Photo courtesy of Halvor Tweto

The southernmost stop in the sequence of outstanding state parks on the Cape Arago Highway south of Coos Bay, Cape Arago State Park is an ideal place to catch your breath after a busy day of exploration. From the rocky observation point constructed atop the headland’s highest point, the views to the south include Coquille Point and Cape Blanco; if you look toward the north, you’ll get great views of Simpson Reef and Shell Island and hear the barking from thousands of seals and sea lions hauled out on the rocks. Looking west at the Pacific horizon, Cape Arago is an ideal point for whale watching, and several day use picnic tables seem to be set up and oriented expressly for this purpose.

The park is divided into a north and south section. The north is for the expansive views, whereas the south includes a trail down the side of Drake Point to South Cove, where Sir Francis Drake may have anchored in 1579. South Cove is an excellent spot for a quick beach walk and may provide some relief from the winds that batter the headland. This beautiful cove has tide pools to explore, and it opens up toward fantastic southern views. While the trail down is a bit steep, it is well worth the effort.

Between the north and south sections you’ll find many amenities typical of a state park: A large covered picnic area is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and several picnic tables are tucked away beside the natural wind barriers of coastal trees and shrubs. Restrooms with flush toilets are provided here as well. The Oregon Coast Trail reaches Cape Arago State Park from Sunset Bay State Park, introducing the potential to walk the full length of the former Simpson estate, including Shore Acres State Park.