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Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site - Complete Guide to This Central Oregon Coast Wild One

Published 01/08/2019 at 2:23 AM PDT - Updated 01/08/2019 at 3:23 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site - Complete Guide to the Central Oregon Coast Wonder

(Waldport, Oregon) – Just a hop, skip and a jump (or two) from the central Oregon coast hotspot of Seal Rock is another slightly hidden gem: Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site. Here, it's aptly named, as it's full of – you guessed it – lots of driftwood. A short driveway to a medium-sized parking lot is your gateway to five miles of hard-packed and soft sands in either direction, and not far from the civilized amenities and munchies of Waldport.

As you're zipping down Highway 101, just past Seal Rock (or if you're coming from the south, you will have gone through Waldport), you enter a slightly, twisty, windy stretch that's covered in thick green forest and shrubbery. It's that rugged, hardy and weather-beaten foliage too – the stuff that's always leaning away from the beach as each bush or tree has clearly been smacked by coastal winds their entire lifespans.


About a quarter mile south of the famed Triad Gallery building (the big, wild one with wavy architecture), and about that distance from the milepost 153 marker, sits the entrance to Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site. You emerge from a narrow forested stretch into a fairly full ocean view.

The park itself is some 28.63 acres of forest and beach. (More on the Waldport / Seal Rock area)

A small grassy area with a bench sits directly in front of a wooden fence, to keep people from rolling down the prickly bush-encrusted cliff. Before you sits a mix of hard sand and softer dunes, with sometimes driftwood as far as the eye can see.


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Take a small, slightly winding and sloping walkway down to the beach here, found on the northern side of the parking lot. The secondary entrance is via a longer hike down about an eighth of a mile through the thick foliage – really a small but pretty secluded hike, filled with the occasional critter darting around.

Once you hit these soft Oregon coast sands, what happens with all that driftwood varies. This depends on sand levels at Driftwood Beach State Rec Site. They may rise and fall with winter scouring and summer's building up, but they don't drop enough to find bedrock or lots of agates too often. What does happen here is that storms toss and mix up the large chunks every once in awhile: they giveth and they taketh away. Some years there's more driftwood; some there's less. Other times, it's simply the look of the season: high summer sands can cover up these ragged, wriggly chunks of wood more, making it look like there's less.


One interesting seasonal aspect of Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site is that high sand levels will cause the tide to be out much farther than during the rest of the year. The beach expands quite a bit. Which is not saying a lot, in some ways, as the beach manages to be fairly large to begin with.

If storm surges are coming near these globs of driftwood, then keep away from the beach. It takes very little ocean water to lift one and thus crush you.

Among the amenities at Driftwood State Recreation Site: RV parking spots and restrooms. A picnic table or two doesn't hurt the enjoyability factor as well, allowing you to scarf your grub by the beach but staying away from those drifting sands if the wind is too high. Eating and getting sand in your mouth is no fun. Also: ouch.

From the state park, it's two miles of sandy hiking up to Seal Rock – if you're doing the Oregon Coast Trail. Then you have to hop up onto the highway for a bit if you're hiking the trail northward. Going southward from Driftwood State Recreation Site, it's three miles to the end of the spit at Waldport. If you're on a real hike, you'll have to again pop back up to Highway 101 a ways before the end of the spit, through the Bayshore Community.


Other Fun Facts of Driftwood State Recreation Site

Look for Ray Ridge Dr. a few block south of the entrance to the park, on the highway. There's a curiosity here. 50 feet south of that street sign is a mysterious little patch of pavement that's a small walkway that ends abruptly – after only a few feet. There's nothing but bush and shrubbery there. Was something supposed to be built there once? A fun little oddity.

This central Oregon coast state park is on land initially owned by L. Presley Gill, purchased in 1968. The park was created just after 1986 when the land was gifted to Oregon State Parks. Lodgings in Waldport - Where to eat - Waldport, Seal Rock Maps and Virtual Tours



 


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