Collins Beach – General Information
Open: Year-round, From Dawn To 10 PM
Type Of Beach: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Main Activities: Sunbathing, Picnicking, Dog Walking
Popularity: Moderate (Summer), Low (Winter)
Services: Two Outhouse-Style Toilets
Accommodations: Portland (Lodging & RV Parking), Warren (Camping)
Our next entry in our series on less popular beaches in the state of Oregon is Collins Beach, on Sauvie Island in the Columbia River. Across the river to the north is Washington State, making it one of the northernmost beaches in the Portland area.
It is one of only two clothing-optional beaches in the state of Oregon, the other being Rooster Rock State Park near Troutdale. Collins Beach was established as “clothing-optional” roughly 50 years ago and has kept that designation the entire time.
Despite the big red warning label that shows up when you look it up on Microsoft’s Bing search engine, it is not “permanently closed”. It’s not even temporarily closed.
What to Expect
The main reason that Collins Beach isn’t more popular is its location. First, it’s one of five beaches on Sauvie Island, meaning it has to compete with the other four. Second, a lot of people don’t know about Sauvie Island in the first place.
There are also people who aren’t comfortable taking themselves or their families to a nude beach, although this is less of an issue at this particular beach because the southern section is clothing-required.
The beach is just under two miles long and is entirely sand below the vegetation line. There isn’t a lot to do here other than relax in the sun but it’s definitely worth a trip, especially when combined with other places on the island.
Where is Collins Beach Located?
Collins Beach is one of three beaches on Sauvie Island, about half an hour from Portland. To get to the beach, take Highway 30 West to the Sauvie Island Bridge. Then, turn left and continue north for a little over two miles until you reach Reeder Road.
After turning right, follow Reeder Road for about 18 miles to the northeast side of the island. Just past Reeder Beach, the road turns into gravel and about half a mile later, you’ll arrive at Collins Beach.
You’ll want to stop by Reeder Beach RV Country Store, the Cracker Barrel Store just past the bridge, or one of a few other locations to buy a $10 daily parking permit. Non-permitted cars are frequently impounded and can cost as much as $750 to get back!
Getting to the Beach
There is no parking lot at Collins Beach, so you’ll want to park on the left-hand side of Reeder Road.
There are six footpaths to the beach from the right-hand side of the road. They are well-marked but not numbered, so you’ll have to count. The first entrance (i.e., the southernmost) goes to the strictly clothed areas, farthest away from the clothing-optional side.
The farther north you go, the more strictly nude your fellow beachgoers will tend to become. Path number six is primarily used by the LGBTQ community, most often (but not always) by gay men.
Things to Do on Collins Beach
The northern section of the beach is clothing-optional, which brings out a lot of nude sunbathers, particularly in the summer months. It has been described as having a bit of a party atmosphere at times. I’ve never been to the northern part personally.
If you or your family aren’t comfortable with this aspect of the beach, that’s perfectly fine. Clothing is required in the southern portion and the farther south you go, the less likely you are to see the people in the north.
There are no barriers to block the view between the clothed and non-clothed sections or from the houses of nearby residents, which has caused a few legal complaints over the years.
I’ve always been a fan of having a picnic on the beach and Collins Beach is a great spot for it, with food and non-alcoholic beverages permitted year-round. Alcohol is banned from May to September for safety purposes.
There are a few restaurants that offer take-out on the island in case you forgot to pack a lunch, including The Patio at the Pumpkin Patch (see more about The Pumpkin Patch below).
Many dog walkers bring their canine friends out for a walk around the beach, which is permitted as long as they are on a leash. Unfortunately, you’ll also have to watch out for unleashed dogs, as not everyone abides by that particular rule.
There was an infamous incident in the northern section a few years back in which a nude beachgoer was attacked by a dog, which the man then pinned to the beach and began punching the animal in order to stop the attack. Please keep your dog on a leash!
Where to Stay
Sauvie Island doesn’t have any hotels but there are literally hundreds of options in the Portland Metropolitan Area,
The Reeder Beach RV Park has full water, sewer, and power hookups for your vehicle, as well as a picnic table at each site. It also has the option for shaded sites or those that get full sun.
Tent campers will have to go a bit farther, as there are no campgrounds on Sauvie Island. However, the Bayport RV Park and Campground in Warren is about 30 miles away from the beach.
Other Activities in the Area
There are many farms on the island that sell fresh fruit, including Columbia Farms U-Pick and The Pumpkin Patch (featuring more than just pumpkins!), which allow you to buy fruit in pint-sized containers that you pick yourself right off the vine!
If you want the freshest possible fruit, this is an excellent choice. Both places, like most of the others, also sell prepackaged fruit from their farms that have been picked by others.
If you do decide to stop by The Pumpkin Patch, get in line early for some Elephant Ears!
If you’re don’t sure what elephant ears are, they’re fry bread covered in cinnamon sugar. If that doesn’t excite you then we probably can’t be friends.
Just be aware that the $5 snack draws absurd lines if you’re there during peak season.
When we last visited in August this is what we were faced with…
Still worth it though.
Fruit and Vegetable Stands
If you prefer fruit that is still very fresh but was picked by someone else, there are multiple fruit and vegetable stands on the island, including the Bella Organic Pumpkin Patch and Winery or Topaz Farms.
As part of the island’s theme of farming and growing things, there are a couple of plant nurseries here where you can buy some additions for your garden or an indoor plant for your kitchen.
The Corn Maize
Speaking of the Pumpkin Patch, in addition to fruits and vegetables for purchase, also has a large corn maze called “The Corn Maize”. I love the maze almost as much as I hate puns!
There are also great photography spots in the maze and, on a clear day, you can get amazing pictures of Mount Hood, as well as the maze itself.
Sauvie Island Wildlife Area
One of the best places for birdwatching, wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing, and hiking near Portland, the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area is over 12,000 acres and has some of the most incredible views of its wide variety of landscapes.
I recommend bringing binoculars to make the viewing easier. The Wapato Loop Trail is an easy hike that’s just a little over two miles and is pretty flat as it winds around Virginia Lake. The popular trail is open daily from 7 AM to 7 PM.
If you’re interested in sunbathing in the nude, the northern section of Collins Beach is one of only two opportunities to do so in the state. If that makes you uncomfortable, the southern part of the beach is great.
Whether you only stop by the beach for a short time or spend all day, visit the northern clothing-optional section, or stick to the southernmost points, you’ll have a great time at Collins Beach! Start planning your next Sauvie Island trip today!