May 17, 2017

Board Ripping Coastal Sand Dunes

By Carolyn Price

Board sports haven’t always been my thing.

I’ve fallen onto ice from a snowboard. Landed hard on my tail from a skateboard. Been slammed into the beach from a surfboard.

And sandboarding? An easier fall, for sure. Tumbling into soft, warm Oregon Coast sand dunes is nothing short of a spa treatment. You could indulge for hours, luxuriating in a cozy bath of sun-baked white sand.

Last summer my family joined my cousins for a mini family reunion to try out sandboarding. We met up at Sand Master Park near Florence, a coastal town at the mouth of the Siuslaw River on the Pacific.

Just a stone’s throw from the 50-mile long coastal Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, owner Lon Beale and his crew at Sand Master Park have been teaching sandboarding since 2000.

Beale invited our group to his pro shop on U.S. Highway 101 and for a lesson on the nearby slopes. The shop stocks around 300 boards for sale, but standard-size sandboard rentals are reasonably priced at just $16 for a 24-hour period. Beale also rents sand sleds and boogie boards — offering lessons for all skill levels — and has dune buggy tours and RV and bus parking.

Our instructor for the day was Rolland Cox, an amateur national sandboard champion, who helped our motley group get started. Ranging in age from 14 to 69, the members of our group felt immediately at ease as Rolland helped us choose the right size boards and get our waiver forms signed.

Then we were off as we drove down a bumpy, sand-packed road to beautiful, wind-sculpted slopes.

At the bottom of the slope, we gladly kicked off our shoes and sandals, and tucked our feet into loose bindings on the board. We practiced falling — and getting back up — learned how to shift our weight to turn, and practiced bending our knees while staying back and low on the board. We watched Rolland demonstrate how to stop by pointing his board uphill.

Then it was time to hit the dunes. We tucked our boards under one arm and hoofed it barefoot to the top of the hill where, at first glance, the bunny hill looked dauntingly steep. What was there to lose? I went first — and fell first. Soon we were all riding, falling and laughing hysterically at each other’s mishaps.

Our hour with Rolland passed fast and after he left, we stayed on to ride some more and hang out in the warm sand, even sitting on our boards as we sledded down the slopes. Be sure to ask the staff at Sand Master Park for suggestions on dunes to ride in the area for all skill levels.

We have a reason to come back. Sand Master Park hosts several events each summer including Sand Sculpting Clinics on June 17 and Aug. 26, Sand Master Park Jam Pro/Am men’s and women’s competition on July 15, and the season finale Xwest Huck Fest jumping competition on Sept. 16, held at Three Rivers Casino in Florence.

Resources

Sand Master Park: www.sandmasterpark.com
Oregon Sand Dunes National Recreation Area, Reedsport, Oregon: www.fs.usda.gov

Central Coast Activities

View Sea Lions

Sea lions are abundant on the Oregon Coast. Tour the Sea Lions Caves at the country’s largest sea cave where Steller sea lions make their home.
www.sealioncaves.com

Another popular place to view these Stellers is Simpson Reef and Shell Island off Cape Arago near the Sea Lions Caves. Kids may enjoy the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, about an hour’s drive north of Florence.

Stroll the Boardwalk in Florence

Relax with ice cream or an iced tea as you stroll along the newly revamped Boardwalk at the Port of Siuslaw Marina in Florence. The Boardwalk serves as the town’s event center with an outdoor market and other special events during the summer. Photo ops abound with the beautiful marina as a picturesque backdrop. www.portofsiuslaw.com

Walk Oregon’s Beaches

This is the 50th anniversary of Oregon’s Beach Bill, signed into law in 1967, which safeguards Oregon’s beaches from development. Go smell that salty air; events go all summer long. www.visittheoregoncoast.com/oregon-beach-bill-50th-anniversary-celebration

Go Camping

What better way to wake up than to the sound of rolling ocean waves, sea-salt air and mewing seagulls? There are plenty of Oregon Parks and Recreation campgrounds, county, public and private campgrounds and RV resorts sprinkled along the coast.
www.oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=v.page&id=60

Umpqua Discovery Center Time Travel

Journey through time and learn about early Oregon explorers at the Umpqua Discovery Center on Reedsport’s riverfront where a totem pole in the front beckons visitors. Learn about early settlers and pioneers and their tidal culture and way of life, as well as the coastal weather where 70–90 inches of rain drench the Oregon Coast annually. Check out the Center’s summer music series, too. www.umpquadiscoverycenter.com

Carolyn Price is publisher of OutdoorsNW and although she loves all board sports, thinks sandboarding is the best way to go for the least amount of pain.