Adventures on the Oregon Coast
As my husband Steve and I finish packing we are both excited about this most recent camping trip along the Oregon coast. Yes, we live in Newport but there is something different about taking your vacation on another part of the coast. You get to see and experience things you don’t when you are at home. So off we go.
First stop is Cape Perpetua in the Siuslaw National Forest just south of Yachats. It is one of our fondest places along the coast – with good reason – it is where we got married almost 25 years ago. We drive up to the top and talk the ¼ mile hike out to the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At 803’ it is the tallest accessible point along the coast and what a spectacular view.
On to Heceta Head lighthouse about 11 miles north of Florence. This is one of many beautiful lighthouses along the entire coast. I understand it is one of the most photographed lighthouses, which is understandable considering the easy access to Hwy 101.
We continue on down the road and decide we’ve gone far enough for one day and pull in to Honeyman State Park just south of Florence. This is a wonderful park that is in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and offers lakes, fishing and campsites. Hiking on the dunes is fun and offers your legs a workout like no other.
Early the next morning we get ourselves all packed up and head towards Reedsport to Schooner Inn Café a little restaurant right on the Umpqua River. Really terrific food but we are a little early to order our favorite dessert “Death by Chocolate” so we enjoy our breakfast and watch the activities along the river.
We decided that it was time in our life that we drive up the river and finally check out the Dean Creek Elk Viewing area. While it is only a few miles up the river we’d never taken the time to go so off we went. It was awesome! I thought we might see one or two elk far away but we saw a huge herd of elk laying down right near the parking areas. They just lay there watching us watching them. What an amazing sight I too didn’t realize that they would be the size of horses.
Just south of Reedsport we took the “back road’ through Winchester Bay to check out the Umpqua River Lighthouse. It is wonderful to drive through the old forest canopy that opens up so you can see the ocean, sand dunes and the lighthouse.
Then we’re off to Coos Bay/North Bend and Charleston. We decide that we’ll spend the night at the Bastendorf County Park in Charleston. It is a wonderful little park that overlooks the Pacific Ocean even though we didn’t have a view from our campsite it was a nice well kept County Park and is a short drive to Shore Acres State Park. This is a beautiful park that offers an immaculately kept garden that Louis J. Simpson created for his wife. We are reminded that we need to come back here after Thanksgiving to see the Christmas light display.
The next day we are off to the town of Bandon and the Coquille River. We head out the mouth of the river and get changed for a fun day of surfing – finally we get to go surfing. Today the rides are short but the waves are good. It is really pretty here looking south along the beach you can see many of the Oregon Islands jetting out of the ocean for all to see. These are all wildlife sanctuaries and are protected by the US Fish & Wildlife Department. Looking north you’ll see the Coquille River lighthouse. It is another great view but it you want to get next to it you’ll have to go back north on Hwy 101 to Bullard’s Beach State Park – definitely worth the short drive.
We get cleaned up and head to old town where there are some great little shops all within walking distance. We stumble into Devon’s Boutique that is a great shop offering a variety of stylish clothing. Great find in Bandon. After surfing, now shopping we head down the street just a little to a Bandon Baking Company and Deli. Oh my goodness! Do they have the best cookies! We eat a couple now but bring more along for later.
About 14 miles south of Bandon is a little community called Langlois. It is one of those communities that we you drive through you say don’t blink or you’ll miss it. I don’t remember when we first discovered the hot dogs here but it is now a must stop for us every time we head this way. Stop in the grocery store and check them out. These are hot dogs that are made in Pendleton Oregon that they heat slowly then add spice mustard (optional) and a pickle all on a bun. Yummy!
Heading on we select our next destination as the Cape Blanco State Park and lighthouse. It is a driving off Hwy 101 but worth it and is the farthest point west along the coast. We find our campsite and decide to take a much-needed walk to the lighthouse. What a great view looking off the bluff to the Pacific Ocean.
The next day we’re up and off to Port Orford another small town but it has a movie theater showing the latest movies, some really good restaurants, the Lifeboat Station Museum and a terrific harbor. There is no “harbor” as you might think of for a port. This harbor is one of only a handful that hauls the boats in and out of the water for dry-docking. It is an interesting sight to watch this process.
As we leave Port Orford we see surfers in the water just south of town. We decided to try our hand at surfing again so off we go changing into our suits and the short hike to the beach. What a blast! The waves are great and there aren’t too many people out during the middle of the week.
Tonight we are going to stay at Tu Tu Tun lodge. It is several miles up the Rogue River but is worth every mile. Early in the morning we’ll get picked up by one of the local jet boat companies for a wild and scenic ride up the Rogue River. This trip we’ll go all the way up and stop for lunch at Agness. What a trip! We saw black bear, deer, Osprey, Bald Eagles, and salmon. The captains take such good care of you and really make the ride enjoyable way beyond seeing the wildlife.
At the south end of Brookings-Harbor we head to Azalea Park. There we find hundreds of Azaleas that have been there for years. We’ve missed them being in full bloom but we can imagine how the park must look during the bloom. We know we’ll have to return just to see them all.
Tomorrow we must head home but we will always remember this special trip and will look forward to returning soon so we can discover even more things to experience.