Due to the number of photos I want to share from Cape Arago to Bandon, I'm dividing this blog entry in three parts. I think that helps viewing photos from a mobile device. In part one I'll highlight our campground and Cape Arago.
Highlights: Beach-side campsite; Cape Arago SP (Sea Lions and Seals, Tide Pools, Pacific Costal Trail); Shore Acres State Park (gardens); Sunset Golf Course; Wind!
Campground: Site 44;Full hookups; CATV; adequate Verizon cellular and AT&T LTE at campsite. Superb location. Our campground is actually in the tiny unincorporated fishing community of Charleston even though the address is Coos Bay.
The campsite before the new road - level gravel.
We had one of the two most popular sites (along with site 45) as they are on either side of the short trail to the beach. Despite a week of constant wind between 15-25 MPH most afternoons it was calm in our site due to a brush covered sand dune between us and the beach. An easy 50 steps or so from our trailer and we were on a mille long beach to the jetty at the entrance of Coos Bay. The only negative to our stay was finding out on our arrival that they were paving the camp roads. It turned out to be only a slight inconvenience for one day where I had to park near the entrance. The day they paved our loop (their last job), we spent the day in Bandon and they were done when we got back.
The trail to the beach is to the right of our rig.
This campground was recently purchased by Sun RV Resorts. They were preparing to upgrade all the utilities and raise the pads after finishing the roads. I expect the prices will go up accordingly. While some upgrades may be necessary (or CATV had problems), I preferred the beachy atmosphere of the sand roads over pavement.
The path to the beach and a happy camper.
The campground has a few tent sites with picnic tables on the beach. With no one camping there we used this sheltered space on a windy day.
Low tide fun hopping the islands like a little kid.
Heading south on the Cape Arago Highway from Oceanside RV Resort you reach Sunset Bay State Park, that includes a pretty and sheltered cove with a sandy beach and day use area as well as a campground. It is one of the few places where swimming is popular. There is a trail from the parking area that goes out to a headland with views of the beach and Cape Arago Lighthouse. The trail continues to Shore Acres State Park, where you could pick up another leg of the trail all the way to Cape Arago. This trail is a “beach trail” spur of the Oregon Coast trail.
An interesting sign at the parking lot at Sunset Bay State Park. There is a nice day use area here.
One of the coves reached from the trail.
Cape Arago Lighthouse has an interesting history you can read about here:
It was deactivated in 2005. Later the island and the lighthouse were given over to the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians who have a burial ground just over on the mainland.
Cape Arago Lighthouse
Cape Arago Lighthouse from the Oregon Coast Trail.
Just past the park is the Sunset Bay Golf Course a funky little 9 hole course in great condition and lots of water to keep you frustrated. There is VERY limited parking and not enough room to turn around, so you parallel park in a single line on one side of the road leading up to the clubhouse. Walk up and pay all of $18 for 9 holes. On leaving you have to back up down the gravel road and maneuver a backwards turn at a fork in the road.
Sunset Bay Golf Course Not bad for $18!
I saw a rattlesnake on one course, a snapping turtle on another, osprey, and now a white horse.
Shore Acres State Park's focal pointis it's wonderful garden. Originally part of Louis Simpson's private estate. More info can be found at (http://shoreacres.net/about-us/about-shore-acres-state-park/) including the following excerpt:
“Shore Acres began as a private estate with luxurious gardens featuring trees, shrubs, and flowering plants brought from around the world aboard the sailing ships of pioneer lumberman and shipbuilder Louis J. Simpson. Simpson developed the summer home into a showplace three-story mansion complete with a heated, indoor swimming pool and a large ballroom. The grounds contained five acres of formal gardens, including a Japanese-style garden built around a 100-foot lily pond... financial losses in the 1930s caused both house and grounds to fall into disrepair. In 1942, Simpson’s beloved Shore Acres was purchased by the state of Oregon for use as a public park.”
"Queen of Sweden" rose.
The $5 entrance fee to the park also provides access to the headlands with terrific views and access to the trails described above to Cape Arago or to Sunset Bay. We hiked from Shore Acres north along the coast passing several coves and outcroppings. We saw some really interesting erosion patterns in the rocks.
Around every point your view changes. Here we saw a tree hanging on for dear life.
There was a young lady leapfrogging us on the trail who periodically perched herself at a cliff edge to get that special photo. In one section of the trail we stood against a wooden rail and saw a similar rail hanging over a ledge showing just how realistically the sides can erode.
We no sooner reached the opposite side of the cove near the hanging railing, and saw the young lady taking a photo against the same railing we were just at . We're sure she, like us before her, had no idea that there was very little earth between her and the crashing surf below. Yikes!
Man, there is NOTHING holding up that fence rail.
[See blog part 2 for photos of the seals on Simpsons Reef along this road.]
Cape Arago. At the end of the road is Cape Arago. There are two trails on opposite sides of the parking. The north trail is closed to the beach for half the year due to the seals and sea lions, but a walk down the path leads to a fantastic viewpoint of sea lions just beyond the point. From here you can also see Simpson Reef in the distance. I took my best sea lion photos of our trip here and will post them in part 2 on this blog. The north trail can lead to a beach, but it is closed in the spring to protect the seal and sea lion pups.
A trail on the exit lane at the southern end of the parking lot leads down a hundred feet to a beach protected from the north winds. It is advertised as being a good place to explore tide pools, but be prepared to walk maybe 50 yards over good sized rocks if going out towards the point. We stuck to some flat rocks near the beach that still had some nice anemones and a couple pretty starfish.
The south beach at Cape Arago
The path to the south beach.
On the trail
Photos from the beach at our campground.
There was a great little rocky point on our beach that you could access at low tide. Once out there I found a sea cave and Brandt's cormorants nesting on the rocks. I saw one circling me so I took a quick photo of him and knew it was a sign to leave.
It wasn't too hard to walk out on this edge all the way to the point. A couple small tide pools with anemones and crabs too.
At high tide, I couldn't get out to the point, so I came back another day.
The rocks on the point were eroded in fascinating patterns.
Brand'ts cormorants are identified by their fluorescent blue and green. Pretty birds.
Eats and Drinks.
In Charleston we ate at Rising Tides twice and Millers at the Cove. Rising Tides is nothing fancy, but has a deck with a nice estuary view and better than expected menu and food for the area. Millers is highly praised, but is a blue collar sports bar. We didn't give it high marks because the crab melt was not as good as we had in Port Orford.
Finishing with the ubiquitous sunset photos from our beach:
Catch the seals in part 2!