There is something about the Oregon Coast that sets it apart from any other area of coastline in the United States. It is much more rugged, dangerous, and beautiful than the wide, sandy beaches people often associate with the word “coast” or “beach.” Its foggy mountain ranges, historic lighthouses, and towering sea stacks have an allure like no other, and is one of the many gems this incredible state has to offer.
Just over one mile out to sea lies Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, a decommissioned light station perched precariously atop a tiny rock rising up out of the ocean. Starting in 1881, this offshore light station was occupied by a series of lighthouse keepers that kept the lantern lit day and night, so passing ships could find their way around Tillamook Head in conditions with poor visibility. But years of fierce storms and less than ideal living conditions quickly earned the lighthouse the nickname “Terrible Tilly.” Living on this rock was both physically and mentally draining on the keepers, and in 1957 the light was finally put out after 77 years of service. Today, the lighthouse’s only inhabitants are a colony of seals that dominate the rock. Hiking up to Tillamook Head offers the best view of the lighthouse from the mainland, and is an easy 1.5 miles from the Indian Beach parking lot in Ecola State Park.
Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, located in Pacific City, offers a wide variety of activities for those seeking a little adventure. Hiking, surfing, boating, and even hang gliding are all popular along this stretch of coastline. Need a break from all of the action? Come grab a burger and a drink at the Pelican Brewing Company located mere feet away from the beach. The wide, sandy grounds allow access for motor vehicles, and offers a boat launch for those that want to do a little more than just dip their toes in the water.
The area is also home to many unique geological features. Wind, rain, and waves have carved intricate patterns into the textured sandstone cliffs at Cape Kiwanda, and many people visit just to see this part of the park. These sandstone formations are very delicate and unfortunately, a popular attraction called the Duckbill, was destroyed in August 2016 by a group of teenagers. It is important to treat this park, along with others along the coast, with respect and care so that future generations can have the same views and experiences many of us are enjoying now.
Bandon, Oregon is a favorite destination for those who enjoy a well-rounded beach experience. The town is located right along highway 101 and offers excellent seafood, shopping, and one of the best golf courses in the world. For those that are more active, popular activities include horseback riding, fishing, camping, kayaking, and jogging or dog-walking on the wide, sandy surface of Bandon Beach. A lot of the places in Bandon are more centered towards tourists, but the city does a fantastic job of catering to your needs in dining, accommodation, and recreation.
There is much to see and do on Oregon’s Southern Coast, and located just ten minutes north of Brookings, the incredible Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor boasts a variety of beaches, hikes, and grand coastal vistas. The stretch of coast here is probably the most rugged section out of Oregon’s entire coastline. Natural bridges, steep cliff-sides, and sea stacks can be seen scattered throughout the park – a perfect place for a weekend full of exploration and adventure. The nearby town of Brookings offers delicious places to eat at the end of the day, and outdoor equipment, such as paddleboards, kayaks, and surfboards, can be rented from the local surf shops in town. Whatever you choose to do with your time in the state park, plan on leaving later than expected, because once you are here you will not want to leave!
Photos and Words By Taylor Gray