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Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

Cape Cod
Level Contributor
18 posts
5 reviews
Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

My husband and I will have part of one day and one overnight (and a little of the morning) at the dunes. I'm a photographer and wonder if anyone can give me advice as to the best part of the dunes to visit, given the brevity of our stay. I'd also appreciate a recommendation for a room in the area. Lastly, is the Sea Lion Cave worth a visit? Thank you!

Green Valley...
Level Contributor
18,030 posts
65 reviews
1. Re: Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

If you provide your itinerary, advice would be easier, especially given your limited time.

Sea Lion Caves: No.

Sea Lions: Newport, old town, the docks.

Sea Lions: Just north of the caves, a viewpoint, look straight down to the rocks below - and the lighthouse to the north for a lovely picture.

Eugene, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Eugene, Springfield
Level Contributor
9,996 posts
200 reviews
2. Re: Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

With the dunes stretching for more than 60 miles, I'm not sure there is a "best part to visit," especially photographically. If you take a photo of 200-300 ft dunes reaching out to the horizon, it might look like the Sahara (as that desert appears in old movies), but you will lose all proportionality. Having a dune buggy coming off such a dune cliff (a deadly likelihood) would give you the element of size comparison.

Also, you might want a photo showing the dunes surrounding some lakes and tree islands (where bears happen to roam, by the way). Or you might want the ocean and surf in the photo. Or the lagoon at Honeyman State Park.

Do you want sunrise on the dunes...or sunset?

And, in such a limited time for your visit, you are rolling the dice that you won't get fog, rain or windblown sand in your face (and lens).

You say you're a photographer, but don't say whether you're a professional. If you're a pro, you can appreciate the time, research and patience it takes to get that "just right" shot. If you're just looking for a nice photo to document your visit and help you remember your trip to the dunes, you can probably get it easily. If you're looking for something grander, you probably will need to spend more time for exploration and experimentation at various times of the day (avoiding when the sun is directly overhead, so you can get your shadows and depth perceptions).

You might want to hire one of the dune buggy operators along the coast to take you out and give you a half-day tour. That would be costly, but would save you getting lost in the dunes.

I think the dunes are fantastic and have gone on numerous hikes there...and taken guests on the big dune buggy ride...but have never wandered out into them alone. Indeed, taking the ride in the big buggy might suffice for your photo taking, as well. You'll see big dunes and all the rest I described. You just won't be able to go at your own pace and wherever your wanderlust wants to take you. See...

http://www.sanddunesfrontier.com/

http://www.sandland.com/

Cape Cod
Level Contributor
18 posts
5 reviews
3. Re: Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

Many thanks. Your remarks are very helpful. We'll be in the dunes area during the first week in April.

Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
4,856 posts
4. Re: Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

I agree with oregonpoppa; your best bet for photographing the dunes might be to hire a driver. Most of the areas you could get to on your own would probably have evidence of other people around, which I'm guessing is not what you're looking for.

I also agree with voyaging. No to Sea Lion Caves, except to photograph Haceta Head Lighthouse from the viewpoint just to the north. Bring a telephoto for best results.

For that room, consider the Overleaf Lodge in Yachats. It's about 30 miles north of the north end of the dunes, but has photography opportunities of its own: http://overleaflodge.com/ .

Cape Cod
Level Contributor
18 posts
5 reviews
5. Re: Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

Thank you! I am not a working professional photographer, but have a stronger interest than merely documenting the experience. Since we have so little time in the area, I was looking for advice as to where to be, not wanting to spend more than the necessary time driving around. I've planned with the goal of being at the dunes in both late afternoon and early morning and recognize, with so little time, that we could encounter bad weather conditions (however, some 'bad' weather conditions - eg., light fog - might create interest...). Your comments are helpful, thank you again.

Cape Cod
Level Contributor
18 posts
5 reviews
6. Re: Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

Many thanks. Your remarks are very helpful and the accomodation option looks very good.

Eugene, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Eugene, Springfield
Level Contributor
9,996 posts
200 reviews
7. Re: Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

For the most part, you can't just "drive around" in the dunes. There are a limited number of access points off of the coast highway...and from there you have to hike or dune buggy into the dunes. April is one of those months when you could catch crystal clear weather or the other kind. The problem with even "light" fog is that (1) your color definitions will be so muted and your depth of field so limited that you won't be able to show much more than piles of sand; and (2) it's possible in even light fog to lose your bearings and not know which direction is the highway and which is the ocean, since sound will seem to come from all directions.

If you want to hike in, I suggest you get William L. Sullivan's "100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregone Coast & Coast Range."

http://www.oregonhiking.com/

Sullivan describes several dunes hikes, ranging from 1.8 to 4.8 miles. However, it's important to note that some hikes, like the loop at Tahkenitch Dunes, undergo some changes each winter, as erosion and heavy stream runoff change the landscape. Some areas of the dunes along the shoreline will also be off limits in April during the snowy plover nesting season.

Oregon Coast
Destination Expert
for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
Level Contributor
44,636 posts
1,112 reviews
8. Re: Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

Sea Lion Caves - well, it depends upon what you want to get out of your visit? If you want to photograph the critters in their natural habitat, then yes it may be worth it. However, be sure to contact the office ahead of time as I am not sure if they allow tripods.

You can get shots over the cliff edge as voyaging suggests, but it will be at an exteme angle from above, and you'll need at least a 300 mm lens to get good clear close ups.

If you have time to go to Newport, you can get within about 15' of the sea lions on the dock there.

Dunes - as stated above, the dunes stretch for many miles. I think the idea of a driver is excellent. Winchester Bay has the biggest dunes, but also the most private dune buggy action. The north side of Coos Bay has some easily accessible dunes via car and on foot. Between Florence and Dunes City there are dunes with lake and trees.

What type and price range of accommodation are you looking for?

Lastly, I think we are all somewhat curious as to your overall trip - particularly since this area is in the middle of the coast? Are you driving up or down the coast and taking an extra day here? Are you planning on finding good photo points in other coastal locations?

Oregon Coast
Destination Expert
for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
Level Contributor
44,636 posts
1,112 reviews
9. Re: Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

Oh forgot to add, if you want a photo of a lighthouse looking through the dunes, you can drive out to the Triangle Oyster farm west of Winchester Bay. Park and walk a bit, then you can shoot back toward the Umpqua River lighthouse. The lighthouse itself has really cool red and white lights on it at night, which reflect off the surrounding hillsides.

Cape Cod
Level Contributor
18 posts
5 reviews
10. Re: Oregon Dunes Recreation National Park

There's a lot to think about, thanks again.

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