Oregon Coast Guidebook for our Visitors
(Part One of TWO - Heceta Head to Bandon)
"Covering popular scenic viewpoints and time-tested attractions from Florence and its Sahara Desert high dunes to the Redwood Forest's Stout Grove cathedral of trees just over the California border ... this website has been developed by and for discerning Bed & Breakfast Guests ..."NewHoo.com
For A Happy Passenger
Consider traveling SOUTH along Oregon's Coast
Summer's southbound visitors do not have the sun angle to contend with and can ease into and out of as many viewpoints as their time and film supply allows! Not enough viewpoints? That's definitely NOT a problem. There are several hundred dramatic viewpoints, but people traveling north first have to cross a sometimes intimidating stream of oncoming traffic in order to get to them. Then they have to re-cross the same traffic so they can continue on north. On the other hand, southbound passengers enjoy unobstructed views, and a driver's quick decision to turn into a viewpoint, is safer for everyone. Traveling this direction is so easy, travelers are usually unaware of how heavy our Summer traffic flow actually is.
The State of Oregon does keep Highway 101 in great shape, but be aware that this Coastal Highway of ours is basically just a wide two lane road from border to border. It definately helps that there are well maintained bike lanes along both edges, and usually 4 lanes of pavement within city limits, but the rest of the highway is just two wide lanes with occasional passing bays.
As well as a great place to visit, Oregon is also a place to live, work & retire. The best Oregon Directory I know of is Jackie Farris' Oregon Directory. This well maintained, fast & easy to navigate website has over 5000 links to Oregon attractions, business, community, entertainment, events, dining, history, lodging, real estate, recreation and shopping. With over 1100 photos and 23 printable excellent maps, Cody's Guide to Oregon's South Coast on CD-ROM is an outstanding Beaches/Trails/Seastacks resource for armchair travelers and anyone considering relocating to this area.
Pacific Coast - Seattle to San Diego - 1649 Miles: Mike & Bernice Miller A Tandem Ride along the Pacific - 2009. "We are a couple who enjoy touring on our Tandem. I am 51 and my wife is nearing that birthday with a 5 and 0 in it. We have been cyclist since we were married back in 1980... well at least I was. Bernice became one as I encouraged her with short rides from Tennessee to Georgia -- we lived 4 miles from the state line. 4 miles turned into 40 and that to 4 states and so on until 2007 when we successfully rode from Oregon to New Hampshire."
Canada to Mexico 2008: Laurie & Dean Twehues Cycling the Pacific Coast from North to South. In 2007 they rode the Northern Tier from West to East across America - 4600 miles in 92 days. "It was the trip of a lifetime for us and we started planning our 2008 ride while still enjoying celebratory drinks in Bar Harbor. We met so many wonderful people last summer and saw many terrific places on the backroads of the U.S. We were converted forever to long distance touring. We did the ride unsupported...just the two of us, but we had tons of support from friends, family, and lots of folks we met along the way."
How about this British couple's Transamtrail motorcycle trek - New York to Buenos Aires ? The plan was clear and simple (at least in theory). Mark would ship the bike across to Newark, New Jersey, where he would then ride down to Jellico, Tennessee and pick up an off-road trail called the Transamtrail. This trail would take him West through Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada, finally finishing in Port Orford, Oregon. Once there, he would ride down to Las Vegas and meet Daisy off her plane. They would then head South, through Central America to Panama City. From Panama, they would fly over the Darien Gap and Columbia to Quito in Ecuador and ride down the Andes to either Buenos Aires or Santiago. Read all about their adventures on their website, Bells Angels - Mark & Daisy Bell - Travel the Americas by Africa Twin Motorcycle.
For Bicyclists who are planning to cycle the Oregon Coast, James Jones has posted a terrific website, West Coast Bike Trip 2006. James and his friend Tracy began the ride in Seattle, headed west to the coast and rode south on Hwy 101 through Washington and Oregon, and into California. Their long distance ride continued to San Diego and ended 1736 miles later on September 26th.
Considering renting a Harley motorcycle and touring Oregon and our Pacific Coast Highway ? Rex and Karla have shared their experiences on their Gypsy Bee Bikers on the PCH blog ... "Our trip loop from Redmond, OR to the coast and along 101 to tour the Pacific coast on a Harley motorcycle." Former Innkeepers, Rex and Karla now offer their services to other Bed & Breakfasts as Interim Innkeepers.
Most of the coast is rugged with crashing surf along secluded public beaches and stunning headlands. There is also a 50 mile stretch of untamed sand dunes higher than those in the Sahara, and mile after mile of fog-belt forested State Parks, some with remnants of our Ancient Forest growing down to the water's edge.
During the Spring, Oregon's Wildflowers bloom seemingly everywhere! Then once the Fall rains have set in, locals revel in weekends of 'Fabulous Fungal Forays' as the incredible annual abundance of Oregon Mushrooms becomes obvious.
If you take time to explore these dunes by stopping at the "Oregon Dunes Overlook" (Milepost 200.7), you will quickly see why our Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area was the inspiration for Frank Herbert's science fiction classic, "Dune". However, unlike when author Herbert worked here during the 1950's, you can rent a horse or your own dune buggy, or (as I recommend) take a guided dune buggy tour! From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on a daily basis from June through Labor Day at the Oregon Dunes Overlook, guided walks and short geology talks are presented at varying times. Volunteer hosts provide information and have books and maps for sale and there is a nice loop trail you can walk from there through the dunes to the ocean and back. The route begins with an easy 1-mile walk to the beach. However be aware that the soft sand can make for very slow travel and can be hard for small children to deal with. Also some of the posts marking the trail can be hard to spot. You begin at the overlook, head down a steep sand hill and then follow some guideposts across about 1/3 mile of open sand to a path that takes you through a grove of small pine trees and coastal shrubs all the way to the beach. from there you can continue on the loop by following the beach about 1.5 miles south to a small sign that marks the trail that takes you back to the overlook. On the way to the overlook, this trail takes you up into a 'Tree Island' where you can view Tahkenitch Creek to the south, and then takes you back down into the dunes. Look for the posts that mark your return route. There is an entrance fee of $1 per car.
Don't forget your binoculars! And, remember to watch for those viewpoints designated as Whale Watching Sites. Not only are they well located photo opportunities, you will also find trained volunteers there. And on the subject of cameras, if you don't have a wide-angle lens, then be sure to pick up some panoramic single use cameras.
Another good idea is to keep your bird book handy because you will find that many of our whale watching viewpoints are also excellent for Birding Along the Oregon Coast!
Mileposts: (Note: Whole numbered Milepost numbers are real. The fractional ones are estimates.)
- Strawberry Hill
- This is an easy to miss but truly great Sea Lion and Whale Watching viewpoint.
Devil's Elbow State Park
This is the place to access the trail to the Heceta Head Lighthouse. It is a 56' tower located on a bluff 205 feet above the ocean. It was first illuminated in 1894. With its 21 mile range, Heceta Head is rated as the strongest light on the coast. The rocks offshore and the headlands nearby provide abundant sea bird nesting sites. The lighthouse is open May 1st - Sept 30th. (Lighthouse photo by email@example.com)
- Darlingtonia Botanical Gardens
You can view this natural wetland by staying on the boardwalk. This botanical wayside supports a large population of an insect eating plant known by several names such as pitcher plant, cobra lily, and cobra orchid, a plant that uses its nectar to attract insects. Once on the plant, the insects slide down inside of the plant to where its digestive juices await.
- Sutton Recreation Area
Take the paved 300' trail to Holman Vista for a spectacular view of the ocean, dunes, Sutton Creek and wind-sculpted spruces. There is also a mile long loop trail that will take you through wetlands and groves of Shore Pine, Sitka Spruce, huge rhododendrons, and silk-tassel. Listen for the sounds of wildlife, including the shrill cry of ospreys. More than 247 different kinds of birds pass along our coast each year, with at least 137 different bird species present at any time of the year.
- Sandland Adventures
- (541) 997-8087 - call ahead
Sandrail Dune buggy tours - (Scenic or Exciting!).
- I suggest you request the "Scenic" tour out into the dunes.
- Then - if that wasn't heart pounding enough for you -
- ask your driver for the "Exciting" version back to your car.
- Great, impressive, physical, noisy-but-clean ... Adult FUN
- Northern Oregon Dunes Overlook
Walk west about 1/4 mile to this overlook. Marked trails lead out to the beach which is approximately 1 mile away. Walk around a Tree Island, one of the nine sand-surrounded remnants of an Ancient Forest. From 10 am - 3 pm during the Summer, volunteer hosts are available to answer your questions. They will have books and maps for sale as well. There are also guided walks and short geology talks presented at varying times. (Dunes_Feet photo by firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Oregon Dunes Visitors' Center
Watch their short orientation film, and find out about local programs and daily guided walks. Visit the Umpqua River Discovery Center, and/or head 3.5 miles east on Hwy 38 along the fjord-like Umpqua River to the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. There is a sizable herd of Roosevelt Elk and an abundance of wildlife along the creek just beyond the gazebo-housed interpretive displays. The herd is grazing on former pastureland so close to the highway, that at times you can hear their antlers click as the bulls jockey for position in the herd. The best times to see the elk are early in the morning and late evening, but they are usually fairly close by no matter what time of day it is or whatever the weather is. If you miss them, interpretive displays will tell you more about these magnificent animals.
Umpqua River Lighthouse
The lighthouse is located above the entrance to Winchester Bay and adjacent to the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. An earlier structure, located on the north spit of the river in 1857, was the first lighthouse sited on the coast. It fell into the river in 1861 after sand eroded away from its foundation. The current structure is a 65' tower at a 165' elevation and overlooks the sand dunes. Its light was illuminated in 1894 and its lens emits distinctive red and white flashes. You may tour the lighthouse from May 1st - Sept 30th (Lighthouse photo by email@example.com)
- Eel Creek Campground (1.5 mile loop trail to the highest dunes)
- North Bend - Coos Bay
- Charleston Recreation Area (north access)
- Cape Arago Lighthouse
- Sunset Bay State Park
- Shore Acres State Park
- Cape Arago
- North Bend and Coos Bay are two of my favorite, uncrowded Oregon Coast towns. To learn more about that beautiful 'Bay Area', visit John "Scott" Jurgensen's excellentCoos Bay Oregon Photographs and Recreational Activities website.
- Then after you cross over the bridge into North Bend, look for signs that will direct you to Charleston, the Cape Arago Lighthouse, Shore Acres State Park, Sunset Bay and Cape Arago State Park. Charleston is a quiet fishing village and Shore Acres is Oregon's only ocean-front, State Park and Botanical Gardens. This is always a beautiful place to visit. Concerts are performed here in the Summer. Each December, a local group called The Friends of Shore Acres goes all out decorating the gardens for Christmas - creating Holiday Lights at Shore Acres. Last year this winter wonderland of lights and delights drew an estimated 47,680 visitors.
(For south-bound travelers, this area is where you will start to see dramatic clusters of eroded sea stacks standing just offshore. All the way to California, they stand as sentinels, rock remnants of the continent they were once a part of.) On your way back to Hwy.101 you will pass by South Slough National Estuarine Reserve ((541) 888-5558), America's first Estuarine Wildlife Reserve. Here you will find many self-guided nature walks ready for you to enjoy anytime of the year. (Lighthouse photo by firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Charleston Recreation Area (south access)
- Head west towards Charleston. On the way, visit the South Slough Reserve and see America's first Estuarine Reserve. This 4400 acre estuarine system was established in 1974 for scientific study & preservation. There are several short, really great hiking trails here. Proceed to the intersection of with the Cape Arago highway and turn left towards Cape Arago. Check out Sunset Bay State Park, wander around in Shore Acres Botanical Gardens, and then go on to Cape Arago State Park from which you can usually hear/see (fog permitting) lots of seals & sea lions on the beaches/rocks below. The Cape Arago Buoy will show the current off-shore wind, wave, weather and sea conditions.
- 266-ish (Note Milepost Numbering Anomaly due to highway relocation)
Bandon Dunes Resort Golf Course
- Picture a cross between Pebble Beach and Carnoustie
- with a pinch of Pine Valley - for good measure
- and you have Bandon Dunes.
- Dave Seanor (Editor) Golfweek.
- Coquille River Lighthouse
- Located in Bullard's Beach State Park on the north bank of the Coquille River, this lighthouse was commissioned in 1896, decommissioned in 1939 and then was restored in 1979 as an interpretive center. The Coquille River Lighthouse now has a solar powered system that operates an ornamental light atop its 40' octagonal tower. It is located in a highly rated wildlife viewing area and open year-round during daylight hours with tours to the tower watch room guided by park staff upon request.
- Old Town Bandon and Scenic Beach Loop Drive
- Check out Bandon by the Sea. A short detour from Hwy 101 will bring you into Bandon's scenic Old Town and Coquille River waterfront area. Continue along the waterfront and then on up to Beach Loop Drive, a route distinguished by beautiful homes and incredible ocean overlooks. This is quite a concentration of the unusual monolithic Sea Stacks that you will be seeing all the way to California. Continue on Beach Loop Drive and you'll rejoin Highway 101 about 5 miles south of Bandon at Beach Junction.
- Misty Meadows
- Since 1970, this roadside family business has produced
- high quality local jams, jellies and syrups, using no
- coloring agents, preservatives, corn syrup or other fillers.
- We serve Misty Meadows products to our guests.
- Bandon Crossings Golf Course
- Built on ancient Oregon dunes to attract golfers who want a challenging 18-hole course, it will round out the offerings in the Bandon area, complementing but not competing directly with the other courses. Golfers who come for the Bandon Dunes experience will typically enjoy additional golf, and will have a memorable option at Bandon Crossings. Bandon is already a world-renowned golfer's destination, but has lacked a quality 18-hole golf course with an option for cart usage. Bandon Crossings has been built on a breath-taking 340 acre parcel on Highway 101, the major north-south coastal route, about 5 miles south of Bandon. A little over a mile from the Pacific Ocean, Bandon Crossings is built on former sand dunes and offers year round playability. It has a distinctly coastal feel yet is somewhat removed from direct coastal winds.
(Click HERE to proceed to part TWO of this Oregon Coast Guidebook)
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Updated: October 15, 2011