Nelscott Beach, Oregon – Lesser Known Beach Guide Series

Nelscott Beach – General Information

Open: Year-round, 6 AM to 9 PM
Type Of Beach: City-managed
Approach: Easy
Main Activities: Big Wave Surfing, Sunbathing, Beachcombing
Popularity: Moderate
Services: Restrooms
Accommodations: Lincoln City (Lodging & RV Parks, Otis (Camping)

Up next in our series of lesser-known beaches in Oregon is Nelscott Beach in Lincoln City, one of the few on this list that is actually located in a town.

Lincoln City boasts seven miles of sand, around three of which can be found on Nelscott Beach. At just under 10,000 people, it is one of the most populous cities on the Oregon Coast.

Nelscott Beach is named for the former city of Nelscott, which merged with four other communities to become Lincoln Beach. It is a combination of the surnames of its founders: Charles P. Nelson and Dr. W. G. Scott.

What to Expect

The beach is less popular than you’d expect for being a three-mile-long beach in the downtown area of a populous coastal city.

The main reason for this is the limited parking available. Between the northern and southern lots, there are less than 20 parking spaces. The other beaches have more parking, especially Taft Beach and Oceanlake Beach.

Where is Nelscott Beach Located?

This is one of the easiest beaches to get to on the coast because it is located right in the heart of Lincoln City.

The north parking lot can be found at Southwest 11th Drive and Canyon Drive Park. It has space for about ten vehicles and is so small, you might not even realize the parking lot belongs to the beach if you didn’t already know.

The southern parking lots on Southwest 33rd and 35th are even smaller, with about three or four spaces each.

Getting to the Beach

Once you’ve reached one of the three parking lots, it’s a short walk of just a few feet. All three are directly connected to the beach.

If all three parking lots are filled, you may be able to park nearby and walk over, especially if you’re staying at one of the hotels that overlook the beach, like the Sandcastle Beachfront Motel on SW Anchor Street, near the southern entrance.

The final option is to park at the D River Recreation Site and walk down less than half of a mile to the beach.

Things to Do on Nelscott Beach

Big Wave Surfing

There are many places to hit the waves on the Oregon Coast but Nelscott Reef on the northern side of the beach is the only place that boasts waves over 20 feet high, which is the minimum to qualify as a big wave surfing location.

Whether you surf yourself or just want to watch others, Nelscott Reef is definitely the place to be!

Finders Keepers Program

A Lincoln City classic that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, the Finders Keepers Program involves the placing of glass floats on the beach, like the kind that often wash up on the shores of the Pacific from old Japanese whaling vessels.

It was traditionally held on Memorial Day for many years but has recently expanded to be a year-round project. Finders are allowed to keep the orb and can check the tag on the project’s website to find out more about the artist who created that particular orb.

Beach Hiking

Since Nelscott Beach is located right in town, there aren’t a lot of options for traditional hiking trails. However, the beach is three miles long and could be combined with sidewalks or other beaches for an even longer hike.

With its relative lack of popularity, it’s also a great place if you’d like to jog on the beach, which provides a much tougher workout and has cardiovascular benefits. Muhammed Ali famously preferred to run on the beach.

Rockhounding and Beachcombing

There are several varieties of agates, fossils, and other quality minerals to be found here, although it’ll be easier to find more rare pieces during the king tides in the winter. Still, not a bad spot for the summer, either.

You’re also likely to encounter less competition while beachcombing or rockhounding here since there is a nearby location named Agate Beach. It got that name…well, exactly the way you think it did.

Where to Stay

As one of the few beaches in this series located in an actual city, finding lodging will be quite easy, with dozens of hotels, motels, Airbnbs, and more located close by. Several hotels can be found right next to the beach if you don’t mind paying a little more.

Devil’s Lake Campground Station

There are a few RV parks in the city, including Devils Lake and Logan Road, on Devils Lake Road and Logan Road, respectively, as you may have guessed. There are many more outside the city as well, as RV travel is extremely popular on the coast.

Devil’s Lake Campground

For camping, there is a KOA (Kampgrounds of America) just outside of town on the other side of Devils Lake that offers RV parking, tent sites, and several rental cabins. It should be noted that the Deluxe Cabin is the only one with its own bathroom.

Other Activities in the Area

D River State Recreation Site

Immediately north of the beach is the D River State Recreation Site, home to the river of the same name that is often referred to as the shortest river in the world. I think there are about 50 places in the world that claim that title but still, it’s worth a visit.

Running only about 120 feet between Devils Lake and the Pacific Ocean, it’s a beautiful little area. As a bonus, you can tell your friends you’ve been to the world’s shortest river!

Lincoln City Cultural Center

The Lincoln City Cultural Center features exhibits from local and regional artists, as well as concerts and other events. It’s a great place to enjoy or even purchase some unique pieces of art while you’re in town.

Kayak Tours

Six miles from Lincoln City in a town called Otis (where the KOA campground is located), the Salmon River Wooden Kayak Company offers guided tours of the Salmon River in beautiful, handcrafted wooden kayaks.

In addition to beautiful scenery and sights pointed out by knowledgeable local guides, there are also many opportunities to view the local wildlife, including eagles, seals, herons, and many others.

Roads End State Recreation Area

Another more popular beach in Lincoln City is the Roads End State Recreation Site, following in the tradition of place names on the Oregon Coast that should have apostrophes but don’t, for reasons I don’t fully understand.

One of the cooler attractions is the secluded cove and secret beach that can only be accessed during low tide. Just make sure to return before the tide comes back in. A friend of mine once came back five hours late with a sunburn and an empty stomach!

Drift Creek Falls Trail

Also near Otis, the Drift Creek Falls Trail offers two of my favorite things: a suspension bridge and a waterfall. It’s a quick three-mile hike to the falls but rocks and roots can make it a bit tricky, so watch your step!

I also recommend a snack to keep your energy up for the return hike. It’s all downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back.

Final Thoughts

Nelscott Beach is one of my favorite beaches in Lincoln City because there are so many restaurants and other businesses nearby. It’s very easy to take a break from relaxing in the sun to go buy a sandwich and then come back.

It is definitely worth a stop during your next adventure to the sunny Oregon Coast. Why not start planning your trip today?

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