Wild Mare Campground

Area Status: Closed

Tucked among shore pine, Douglas fir and huckleberry, Wild Mare is part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The 12-site campground is located along the central Oregon coast, 22 miles south of the town of Reedsport, and 2 miles north of Coos Bay. The year-round campground is equipped with drinking water, vault toilets, a picnic area, trash bins and recycling receptacles. Horses are welcome in the 12 corrals provided. Head to Horsfall Campground for the use of token operated showers.

Some parts of the dunes are designated for hiking and horseback riding only, while off-road vehicle enthusiasts can roam free on the dunes north of the campground. Horse campers come here to explore the Wild Mare Horse Trail which begins at the Wild Mare Day Use under a canopy of alder and spruce, and then emerges into an open dune area that crosses down to the beach.

History of the Wild Mare

In the mid-twentieth century, the Nels Peterson family of Coos County, Oregon raised livestock, providing animals for rodeos. They leased property for grazing, including the dunes along ocean beaches.

In 1954 they took a group of horses to the dunes. One horse was a year-old filly. A year later, when the Petersons weren’t able to use that area any longer, they rounded up the horses to transport them to another place. As the animals were being herded into a corral, the filly, then two years old, jumped over the eight-foot fence and ran into the dunes.

The Petersons tried many times to catch her, even using relay teams to run her down, but she always escaped. After an announcement that anyone could have the horse if they could catch her, other people tried. But her brown coloring was good camouflage and her splayed hoofs enabled her to run through woods, water, wet sand, and steep-sided dunes.

Known as the Wild Mare, she survived without human help and lived wild and free for thirty-two years. A local legend, she has been celebrated in prose, poetry, song, and in the naming of the Siuslaw National Forest campground at Horsfall Beach, north of Coos Bay.

Source: Caldera, Melody J., Editor, South Slough Adventures: Life on a Southern Oregon Estuary, Coos Bay, Oregon: South Coast Printing, Inc., 1995; U. S. Forest Service, Reedsport, Oregon

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Expect limited or no services and be prepared to pack out all waste.

Snowy Plover restrictions in place March 15 - September 15

All campsites in ODNRA now require a digital reservation and payment.
Reservations: Reserve online at www.recreation.gov or phone 1.877.444.6777. All Wild Mare campsites require a digital reservation and payment. Note that the Siuslaw National Forest does not have any control over the Recreation.gov phone line. Wait times are expected to be longer-than-usual.
Fees: $22 per night for single unit, two vehicle limit
Open Season: May - September
Usage: Heavy
Closest Towns: Reedsport, OR
Coos Bay/North Bend, OR
Water: Yes
Restroom: Vault Toilet
Passes: A valid Recreation Pass is required for the Wild Mare Horse Trail or the Wild Mare Day Use .
Operated By: Siuslaw National Forest
Information Center: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area Visitor Center

General Information

General Notes:

Campground Map IconCampground Map


From North Bend, OR proceed north 1.5 miles to Transpacific Lane. Turn left and proceed 1 mile, turning right across railroad tracks. Travel 100 feet turning right on Horsfall Beach Road. Proceed 1.5miles down Horsfall Road to Wild mare Campground. Campground is located on south side of road.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Campground Camping

No. of Sites 12 single site(s)

RV Camping

No. of Sites 12
Hookup - Water No
Hookup - Sewer No
Size Restrictions Maximum 61 feet; minimum 37 feet; average 45 feet
Dump Stations No
Hookups - Electric no

Horse Camping

Twelve corrals provided. The Wild Mare Horse Trail begins at the nearby Wild Mare Day Use.

No. of Sites 12 corral sites
Water Availability Yes; potable water


Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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