The Best Sand in the Pacific Northwest

Dune Buggy Yellow Throwing Sand in Turn Winchester Bay Oregon cm

If you use sandpaper on the job, you probably know that it’s name is pretty deceptive. That’s because it’s made with neither sand nor paper! The ‘sand’ grit used for the abrasive is typically fine grain of aluminum oxide or garnet, and it’s applied to a backing ‘paper’ that’s usually some sort of thin cloth, such as rayon, cotton, or polyester. The mineral dust might look sand, but it’s much sharper than ocean sand, and thus why sandpaper is technically considered to be a cutting tool. If you’re looking for some real sand, we think the best place to find it is riding atop an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) on the beach. Oregon and Washington have some great dunes, with several recreational areas to ride and explore. Here are some of our favorites:


Oregon has some great riding spots for ATVs, we’re lucky that the state has some designated areas right on the ocean beaches.


The dunes and trails are easy and plentiful in Florence. You’ll find oodles of sandy roads and designated rides between South Jetty to the Siltcoos River. Because there’s so much room, it’s a bit safer because you can find somewhere to ride, no matter your level or speed. Plus there’s access to beach and the underwater springs.

Winchester Bay

You’ll ride Oregon’s highest and most dramatic dunes in Umpqua Riding area. There are several campgrounds nearby, and the Umpqua Lighthouse is at the north end of the dunes. It’s usually a little more crowded here, but worth it to climb the tallest dunes and check out incredible views of the Pacific Ocean.

Coos Bay

This area is a long stretch on the Oregon coast with a variety of riding opportunities between Spinreel and Horsfall. If you like to ride along the shore, there’s year round beach access too. Spinreel is Oregon’s largest dune area, with trails, wildlife, and fantastic ocean views. There’s also several area campgrounds with sand access.



Unlike in Oregon, most Pacific beaches in Washington are restricted from ATVs. While there’s some areas with access now, the best sand to ride your ATV in Washington isn’t next to the ocean.

Moses Lake

The inland sand dunes offer over 3,000 acres of sand trails and hills to ride year round with direct access to the lake. The mud flats are right next to the dunes, and offer an additional 3000 acres of mud trails to ride on during the summer months.

Evans Creek

At the foot of the cascades, about an hour and a half southeast of Seattle, there’s 20 miles of trails you can climb to get breathtaking views of Mount Rainier. It can be a challenging trail, however, even for experienced riders.


About 4 hours from Seattle, the Rimrock Lake-Ahtanum area provides over 100 miles of trails for ATVs. They are, however, only open the summer months, so plan a weekend to go camping and take full advantage of your adventure on the ample trails ahead.


Thankfully the sand from northwest dunes aren’t as sharp as sandpaper, but we still recommend bringing a scarf to protect your face, in case some of that sand kicks up! And if you’re looking for a job in the trades to use some sharper sand, call Madden today, we work with employers that are looking for talented craftsmen like you