept walk-ins at this location, they still helped me out and looked her over.

We weren't sure if it was an allergy related issue or what was going on, but the vet seemed to think it might heal itself with an antifungal medication, some Omega fatty acid treatments, and another allergy shot in case it was related to allergy.

They ended up having to shave her tail to get a better look, and she completely freaked out in pain. It hurts my heart to see her go through this issue. So we'll come back in several more weeks after we finish the Oregon coastline and do a follow-up visit with the doctor to make sure she's improving.

Bullards Beach State Park Camping

After leaving the vet and heading back to Florence for a couple of more days, we all decided to head to Bullard's Beach State Park for a couple of days to recharge, take some much needed hot showers and relax.

This was actually the first time I had paid for a camping spot since May when I was at the Mesa Verde campground in Colorado. It was pretty relaxing, quiet and there were great trails for walking.

The showers, on the other hand, were – meh – not so great. First, I'm short at 5'3, or 5'2 depending on the day you measure me, and I had to bend down to get my head under the shower nozzle. Also, it was an auto shut off push button shower, and the water was sometimes hot and sometimes barely hot. It wasn't the greatest shower experience, but at least I was clean and felt refreshed.

Face Rock State Scenic View Point

Not too much further down from the state park is Face Rock State scenic viewpoint in Bandon, Oregon – which is also the end of the Central Oregon Pacific Coast Highway quest.

What a treat! Heather was our tour guide on this day as she had researched all the places to go along the way. If you look at the picture below you'll see the massive rock in the front, but just to the right you'll see another rock structure and on the right side of that rock is a profile of a face. Do you see it?

Face Rock State Park2

We were treated with this magnificent labyrinth that a local artist had created on the beach that morning. It made the day even more spectacular!

Face Rock State Park Art

Face Rock State Park Art2

Face Rock State Park8

Face Rock State Park Tide Pools

Face Rock State Park

Oregon Coast

I absolutely loved my road trip down the Central Oregon Coast, and only one more section, the Southern Oregon Coast road trip that will take place just after this one ends in Bandon, Oregon.

Have you traveled to the Oregon Coast? Did you do any boondocking for free off of the ocean?

Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Road Trip Report & Map

Central Oregon Coast Road Trip

Take a look at all of the places I've been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 170

Average Miles per Gallon: 14.6

Road Conditions: Roads were clear – no issue.

Weather Conditions: Pretty chilly at night with quite a bit of wind off of the ocean, but during the day it was in the 70's. My kind of weather.

Time of Year Visited: Early September

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Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Overlook off of highway 101 Depoe Bay, Oregon / $0
  • Boondocking off of Siuslaw River in Florence, Oregon / $0
  • Camping World in Eugene, Oregon (during Lily's emergency) / $0
  • Walmart – Coos Bay, Oregon / $0
  • Bullards Beach State Park in Bandon, Oregon / $31 per night for 2 nights

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Yaquina Lighthouse  / $0 with America the Beautiful annual pass
  • Pacific City, Oregon beaches
  • Lincoln City, Oregon beaches
  • Depoe Bay, Oregon
  • Newport, Oregon
  • Florence, Oregon
  • Bandon, Oregon

RV Accessibility:

  • You can be in any RV at most of these locations and in all the overlooks. The only exception would be the river boondocking possibly. Vicaribus parked there without any issues; however it is close to the road so I would be concerned about an RV being too wide and parking there.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  Decent cell signal in most areas except Cape Perpetua where there wasn't a cell signal at all. AT&T was stronger than Verizon and you'll definitely need a cell booster, like the weBoost that I use, to get a better signal if you'll be working or watching movies.

Park Pass:  America the Beautiful annual pass

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Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

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4 Comments

  1. Gwen Mazer

    You are rockin the new hat.

    Reply
  2. Pam

    I hope your baby girl is ok. Doggies are the best. Great photos and the hat looks great, totally fun.

    Reply
    • Amber Baldwin

      Pam – thank you! Lily is doing much better and seems to be healing nicely. 🙂

      Reply

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