Looking for a unique horse camping experience at the beach? Go checkout Wild Mare Horse Camp. This camp lends itself to a fun and relaxing camping trip that has something for everyone.Looking for a unique horse camping experience at the beach? Go checkout Wild Mare Horse Camp. This camp lends itself to a fun and relaxing camping trip that has something for everyone.
Wild Mare has 12 beautiful sites with paved, level camping areas. There is potable water located throughout the camp for easy access and manure dumps on either end. Each site features fire rings and picnic tables. There are nice new-ish galvanized horse pens in about half the sites and the other sites feature sturdy, functional wood pens that are well maintained. This camp is well taken care of with lots of amenities that make it an easy and enjoyable experience. It’s one of the nicer camps we’ve visited.The ride to the beach is about a mile through a beautiful canopy of alder and spruce, with a mossy forest floor that feels like a fairy tale at times. The trail opens into the dunes which are covered in gorgeous swaying grasses and evergreen beachy scrub. We saw coyotes and deer, dragonflies and lizards and enjoyed the misty sea breeze as we rode. The trails go through the dunes most of the times so plan on a lot of deep sand and slow miles. It’s a tough workout for the horses so our group would do 3-5 miles at a time and then return to the camp for a cocktail and a snack and to give the horses a break. We would ride again later on for an evening ride when the tide was out. We found the mornings to be sunny and clear. Later in the day the dense fog would roll-in along the beach. You can also ride west of the horse camp where there are marked horse trails, through interesting scenery, huge dunes and views of the lake.
Even the drive to Wild Mare is beautiful! We traveled over the mountains to Eugene and south on I-5 to Drain. The drive along the Umpqua River, past the Dean Creek Elk viewing area, and towards Reedsport is stunning. There are several charming small towns and beautiful views of the river. The location of Wild Mare Horse Camp is 22 miles south of Reedsport and 2 miles north of North Bend.
THINGS TO KNOW
- Keep in mind that as you enter on Horsefall Beach Road the area to the North is designated for motorized vehicles. There are a lot of OHV riders traveling that area and enjoying the dunes. The area on the south side of the road is non-motorized and where you will find the horse camp and designated trails. The OHV riders are good about staying in their designated area. You can hear the hum of the OHVs from the horse camp throughout the day but most of the time it’s not distracting.
- Camp sites are reservation only and must be made on line before you arrive.
- Sites 1 and 2 are currently not reservable on line and are held to solve reservation issues.
- This is a year-round camp. Our group traveled at the end of August when the days were 70 degrees and the evenings were comfortable but cool because of the fog. It was a great break from the high desert’s warmer temps.
- The horse camp is only a 10 minute drive to North Bend/Coos Bay so if you need supplies you are close to town.
THE HISTORY OF 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 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 of History information: 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