"Surf's Up!" Oswald West State Park by Jonathan_C

Oswald West State Park Travel Guide: 17 reviews and 32 photos

Who'd-a-thunk our annual beach camping vacation would end up converting us into rabid surfers? Normally we'd be camping at La Push on the Washington coast at this time of year but a forecast of rain sent us further south for a completely different kind of vacation.

We saw surfboards being carried from the parking lot when we first arrived. Setting up our camp we noticed surfing gear in most of the other campsites. By the time we got down to the beach, a few folks were already in the water while others were suiting up. As the tide started to flow and the surf picked up we saw dozens of surfers riding the waves, apparently having a ton of fun.

As we eventually found out, we had inadvertently stumbled upon one of the premier surfing spots on the Oregon coast. Short Sands beach is blessed by protective headlands, a sand bottom, an undeveloped setting and proximity to Portland. So when a surfing grandmother out for the day with her grandkids told us where to rent gear we couldn't say no. We happily traded in our inexpensive, low intesity, commune-with-nature trip for a pricier, more exhilarating, push-your-limits trip. And we're a changed family because of it.

Old Growth Forest

One of the most glorious things about Oswald West is that it preserves some of Oregon's last coastal old growth forest. Every trip from campsite to the beach takes you through a glorious canopy of trees that envelops you in green. Longer outings will take you all the way out to Cape Falcon or up the steep trail to summit 1600' Neahkahnie Mountain.

When the sun comes out after a misty morning, lighting up the very air, you will know that you are in a sacred place.

Short Sands Beach

I have not had the luxury of exploring all of Oregon's lovely beaches. But I cannot imagine how you could surpass Short Sands for sheer beauty. Graced by headlands on either side, backed by a forest with several streams and one sizable waterfall entering the sand, the beach here is as beautiful as you'll find.

We should all give thanks to old Oswald West, progressive governor of Oregon from 1911-1915 for saving this for us. It was his 1913 beach bill that preserved the entire 362 miles of Oregon shoreline for pubilc use. A 1967 amendment included the 'dry sand-area' in the protected zone pushing the boundary from the high tide line all the way back to the vegetation line.

Ahh the Pacific NW ... There are distinct advantages to living in an area with a long history of progressive politics.

  • Last visit to Oswald West State Park: Aug 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (14)

Comments (5)

  • Faiza-Ifrah's Profile Photo
    Sep 23, 2008 at 6:12 PM

    very informative page on a northwestern state park. we are yet to visit a coastal national / state / provincial park.

  • mirliya's Profile Photo
    Aug 2, 2008 at 5:41 AM

    We were there with mcntorg and the little girl 2 weeks ago:) I liked surfers's picture.

  • GuthrieColin's Profile Photo
    Jun 22, 2008 at 10:42 PM

    Thanks for the excellent info Jonathan. I think i'll have to check out Blumenthal Falls in my upcoming trip.

  • Jan 7, 2006 at 9:38 AM

    Wow: Surfing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oregon. Isn't that a tat bit too cold usually? Nice page and pics anyway!

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    Mar 29, 2005 at 12:20 PM

    Wave slave you are now, just don't go to Hawaii or you will be spoiled beyond belief since you probably thought the ice cream headache was simply a part of the experience ;-]


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