top of page

Visiting Cape Kiwanda Natural Area: A Complete Guide

Cape Kiwanda is a picturesque headland situated on the Pacific coast of Oregon. With its towering sand dunes, rugged cliffs, and stunning ocean views, Cape Kiwanda is a popular tourist destination that attracts visitors from around the world.

It is located in Pacific City, near Tillamook, a charming coastal town known for its outdoor recreational opportunities and natural beauty.

Cape Kiwanda Natural Area

Cape Kiwanda is an important landmark in Oregon's tourism industry, as it is one of the most visited places on the state's coastline. Visitors come to the area to explore its natural wonders, hike its scenic trails, and enjoy its numerous outdoor activities.

The headland is also home to a vibrant local culture, with a variety of restaurants, shops, and other attractions that cater to tourists and locals alike.

Cape Kiwanda: At a Glance

  • Location: The Oregon Coast

  • Nearest City: Tillamook

  • Why Visit? For hiking, surfing, beachcombing, and beautiful views.

  • Campsites Nearby: Woods County Campground, Webb County Campground, West Winds Campground (read more below).

Cape Kiwanda Cliffs
Some of the sandstone cliffs in the Cape Kiwanda Natural Area.

Location and Geography

Cape Kiwanda is located in Pacific City, Oregon, on the west coast of the United States. It is part of the Three Capes Scenic Loop, a popular tourist route that includes two other headlands: Cape Meares and Cape Lookout. The headland is situated about two hours west of Portland, the largest city in Oregon.

Directions to Cape Kiwanda

You can use the map below to get directions to Cape Kiwanda:

Cape Kiwanda is characterized by its rugged and scenic geography, which includes towering sand dunes, rugged cliffs, and stunning ocean views. The most notable feature of the headland is the "PACIFIC CITY" sandstone formation, which rises majestically from the beach and is a popular spot for hiking and photography.

Cape Kiwanda Sea Stack
Cape Kiwanda Natural Area

Sand Dunes

The sand dunes at Cape Kiwanda are some of the tallest and most impressive in Oregon, reaching heights of up to 300 feet (91 meters). These dunes are constantly shifting and changing, making the landscape a dynamic and ever-changing environment.

Cape Kiwanda Cliffs

The cliffs at Cape Kiwanda are also a notable feature of the landscape, with rugged and jagged rock formations that add to the area's dramatic scenery. These cliffs are popular with hikers and rock climbers, who come to explore the trails that wind along the cliffs and offer panoramic views of the coastline.

Landmarks in Cape Kiwanda

Other landmarks at Cape Kiwanda include the Nestucca River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean near the headland, and the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, which encompasses much of the headland and its surrounding coastline.

Cape Kiwanda Views
The beautiful Cape Kiwanda

Best Time to Visit Cape Kiwanda | Weather

The summer is usually considered the best time to visit Cape Kiwanda. It's certainly the most popular time to go. It's ideal for all outdoor activities like hiking, surfing, and beach climbing. However, it can also be the most crowded period.

In the fall, the weather is usually still pretty good, and you might be able to avoid the crowds.

Outdoor Activities

Cape Kiwanda offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the most popular activities to try:

Hiking Trails

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is home to several scenic hiking trails that wind through the headland's sand dunes and along its rugged coastline.

One of the most popular trails is the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area Trail, which offers stunning views of the coastline and sandstone cliffs. It's 1 mile long and should only take you about 30 minutes to complete!

Cape Kiwanda Waves
Huge waves crashing on the sandstone cliffs of Cape Kiwanda.

You might also like to check out the Sitka Sedge State Natural Area Loop, which is 3.5 miles long and should take you just over an hour to complete.

Another popular option is the Marsh, Bay, and River Trails Loop. It's close to 6 miles long and will likely take you just over 2 hours to finish. It is so beautiful, though, so it's definitely worth the effort!


Cape Kiwanda is a popular surfing spot with waves that attract surfers from all over the world. The area offers a variety of breaks for surfers of all skill levels, from beginner-friendly waves to more challenging breaks for experienced surfers.

The beach is also home to several surf shops that offer rentals and lessons for those who want to learn how to surf.

Cape Kiwanda Sunset
Sea stacks along the coastline in Cape Kiwanda.

Beachcombing and Tide Pools

The beach at Cape Kiwanda is a great place for beachcombing, with a variety of shells, rocks, and other treasures to discover.

Visitors can stroll along the shore and explore the tide pools, where they can see a variety of marine life, such as:

  • Starfish

  • Anemones

  • Crabs

Wildlife Watching

Cape Kiwanda is home to a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, harbor seals, and whales. Visitors can often spot these animals from the headland's scenic overlooks or take a guided wildlife tour to learn more about the area's unique ecosystems.

You can even check out the area via this Cape Kiwanda Oregon Webcam.

Campgrounds at Cape Kiwanda

Cape Kiwanda camping offers you a number of opportunities. Traverse the PNW recommends checking out these options:

Woods County Campground

One of the most popular campgrounds near Cape Kiwanda is Woods County Campground. It's located in Tillamook, and you can make reservations for RV and tent camping on the phone. It's open from May to September and closed during the winter season.

The sites are large and aren't far from the coast.

Cape Kiwanda Sandstone Cliffs
Cape Kiwanda Sandstone Cliffs

West Winds Campground

Located on Galloway Road, West Winds Campground is a 20-site campground that's located close to the dune area at Sand Lake. It's a popular option with visitors hoping to explore the dunes.

The campsites are first-come-first-serve only and are $25 a night.

Webb County Campground

Webb County Campground in Tillamook, Oregon, is an RV and tent camping area near Cape Kiwanda Natural Area. It offers camping year-round, so it is a great option if you're visiting during the winter. It's north of Pacific City and offers 37 basic campsites.

Sandbeach Campground

Sandbeach Campground in Siuslaw National Forest is another popular campsite near Cape Kiwanda. It offers 63 sites that provide year-round access to the coastal sand dunes.

It's a popular campsite for off-roaders and is part of Sand Lake Recreation Area.

Cape Kiwanda Hotels

Some of the top-rated hotels in the Cape Kiwanda area include:

  • Inn at Cape Kiwanda: a 3-star hotel with ocean views.

  • Surf & Sand Inn: an affordable older hotel in a Coast Guard station.

  • Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa: an oceanfront hotel that offers spa-like accommodations.

  • Hart's Camp Airstream Hotel & RV: a super unique place to stay with beach access that's also pet and kid-friendly.

Cape Kiwanda Rentals

If you're visiting and don't want to stay at a campground or in a hotel, you might be interested in these rentals:

  • Dory's Coastal Paradise: This is a beautiful rental property near Cape Kiwanda Natual Area that sleeps eight.

  • A Mermaid's Dream: Less than a mile from the heart of Cape Kiwanda Natural area, this rental is a great option for those who want to stay in Pacific City Beach.

  • Uncle Jim's Cabin: This is an a-frame wood cabin that offers you seclusion and a beautiful place to stay in the Pacific City area.


There are also cabins in the area that you can rent. There are some located at Cape Kiwanda RV Park and from Open Nest Vacation Rentals (the latter is going to be a more expensive option).

You Might Also Like


bottom of page