There are three (yes 3!) oceanfront day-use state parks in little Yachats, and no day-use fees.
(Oceanfront Trail) ♦ SMELT SANDS STATE RECREATION SITE is located at the north end of town. Turn west off Hwy 101 at the Smelt Sands sign onto a lane that leads to the park/parking lot. The park has a small pebble beach near the entrance and picnic tables and benches along the oceanside 804 Trail (accessible). At low tide, the north end of this trail, except in winter, connects by stairway to a 7-mile stretch of sandy beach that reaches all the way to the Alsea Bay at Waldport. The 804 Trail is above the tide line, so it may be safely walked at any time of day. However, do not venture onto the tabletop basalt rock except at low tide, and then only with caution. Sneaker waves do happen, and they are formidable. Do not turn your back on the ocean. While picnicking, watching beautiful waves, or hiking along the 804 Trail, watch for whale spouts – you may count several! Most of the year we have grey whales here, and many more during the spring and winter migrations.
(Tide Pools) ♦ YACHATS STATE RECREATION AREA is located at the west end of 2nd Street in downtown Yachats. This park offers a sometimes serene and sometimes wild view of the Yachats River as it meets the Pacific Ocean, with majestic Cape Perpetua as the backdrop. It’s a great place to park and watch waves and to spot gray whales spouting or seals playing in the surf. There is also a nice tide pool viewing platform here (check the tides), as well as a grassy lawn, resting benches, a historic marker, and picnic tables.
(Beach) ♦ YACHATS OCEAN ROAD STATE NATURAL SITE is located just south of downtown at the mouth of the Yachats River. Turn west off Hwy 101 onto Yachats Ocean Road at the south end of the Yachats River Bridge. There are parking spaces and picnic tables along this rim road and a wooden staircase down to the beach. At low tide, except in winter, you’ll find a wonderful sandy beach here, and often small tide pools. This is a great place to build a sandcastle, picnic, and with a little breeze – fly a kite. You may see heron fishing in the shallow section of the river, wild ducks floating under the bridge, eagles, pelicans, and a variety of other birds, seals, or an occasional river otter.