Sand Lake Recreation Area

• Sand Lake Recreation Area provides access to Sand Lake, the ocean, and sand dunes
• The area offers a plethora of outdoor activities including OHV riding

PhotographingHiking OregonCamping Oregonmushrooms OregonFishing

Sand Lake Recreation Area is a dune paradise, nestled between Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda, 10 miles north of Pacific City on the Three Capes Scenic Loop.

The 1,076-acre park offers access to Sand Lake, the Pacific Ocean, vast dunes, and a opportunity to enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities including OHV riding, hiking, camping, beachcombing, fishing, horse riding, and mushroom picking. The park is the only public access to Sand Lake.

In fact, Sand Lake is not a lake, but rather the shallow estuary of four small creeks including Sand Creek. The bay is popular among anglers and water sport enthusiasts. There are a boat ramp at Whalen Island County Park.

Sand Lake and adjacent wetlands, glasslands, and dune sedgelands are homes to a variety of wildlife including waterfowl, shorebirds, otter, deer, bear, and cougar. The estuary at Sand Creek provides natural habitats of adult and juvenile salmon.


Sand Lake hosts runs of anadromous fish including steelhead, sea-run cutthroat, spring and fall chinook. Fin-clipped steelhead season runs from June through March. The chinook salmon fishing is open from late May to December. Always check current fishing regulations and updated on ODFW's website.

Surf perch and flounder can be caught in spring or summer. Crabbing is the best at the eastern edge of the lake.

The fishing day-use area with a parking lot provides access to the mouth of Sand Lake and the ocean.

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Riding

The beach consists of clean and bright sand, but sometimes winter storms expose gravel beds. The recreation area is best known as a playground for off-highway vehicles. ATV owners can drive or ride at the dunes, nearby beach, and coastal lodgepole pine forest year-round.

If you don't own an ATV, you can get a rental at the park. The two areas closed for OHV are 2 miles of the sandy beach from the scout camp to the Cape Lookout and the beach sitting at the tip of Sand Lake's north spit.

The area to the south of the lake's mouth attracts a lot of seabirds and can be a fantastic bird-watching spot. Please, check and comply with all Forest Service rules and regulations while using OHVs.


From Sand Lake Recreation Area, you can walk north towards Cape Lookout. During low tides in summer you can cross the mouth of Sand Lake and walk along the beach toward to McPhillips Beach and Cape Kiwanda. When hiking the area, be extra vigilant and pay attention to sand vehicles around you.

A 1.5-mile loop trail within the boundary of Clay Myers State Natural Area provides opportunities for wildlife observation and photography.

Mushroom Picking

The Lodgepole pine forest at Sand Lake Recreation Area is a productive mushroom area. Here you can find lobsters, boletes, slippery jacks, and other species. Make sure to comply with foraging regulations.


Sand Lake features 3 campgrounds: Sandbeach Campground (available for reservations during summer), East Dunes, and West Winds (both first come - first served). There are 139 campsites total among all 3 campgrounds along with dispersed sand camping, restrooms, and day-use site. Fees are required for both campsites and the day-use area. Keep in mind that campgrounds fill up every weekend from May till September.

Note: Sand Lake sits within a Tsunami Inundation Zone and has a 3-minute siren test every the second Monday of each month.

Sand Lake Recreation Area
Sand Lake Recreation Area
Picnic Area
Sand Lake Recreation Area
Slippery Jack Mushroom

Sand Lake Recreation Area | General Description

Open: Year-round
Managed by: Oregon Forest Service

Amenities: Restrooms, picnic tables, fire rings, water
Activities: Beach combing, camping, fishing, mushroom hunting, ATV riding, & nature viewing

Day-use fees: Yes
Usage: Moderate
Accommodations: Three Campsites

Sand Lake Recreation Area is located:

  • 11 miles north of Pacific City
  • 90 miles southwest of Portland.

Adventures Nearby

Directions to Sand Lake Recreation Area

From Pacific City,

  • Take Cape Kiwanda Drive North for 1.9 miles
  • Keep straight to stay on McPhillips Drive
  • After 0.6 miles keep straight on Sandlake Road
  • Follow Sandlake Road for 5.4 miles
  • Turn left onto Galloway Road and follow it for 2.5 miles to your destination.

Reserve your campsite here

Get Google Map Directions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.