Be safe exploring the beach

Waves crashing on the beach. Large rock extending into the ocean.

Oregon’s beautiful 362-mile coastline is visited by tens of thousands of people each year. The state’s famous 1967 “Beach Bill” guarantees public access to beaches along the entire coast.

A day at the coast is long-running Oregon tradition but visitors should approach their coast trip just like they would any other outdoor recreation activity: safety first!

Watch out for sneaker waves
Always keep one eye on the ocean so you won’t be caught off guard if a bigger wave surges up the beach. These “sneaker waves” are unpredictable, powerful and can easily knock adults off their feet.

Hike like a pro
Be careful on rocks and near cliffs. Rocks can be slippery and cliffs can be unstable due to erosion. Stay on marked trails and don’t climb over fences or other barriers. Trails are carefully planned by park rangers and barriers are there to keep you safe.

Watch for falling rocks
Avoid walking along the base of cliffs or eroding bluffs. Chunks of cliff or rocks can fall at any time; areas with overhangs and caves are especially dangerous. Do not dig in cliffs or bluffs.

Maintain a safe campfire
Beach campfires may be started on open sand, away from driftwood or vegetation. Check online for seasonal fire restrictions. Use water to extinguish your fire, not sand. Pour water around the base of the fire pit, not directly on hot coals.

Avoid logs on the beach
Stay away from logs on the beach or in the surf. The logs absorb water like sponges, increasing their weight by up to several tons. The ocean is strong enough to pick up even the heaviest log and roll it over you.

Know the tides
Know when the tide is coming in, especially when exploring tidepools or secluded beaches. Incoming tides can quickly leave you stranded away from shore. Be extra careful during extreme high or low tides and storms. 

Swim smart: rip currents
Rip currents are fast-moving water channels that can carry even the strongest swimmers away from shore. If you’re ever caught in one, stay calm. A rip current is fast but narrow; swim parallel to the shore to escape it, then swim back to land at an angle. NOAA rip currents

 

Additional Resources

 

Some parks are open for day-use and camping, with reduced services. Check the Park Status Map and FAQ for details. Campfire restrictions may be in place.