OREGON DUNES, OR
Dive into waves of seaside sand.
Surrounded by 500-foot-high drifts, you’ll think you’re crossing the Sahara, not the Pacific Northwest coast. But the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is the largest expanse of coastal dunes in North America (it’s 47 miles long by 2.5 miles wide)–and the inspiration for Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic, Dune. Hit the three-mile (one way) John Dellenback Trail to explore the Umpqua Dunes, the park’s biggest. Cross a bridge over Eel Creek and hang a left for a half-mile lope through lodgepoles to open dunes. Pockets of wind-stunted trees dot the slopes and provide shelter for gray fox and black-tailed deer. The sand tapers into the Pacific, where a soft beach invites a swim in the chilly water. Like the scenery? Stay over at Eel Creek Campground ($5/day). fs.fed.us/r6/siuslaw; (541) 750-7000
Head north on US 101 to Hall Lake, just west of Tugman State Park: This locals’ swimming hole is bordered by a dune that slides right into the water.
From Reedsport, take US 101 south for 10.5 miles to the trailhead, just beyond Eel Creek Campground.