Although part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, miles of sand dunes south of Florence and north of Winchester Bay are reserved for nature enthusiasts (and the lovely nature we are observing) rather than motorized traffic. Oregon Dunes Overlook allows you to enjoy a tree-line vantage of the sandy slopes, wetlands, and ocean sans OHV traffic and engine noise. You can choose your “level” from three separate viewing decks, or visit them all.

Lower viewing deck

50 Steps Wheels:

The lower viewing deck is the easiest to access and provides covered shelter for dune sights. A weathered sign describes dune formation.

Walk Details for Lower viewing deck
Terrain: Sidewalk and decking. Gradual decline to deck.
Seating: No
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms: Yes, 50 steps from the lower viewing deck.
Directions: From the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area sign on 101, follow Oregon Dunes Overlook Drive to the parking lot, about 3/10 of a mile. The first angle parking spaces you reach are closest to this deck. Head down the sidewalk (north) to the deck.

Middle viewing deck

50 Steps Wheels:

The only viewing deck that includes a bench, you can absorb the spacious restfulness of the area while taking a seated break. This is a great spot for photos of the rolling dunes and the ocean beyond.

Walk Details for Middle viewing deck
Terrain: Sidewalk and decking, gradual incline to deck.
Seating: One bench with back
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms: Yes, 50 steps on sidewalk from the lower viewing deck.
Directions: From the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area sign on 101, follow Oregon Dunes Overlook Drive to the parking lot, about 3/10 of a mile. The angle parking spaces at the end of the first row on your right are closest to this deck. Head up the sidewalk (south) to the deck.

Upper viewing deck

200 Steps Wheels:

The highest of the three vantages, the upper viewing deck is the launch pad for a mile-long walk to the beach or a multi-mile loop walk. You can reach it from the middle viewing deck via two flights of 15 stairs each, or utilizing the longer approach via the ramp. The step count is from the indicated parking area, utilizing the ramp. Unfortunately, there is no bench to allow seated partaking of the sandscape.

Walk Details for Upper viewing deck
Terrain: Sidewalk and decking. Descent on ramp between upper and middle deck was covered with moss and pine needles during my visit. Cane was slipping on these (dicey!). There are handrails along the decked path so you can take it slow and utilize these.
Seating: No
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms: Yes, 50 steps on sidewalk from the lower viewing deck.
Directions: Park as indicated and walk to the middle viewing deck. You can continue to the upper deck using the stairs or the ramp.