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Six Fun Facts about Oregon's State Park System

Six Fun Facts about Oregon's State Park System

Thu, May 9, 2024

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Six Fun Facts to Help Celebrate Oregon State Parks Day!

Oregon is home to some of the most exquisite natural beauty in the world. One of the best ways to experience our beautiful state is by visiting one of the many Oregon State Parks that make Oregon a truly special place. Our beloved state park system is a treasure trove of natural beauty, offering visitors remarkable landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and endless recreational opportunities. With Oregon State Parks Day coming up June 1, 2024, this is the perfect time to visit one of the beloved state parks located on Oregon’s Adventure Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston !

State Parks Day is an annual event that falls on the first Saturday in June. The Oregon State Legislature established the free day in 1997 to thank Oregonians for their support and focus public attention on Oregon’s state park system. This year, State Parks Day will be celebrated June 1, 2024, with free parking and events throughout the state. The weekend of June 1-2, 2024 is also a Free Fishing Weekend in Oregon, so you won’t need a license to fish, crab or clam anywhere in the state.

To mark its 102nd anniversary, here are six fun facts about Oregon’s State Park System that might help you appreciate them even more:

#1- The Oregon State Park system is one of the most popular state park systems in the country. If you have ever visited an Oregon State Park, it should come as no surprise that our state park system is among the most respected state park systems in the United States. In fact, it consistently ranks in the top 10 most visited state park systems in the nation. According to data released by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department , the Oregon State Parks welcomed 52,231,692 daytime visitors and 2,909,175 overnight campers statewide in 2023 (that’s A LOT)! State Parks on the Oregon Coast accounted for seven of the top 10 day-use parks and eight of the top 10 campgrounds last year.

#2- The Oregon State Park system is one of the largest in the United States. According to the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), there are 6,792 state park units in the United States. California currently has the most state parks in the country with 280 parks, followed closely by Oregon with a whopping 250+ parks, including camping at more than 50 parks, on more than 113,000 acres. From rugged coastline and towering forests to pristine lakes and cascading waterfalls, the system offers a diverse range of landscapes to explore and enjoy. “Oregon is so lucky to have an incredibly diverse park system,” says Stephanie Knowlton, Public Information Officer with Oregon State Parks in this recent Oregon Public Broadcasting article . “And, so we’re encouraging people to maybe look at some parks that don’t get as much visitation and see if they will find a new favorite out there.”

#3- Oregon’s State Park System has been around for more than a century. When one thinks of Oregon State Parks, many do not know that there is a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. It all began when Sarah Helmick, an Oregon Trail pioneer, marked her 100th birthday by donating a portion of her family homestead along the Luckiamute River in Polk County to preserve the land for future generations. This 5-acre donation became Oregon’s first official state park, and the Oregon State Park System was born. Since then, the system has grown to encompass more than 250 parks, historic sites, and recreation areas, preserving the state’s natural and cultural heritage for future generations.

#4- Oregon State Parks are renowned and widely respected for their environmental stewardship. From the very beginning, the Oregon State Park system has remained committed to environmental stewardship and sustainability, implementing initiatives to protect and preserve the state’s natural resources, and promoting eco-friendly practices among visitors and staff. Public Information Officer, Stephanie Knowlton says that parks staff and rangers work hard to keep parks clean and safe, and park users can help. “Visitors can also participate in making it a safe and clean space by respecting park rules and also making sure they leave no trace,” she said. “And, in addition to that, if they have an opportunity, even thanking park rangers for all that they do really goes a long way.”

#5- Visitors to Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston can experience multiple state parks in one day.
One of the best ways to experience the Oregon State Park System is to ride along the 8-mile Cape Arago Loop in Charleston, where you’ll find a trifecta of State Parks (Sunset Bay State Park, Shore Acres State Park, and Cape Arago State Park). This loop will take you to beaches, cliffs, forests and state parks, where you can take in the breathtaking vantage points and see the famous seals and sea lions on the Oregon Coast. The jewels of the Oregon State Park system include the following state parks:

  • Sunset Bay State Park : Sunset Bay State Park features beautiful sandy beaches protected by towering sea cliffs, perfect destinations for families, picnicking, swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and more. Sunset Bay also includes a full campground for RV, tent and yurt camping.

  • Shore Acres State Park : Shore Acres is an unexpected combination of beautiful natural and man-made features. Once the home of Lumber Baron, Louis Simpson, the park’s beautiful botanical gardens and dramatic ocean views are worth the trip!


  • Cape Arago State Park : Located at the end of Cape Arago Highway, you’ll find rugged cliffs and trails leading to a secluded cove, tidepools full of a variety of sea life, and a view of offshore colonies of seals and sea lions.

For Complete Details, Download our PDF Guide for the Cape Arago Beach Loop. Other points of interest on the Cape Arago Highway Loop include:

  • Bastendorff Beach : Never crowded and always beautiful, Bastendorff Beach is a must see for beach enthusiasts.


  • Cape Arago Lighthouse Viewpoint : There is no public access to this historic lighthouse, but there are great views from the viewpoint located on Cape Arago Loop and the Oregon Coast Trail.


  • Simpson Beach (accessible by the hiking trail at Shore Acres State Park): You’ll find crashing waves, migrating whales, and views of hundreds of seals and sea lions and other wildlife. Please do not bother the seal pups you may find on the beach. They are not lost, only waiting for mom to return.


  • Shell Island Interpretive Stop : Part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Shell Island, and the surrounding reefs, provide breeding and rest areas for sea birds and Marine mammals. The Interpretive Stop gives you a chance to view them all. Bring your binoculars for the best viewing!

#6 Oregon State Parks offer some of the best hiking and camping on the West Coast! With its robust system of hiking trails featuring lush forests, beautiful rivers, lakes, waterfalls, dramatic mountains, and one-of-a-kind ocean views, it’s no wonder that Oregon State Parks draw millions of hikers and campers to its trails each year. Visitors to the Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston region can enjoy an extensive network of hiking trails connecting Sunset Bay with nearby Shore Acres and Cape Arago State Parks. Hiking these trails will give you a chance to experience pristine coastal forests, seasonal wildflowers and spectacular ocean vistas from atop the rugged cliffs and headlands. From points along the trail, you’ll be treated to views of Gregory Point and the Cape Arago lighthouse.

From its scenic beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities to its rich history and cultural heritage, Oregon’s State Park System offers something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re embarking on a hiking adventure, planning a family camping trip, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat in nature, Oregon’s parks provide the perfect backdrop for unforgettable experiences and lifelong memories. So pack your bags, hit the trails, and start exploring all that our State Park System has to offer! Share photos and memories on social media with the hashtags #oregonstateparks. Learn more at .

Visit our featured adventures page and our trip ideas page to find more travel ideas and inspiration, and/or contact theCoos Bay – North Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau .

You can also follow Oregon’s Adventure Coast Facebook , @travelcoosbay on Instagram , and TikTok to find inspiration on the best spots to visit, eat, stay and explore any time of the year. Request your FREE visitor’s packet today !

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(541) 269-0215
50 Central Ave, Coos Bay, OR 97420

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