How to have an EPIC Southern Oregon Coast Road Trip! (The BEST things to do + 3 day itinerary!)

Want to have an epic Southern Oregon Coast road trip? In this guide we’re sharing the best stops, where to stay, and a 3 day itinerary!

Back when we lived in Seattle, one of our favorite places to visit on the weekends was the Oregon Coast. With a mix of stunning beaches, fun hiking trails, unique cliffs and rock formations, plus charming towns, it makes for the perfect relaxed, yet adventurous getaway.

We typically visited Cannon Beach on the Northern Oregon Coast, due to its closer proximity to Seattle, and while every section of the coast is stunning, we have to say our favorite region of the coast so far is the Southern Oregon Coast.

Bandon, Oregon | Southern Oregon Coast

Check out our road trip along the Southern Oregon Coast from 2022, which includes many of the stops listed on this guide!

Compared to the other parts of the coast we have visited, the Southern Oregon Coast feels more rugged, wild, and remote. It’s a bit further from any major cities, which makes the crowds a bit lighter, but it still offers everything that makes the Oregon Coast a magical place.

We have road tripped the Southern Oregon Coast a couple times now and in this guide we’re sharing all of the best stops to make on a Southern Oregon Coast road trip, important things to know beforehand, and helpful logistics, like a full three day itinerary, with places to stay each day. We hope you enjoy this slice of coastal heaven as much as we do!

Looking for more things to do in Oregon? Check out these guides & videos:

Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

About the Southern Oregon Coast

Southern Oregon Coast

With 363 miles of rugged coastline, there is a lot to explore along the Oregon Coast. In fact, it’s known as the “People’s Coast” because every mile of it is open for the public to enjoy! 

Unlike some coastal regions in the United States, the Oregon Coast isn’t exactly a tropical getaway. The beaches aren’t filled with palm trees, but rather full of giant rocky sea stacks, Douglas Firs and Pines, and mountainous backdrops. 

With many rainy and foggy days, plus cold waters, it may not be the kind of beach that you lay out and go for a swim (unless you’re brave!), but with tons of state parks, beaches, overlooks, trails, and small towns, it offers plenty of other ways to enjoy its coastline and stay busy!

Bandon, Oregon | Southern Oregon Coast

While many consider the Southern Oregon Coast the section from Brookings to Coos Bay, we have not made it as far north as Coos Bay. So for the sake of this guide, we’re specifically referring to the Southern Oregon Coast as the section from Brookings to Bandon, which is about 83 miles of coastline and about 1.5 hours of driving, without any stops. But trust us, you WILL want to make stops!

Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!

These seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, hiking and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly (pack out what you pack in!), understanding campfire rules and always fully extinguishing your fires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors. 

Getting to the Southern Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is not near any major towns and is a bit off the beaten path from the main north-south thoroughfare (I-5), so it does require a bit of effort to get to, whether you’re driving or flying. 

Flying to the Southern Oregon Coast

There are no major cities on the southern Oregon Coast, but it isn’t too far from a few major cities with airports if you need to fly into the area. 

The closest large airport is the Eugene Airport (EUG) and is about a 2.5 hour drive to Bandon, on the northern end of the Southern Oregon Coast. It is served by several major airlines including Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines.

The largest airport though will be the Portland International Airport (PDX), which is just over 4 hours from Bandon (and just under 6 hours from Brookings) and offers tons of airline and flight options across the US!

Southern Oregon Coast Road Trip

Driving to the Southern Oregon Coast

The Southern Oregon Coast makes for a great road trip stop if road tripping on the West Coast. Here’s how long you can expect to drive from nearby popular destinations:

Redwood National & State Parks (CA): Between ½ hour-1.5 hours, depending on where in the park you come from.
Eugene, OR to Bandon, OR: 2.5 hours (133 miles)
Crater Lake National Park (OR): 4 hours (193 miles)
Portland, OR to Bandon, OR: 4 hours (246 miles)
Redding, CA to Brookings, OR: 4 hours, 45 minutes (237 miles)
Bend, OR to Bandon, OR: 4 hours, 45 minutes (254 miles)

How to get around the Southern Oregon Coast

Southern Oregon Coast Road Trip

Since this is a road trip, you’ll definitely need your own car or to rent a car. Any type of car will work fine! Our long Sprinter van was able to handle all roads and we were able to access everything without any issues, including parking lots. 

However, if you plan to bring a large RV or trailer, we’d suggest leaving it at a campground and using your other vehicle to get around, as many parking lots do not have RV parking.

When to visit the Southern Oregon Coast

Sisters Rocks State Park | Southern Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is an extremely mild climate, with the average highs being in the 50s-60s year round. And similar to most places in the Pacific Northwest, the summer (June-September) is the best time to visit if you want to experience more sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures. 

However, the prices and crowds will be higher in the summer, so if you want more solitude and to get a better deal on lodging, we’d suggest visiting in the late spring or early fall. May and October are less crowded than the summer and also slightly less rainy than the winter. Just make sure to bring a rain jacket!

Samuel H. Boardman | Southern Oregon Coast

And speaking of the winter, the winter on the Southern Oregon Coast brings a lot of rain and storms (we have had sunny days in the winter too!), including a phenomenon called the King Tides, which occur during a new or full moon. In 2023, the King Tides will be on January 20-22, 2023 and also during November and December. For the average sightseeing visitor, this may be a tough time to visit weather wise, but for storm watchers, you’ll love it!

Regardless of when you visit and what the weather is like, you can still have a lot of fun on the Southern Oregon Coast! We have visited the Oregon Coast in just about every season and have experienced all sorts of weather and we personally think the Oregon Coast is still stunning on a rainier, foggier day. It just adds to that Pacific Northwest moodiness that we grew to love while living in Seattle.

Where to stay on the Southern Oregon Coast

Cape Blanco State Park | Southern Oregon Coast

Although there are no major cities along the Southern Oregon Coast, there are a lot of smaller towns, which will have a variety of accommodations, like Airbnbs, hotels, and campgrounds, with some having more than others. 

Below are some options for four different areas including Brookings, the southern point of the coast, Port Orford and Gold Beach, both of which are about half way, and Bandon, the northern end of the Southern Oregon Coast.

A few things to note about lodging:

  • You may have to hop around each night to different accommodations to reduce driving. OR you could just drive a bit extra everyday to stay in one place.
  • We will be including a three day itinerary later on in this guide and will suggest where to stay each night if you are willing to move around!
  • For those who enjoy free camping, we found the options to be very limited on the Oregon Coast, so we stuck to paid camping.

Brookings

Vacation Rentals

Colorful Ocean Retreat, Luxury Apartment (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom)
Beautiful Oceanview Home (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms)

Hotels

Harbor View
Ocean Suites Motel 
Beachfront Inn

Campgrounds

Harris Beach State Park  
The Harris Beach State Park Campground is open year round, although some loops close in the winter. There are 149 sites with 80 of them having at least electric and water hookups. Reservations are required with the exception of the C Loop which is first-come, first-served Nov 1-May 24.

Alfred A. Loeb State Park
This state park is located 8 miles inland from the coast, but what you miss in the coastal benefits is made up by the fact that you’re camping within minutes to the northernmost redwood grove in the US and along the Chetco River! 

There are electrical sites with water, 3 reservable yurts, flush toilets, and hot showers, and river and gravel bar access for fishing. 

Harvest Hosts

While not technically in Brookings (it’s just across the border in California), there is a Harvest Host, the Lucky 7 Casino, which allows overnight stays for self contained RVers. We stayed here for a night before heading to Brookings! 

Not sure what Harvest Hosts is? It is a paid membership for self contained RVers that lets you stay at farms, breweries, wineries, golf courses, and other spots for FREE, with the expectation that you will support the business. While this means you do need to spend some money and it’s not totally free, it’s usually a unique experience and you get to support a local business. 

Want to join Harvest Hosts? Use our link to get 15% off on your membership (make sure to add the code HHFRIENDS15 too)! 

Southern Oregon Coast

Gold Beach

Vacation Rentals

Dog-friendly Oceanside Home (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms)
Stunning apartment in Gold Beach with fireplace + partial ocean views (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms)
Beachy Dog-friendly home (3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms)

Hotels

Taylor Creek Lodge

Campgrounds

Secret Camp RV Park 
Many reviewers say this campground is very quiet and the sites are nice and large. It’s a smaller campground, but includes full hookups, showers and restrooms, and a lazy creek that runs through camp. 

Lobster Creek National Forest Campground
This campground is located about 20 minutes inland from Gold Beach. It’s a small National Forest campground (7 sites) that might not be the best for larger rigs. It’s located right along the Rogue River and some reviewers say there can be a lot of boat traffic and subsequent noise from the jet boat tours. With that said it seems like a nice campground with potable water, but no hookups and no reservations. 

Quosatana National Forest Campground 
Just a couple minutes east of the Lobster Creek Campground is Quosatana National Forest campground. This campground is much bigger, with 43 dry campsites. Quosatana Campground is located right on the Rogue River so you will get the boat traffic again, but you can easily fish from the shore and there is potable water. Reservations are not required.

Port Orford

Vacation Rentals

Cape Blanco State Park | Southern Oregon Coast

Most Spectacular Ocean Views – Studio East Lower (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom)
Heartland Treehouse (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom)
Upper Port View Bungalow (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom)
Oregon Coast Beach Cabin Getaway (3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom)
China Mountain House (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms) – this one looks epic!

Campgrounds

Cape Blanco State Park
We stayed here at Cape Blanco State Park Campground and LOVED it! There are sites with hookups, tons of tall trees, and flush toilets and hot showers. Sites can be booked up to six months in advance, so make sure to book early! The campground was pretty full during our visit, even on a rainier weekday.

Humbug Mountain State Park
With access to the highest headland on the Oregon coast and the beach, Humbug Mountain State Park would be a fun place to stay! There are lots of sites with hookups and flush toilets and hot showers available. 

Boice Cope Park
This campground is a Curry County campground located just north of Port Orford. It’s a small campground sitting right next to the beach and has wifi and laundry available. Reservations must be made at least 2 days prior to arrival.

Bandon

Vacation Rentals

Artist Cabin on Pacific Ocean (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom)
Coastal Forest Cabin (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom)
Bandon Beach Shack (2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom)
Surf Song – Amazing views of Face Rock Beach (3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms)

Hotels

Table Rock Motel
Best Western Inn at Face Rock
Bandon Inn

Campgrounds

Bullards Beach State Park
Located just north of Bandon is Bullards Beach State Park Campground. This is a pretty large campground with most sites having hookups, 13 yurts, flushable toilets and showers, and a dump station. 

Harvest Hosts

Bandon Crossings Golf Course is another Harvest Host along the Southern Oregon Coast near Bandon. While we did not stay here, it definitely doesn’t seem like a bad spot…especially for the golf lovers!

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Things to know before visiting the Southern Oregon Coast

Bandon, Oregon | Southern Oregon Coast

Entrance Fees

Every spot listed on this guide is FREE to visit! While some Oregon State Parks and recreation areas do require a day use fee (you can see the list here), none of the parks on this guide have a fee to visit. 

Dogs are allowed

Dogs are allowed in all areas listed on this guide, but for many of them, they must be on a 6 foot leash. Please follow leash laws (not all dogs or humans want strange dogs running up to them!) and always pick up after your dog.

Cell service can be spotty

Our cell service was very hit or miss along the Southern Oregon Coast. Make sure to download Google Maps for offline use as well as any trails you want to hike on AllTrails to ensure you don’t get lost!

Hide valuables

Break-ins are common along the 101, unfortunately, so please do not leave any valuables or anything visible in your car. We thankfully have not had any issues though!

Ocean Safety

You’ll be spending a lot of time on the beach and near the ocean and it is important to take extra caution near these areas. Here are a few tips to stay safe while adventuring: 

  • Never turn your back on the ocean, unexpected large waves are common
  • Know the tide schedule so you don’t get caught somewhere when the tide rises. You can find the times for tides at: tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov 
  • Be careful of the driftwood. They can be brittle and slick so it’s best not to walk on them if you can avoid it.
  • Don’t walk next to cliff edges. The cliff edges are often unstable and could collapse at any given moment. Stay behind guardrails and fences

What to bring 

Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman | Southern Oregon Coast

Camera

You will definitely want to bring a camera on your Southern Oregon Coast road trip! The best camera is the one you have at the moment, but if you’re curious what cameras and gear we use, check out our gear list.

Since it may be rainy, you’ll want to also bring protection for your camera. We just use a good ‘ol shower cap on our camera to keep it dry!

Food, snacks, water

While there are some towns along the way to grab food at, we have found that it’s most convenient (and best for hanger) to have food and water on you while road tripping along the Southern Oregon Coast!

Pro tip: store it all in a cooler! Before we had our Sprinter van, we used this YETI cooler to store our road trip provisions and it was a champ!

Hiking gear

If you’re doing any hiking, make sure to bring the appropriate hiking gear with you (see what all we take here!). We also always recommend having the 10 essentials on you, which can come in handy both for hiking or if you have any car troubles and get stuck in one spot for a bit.

Layers and extra clothes

The weather on the Oregon Coast can be cool in the mornings and evenings, so you’ll want to pack some layers for the changing temperatures. Also, when it’s rainy and muddy, your clothes may get dirty and soaked, so it’s a good idea to bring extra clothes you can change into.

Rain Jacket

There is a very good chance it will rain for at least part of your trip, so bringing a rain jacket is a must!

A variety of shoes

We suggest bringing a variety of shoes for your Southern Oregon Coast road trip. We recommend hiking shoes for the trails, but also bringing shoes for the beaches, like Chacos or flip flops.

Car phone charger

Since you may be relying on your phone for navigation and trail maps, you’ll want to pack a car charger to keep your phone charged. Plus, if you’re camping, you will want to ensure you charge when you can!

Music and Podcasts

While the scenery alone will keep you entertained during the drive, you may want some music or podcasts to listen to as well! Some of our favorite podcasts are Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet and we like to listen to The Bobby Bones Show, which is a national radio show. Make sure to download anything you want to listen to in advance, as you won’t have service most of the drive.

The best stops on the Southern Oregon Coast

Below are some of the best stops along the Southern Oregon Coast, going from south to north, which is how we did our trip most recently. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of every single thing to do along the Southern Oregon Coast, these are all spots that we highly recommend or that came highly recommended to us and are on our list for next time!

Brookings

Photo by katy hardman on Unsplash

Known as Oregon’s “banana belt,” Brookings has some of the warmest temperatures year round on the Oregon coast. There is tons of outdoor recreation here, including biking, hiking, fishing, beach combing, and so much more! Here are some top spots to check out in Brookings itself.

Harris Beach State Park

Harris Beach State Park has a lot of beach to explore, plus crazy cool sea stacks, tide pools, and even the chance to see harbor seals, California sea lions, and gray whales as they pass by on their winter and spring migrations. 

And make sure to look for puffins! Bird Island (also known as Goat Island), just off the coast is not only a National Wildlife Sanctuary and a breeding site for tufted puffins, but is also the largest island along the Oregon coast. 

While in the park, take the short Harris Beach Trail (0.6 miles) to Harris Butte, where you’ll have a birds eye view of the coastline. Also, be sure to check out Arch Rock at low tide, when you can get really close to its arch!

Where to eat in Brookings

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

Samuel H. Boardman | Southern Oregon Coast

One of the most iconic and “can’t miss” spots on the Southern Oregon Coast is the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. This is a 12 mile stretch of coastline named after the first Oregon Parks superintendent and has a mixture of quick overlooks, beaches, rugged coastline, rock arches, hikes, and so much more!

It would be really difficult to list and describe all of the amazing spots to see at Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor in this guide, but we have featured some of our favorite spots we’ve visited, plus some we’d like to visit next time below!

Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint

From the parking area it’s only a half mile walk to the incredible Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint which is a fantastic spot to see the rugged coast line and keep your eye out for whales in fall and spring.

You can also take the Lone Ranch to Cape Ferrelo Loop Trail (1.6 miles round trip, 291 feet of elevation gain) from the Lone Ranch Picnic Area and end up at the Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint. 

House Rock Viewpoint

Next up on your scenic journey is the House Rock Viewpoint, which is a short, easy stroll from the large parking area. 

Whaleshead Beach Samuel H. Boardman | Southern Oregon Coast

Whaleshead Beach

Less than a couple minutes north of the House Rock Viewpoint is the Whaleshead Viewpoint and Whaleshead Beach, which we LOVED!

There are a couple different ways to get down to the beach. If you follow Google Maps to Whaleshead Beach it will take you down a road that says 4WD is required. We had read mixed reviews on how rough the road was, but we didn’t want to run into any issues with our large, non 4WD van, so we decided to go the alternative route, which is from the Whaleshead Viewpoint.

The viewpoint has a small parking lot and right of the parking lot is a short, but very steep (and slick after rain!) trail that takes you down to the beach. 

If you’re looking for a longer adventure while in this area, you can also hike the Thomas Creek Whaleshead Beach Trail, which starts from just north of Whaleshead Beach, travels along the bluff, connects with the Indian Sands Trail, then loops back to where you started for a 3 mile round trip hike. 

Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman | Southern Oregon Coast

Natural Bridges

One of the most popular stops at Samuel H. Boardman is Natural Bridges, which are seven arched rocks and blowholes. You have very likely seen photos of these before, as it’s one of the most photographed spots on the Southern Oregon Coast!

The easiest and safest way to view the bridges is from the overlook, just a quick walk from the parking area. There is a side trail to get closer to the bridge and some people do walk across the bridge, but we highly advise NOT doing this.

Several people have fallen and died from the steep, unstable terrain. When people get hurt and need assistance, it costs a lot of time and resources, as well as puts other people in danger. We attempted a side trail a few years ago and it was incredibly steep and sketchy at times, so we turned around before the end and were very happy with that decision. This time, we just enjoyed it safely from the overlook and recommend you do the same.

Secret Beach at Samuel H. Boardman | Southern Oregon Coast

Secret Beach

Miles (round trip): 1.6
Elevation (feet): 374
Reviews & Current Conditions

Just a stone’s throw from Natural Bridges is Secret Beach, which was our favorite stop at Samuel H. Boardman and one of the BEST stops along the entire Southern Oregon Coast, in our opinion!

The beach can be a little confusing to find and the first hurdle is picking a trailhead. Google Maps has a pin for one trailhead, which we went to first (parking is VERY limited), but the trail was insanely steep and very overgrown, so we turned around to try a different route.

Instead, we parked here to start the hike and the trail was more straightforward in our opinion! However, it does have a couple different offshoots, so you’ll want to download the AllTrails map in advance to ensure you don’t get turned around. Secret Beach will be the third, most northern offshoot!

Secret Beach at Samuel H. Boardman | Southern Oregon Coast

This route for Secret Beach takes you through the forest and right by a gorgeous waterfall. You will end with a stunning view of Secret Beach, which has some huge rocks jutting out of the sand. While viewing the beach from up here is beautiful, if you’re feeling brave, you can also hike down to the beach. However, ONLY do this if it is LOW TIDE!

Secret Beach at Samuel H. Boardman | Southern Oregon Coast

At high tide, the beach won’t be accessible, so in order to stay safe on the beach, only visit at a falling tide and at low tide, to ensure you do not get stuck on the beach as the tide rises. The hike down to the beach itself is more like a scramble down some rocks, which can be slick after rain, so please be careful if you attempt this. 

Once on the beach, you’ll have to cross some streams, which come from waterfalls that feed into the ocean, so your feet may get wet!

While Secret Beach requires a bit of work to get to, it’s well worth it, as it is one of the best coastal views and the adventure to get there only makes it even sweeter.

Samuel H. Boardman | Southern Oregon Coast

Arch Rock Picnic Area

For an easy walk, with multiple views, head to the Arch Rock Picnic Area, where you’ll be treated to views of more sea stacks and a natural arched rock! There’s a short looped path on a rocky headland, which gives you views in all directions!

There’s also a restroom here as well if you need one during your road trip. The majority of the stops listed above do not have any restrooms.

Check out some pullouts, viewpoints, and overlooks

Southern Oregon Coast

After leaving the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, the next stretch of the drive up the 101 is loaded with pullouts and viewpoints, where you can simply stop to just admire the view, have a picnic, or hang out at the beach.

Here are some of our favorite pull outs along this stretch of the drive!

Gold Beach

Next on your southern Oregon coast journey is Gold Beach, the gateway to the Rogue River. Gold Beach is located at the mouth of the Rogue River and there are tons of fun opportunities to experience the river from Gold Beach. 

Things to do in Gold Beach

  • Rip down the Rogue River on a jet boat with Jerry’s Rogue Jets.
  • Go on a whitewater rafting trip, a flat water paddle, or paddle through the gorgeous Copper Canyon of the Rogue River with South Coast Tours
  • Backpack along the Rogue River Trail, which is a 37.1 mile (round trip) hike that takes you along the Rogue River (no coastal views here!) and has various lodges along the way that you can eat at and sleep at. 

Where to eat

Otter Point State Recreation Site

Otter Point is a region of sandstone bluffs and the best way to see it is to hike the Otter Point Trail, which is 0.5 miles and takes you to Otter Point, where you can admire the coastal views, plus tons of rocks in the water.

For the extra adventurous, you can hike down to the beach from here, but it is steep and requires some assistance from ropes. We haven’t personally done this, so we can’t speak to the conditions.

Sisters Rocks State Park

Sisters Rocks State Park | Southern Oregon Coast

The biggest surprise (and favorite stop) during our most recent southern Oregon road trip goes to Sisters Rocks State Park!

Sisters Rocks State Park is a newer state park in Oregon and is named after two huge monoliths attached to the mainland, plus one offshore, named Sisters Rocks. 

But before this became a state park, the area was home to some interesting history. Back in 1893 a California businessman named S. H. Frank developed the site into a local shipping point for his large tannery in Redwood City. It was called Frankport and was used by him until 1901, and later used by others as a shipping port, before eventually being purchased by the Oregon Parks and Rec Department. You can still see some of the remains of the village today, but the real star of the show are the Sisters Rocks!

Sisters Rocks State Park | Southern Oregon Coast

To get to the rocks, you will park at a large parking area (you can also park a bit more north up the road too!) and then take a path (about 1 mile round trip) that leads through the brush toward the two massive rock structures. 

The views along this short hike are stunning! It reminded us of our time on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, with all of the green, rockiness, and coastal views. And there is a lot to see and explore once you get to the bottom as well, including a beach with striking blue water, sweeping views of the coast, both north and south, plus a very cool sea cave to check out! 

This sea cave can be found at the base of the larger of the two main sisters and is only viewable at low tide, which is definitely the best time to visit this park, as much more of it is accessible to explore. During low tide, you’ll be able to watch water from the ocean slosh into the cave, hitting the many rocks and splashing everywhere. It is incredibly cool! 

Sisters Rocks State Park | Southern Oregon Coast

It’s hard to explain, but something about the scenery here just stood out from the rest of the Southern Oregon Coast and we both agreed that it was our favorite stop of the drive. We almost skipped it due to being tired, but we are so glad we didn’t!

Humbug Mountain State Park

Just a few miles south of the town of Port Orford is one of the Oregon coast’s highest headlands, Humbug Mountain at 1,765 above sea level.

As you’re driving, you’ll see Humbug Mountain from miles away from either direction and in the park there is a popular campground, beautiful trails, as well as access to the beach, with the most popular thing to do being the Humbug Mountain Loop Trail!

Miles (roundtrip): 5.6
Elevation (feet): 1,784
Reviews & Current Conditions

The Humbug Mountain Loop Trail travels through Douglas Fir forests to the highest point on the Oregon coast. You won’t have views the entire time, but will have some peek-a-boo views of the ocean and more expansive views at the top!

Port Orford

Cape Blanco State Park | Southern Oregon Coast

Port Orford is the next town along the Southern Oregon Coast and is home to a couple great state parks, plus restaurants!

Port Orford Heads State Park

Port Orford Heads State Park is the former site of the Port Orford Lifeboat Station, which was built by the Coast Guard in 1934 and used until 1970. The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and you can tour the Crew Quarters, which is a museum, plus see the 36 foot unsinkable motor lifeboat.

Another spot to check out in the park is the Port Orford Heads Trail, which is a 1.2 mile (round trip) hike that takes you around the headland to get different views of the surrounding area.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse | Southern Oregon Coast

Cape Blanco State Park

Cape Blanco State Park is located at the western most tip of the state. It has a historic lighthouse, historic ranch home, gorgeous beaches with unique rock formations off the coast, a river, and a very nice campground! While in the park we suggest checking out:

  • The Cape Blanco Lighthouse, which is 59 feet tall and is the oldest standing lighthouse on the Oregon coast, built in 1870. It’s built 245 feet above the sea and is visible to ships from 22 miles away! If you’d like to go inside, tours cost $2 for adults (free for those under 15) and are offered on Wednesdays-Mondays from April 1-October 31 between 10 AM-3:30 PM. 
  • Tour the Hughes Historic House. This land was settled by an Irishman named Patrick Hughes in the late 1800s, who set up a large dairy farm and built a large ranch complex, and this house is the only building left. Tours are offered on Wednesdays-Mondays from May 1-September 30, between 10 AM-3:30 PM and are free, but donations are helpful to maintain the home and help fund restoration.
  • Hike the Mouth of the Sixes Trail, which is an easy 1.8 mile stroll through a cow pasture and along the Sixes River at the northern end of the park, before ending at Sixes Beach.
  • Admire Needle Rock, which is a popular landmark close to the lighthouse. You can view it from near the lighthouse parking area!

Where to eat in Port Orford

Bandon

Wizard Hat | Southern Oregon Coast

Bandon is the final stop on this Southern Oregon Coast road trip and it’s a pretty epic finale!

Bandon sits at the mouth of the Coquille River and is home to amazing ocean views, charming shops and restaurants, a historic lighthouse, thriving arts scene, and lots of outdoor recreation activities, like hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, and one of Adam’s favorite activities, golfing at one of the most spectacular golf courses in the world!

Face Rock | Southern Oregon Coast

Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint

One of the most popular spots in Bandon is Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, which has a variety of uniquely shaped sea stacks, all named after what they resemble. There is Face Rock, which looks like a face, plus Wizard’s Hat, Cat and Kittens Rock, and many more!

The parking lot (which does have a bathroom!) has an overlook that gives you a great overview of the whole area and you can also walk a pathway down to the beach to get a closer look!

Photo by Ethan Grey on Unsplash

Circles in the Sand

One really neat thing to see at Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint are Circles in the Sand, also known as Walking Labyrinths, which are gorgeous designs drawn into the sand everyday with the intent to share love, joy, and kindness. 

These labyrinth designs were first created by artist Denny Dyke who created them for his own walking meditations. During specific dates from mid-April until early-August, the designs are drawn freehand and once they are complete they are open for about 2 hours (or until the tide washes them away) for people to come and walk the path. 

We unfortunately did not get to see this during our visit due to when we visited, but it looks incredible! 

Bandon, Oregon | Southern Oregon Coast

Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

The Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge at Coquille Point is one of our favorite places to go in Bandon! This area is home to amazing sea stacks and rock islands, and depending on the season you visit, lots of birds, including tufted puffins, murres, cormorants, and petrels.

This park has a couple different areas to explore. You can take a staircase down to the beach, where you can wander among the rock formations, watch the waves crash into them, and if you’re like us, see some seals!

Bandon, Oregon | Southern Oregon Coast

Up at the top of the park, right by the parking area, there are some pathways along the cliffside, with information boards about the local birds and the area. There’s also a really cool puffin sculpture made out of trash plucked from the sea! This sculpture is part of a project called Washed Ashore, which creates art to educate people about plastic pollution in the ocean and waterways. 

Bandon, Oregon | Southern Oregon Coast

Stroll around Old Town Bandon

Bandon’s historic district includes 10 blocks of shopping, dining (see our suggestions below), history, art, and culture right on the Coquille River! While walking around, make sure to check out Cranberry Sweets & More (Bandon is the cranberry capital of Oregon!) and visit the free Washed Ashore gallery to see more of the art they have created from trash. 

Bullards Beach State Park 

Just north of Bandon, on the other side of the Coquille River, is Bullards Beach State Park

While in the park you can camp, go for a stroll or ride your bike along the 4.5 miles of Bullards Beach, and visit the Coquille River Lighthouse. The Coquille River Lighthouse’s signal room can be toured Thursday-Monday 11 AM-5 PM and is staffed by volunteers who will share the history of the area. 

Devils Kitchen

One spot we haven’t visited yet in Bandon is the Devil’s Kitchen State Park Vista Point. Similar to many spots on this guide, this area includes a nice beach area, plus some large rocks, and we hear that even when busy, you can still find plenty of space to spread out.

Tee it up at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort

We know this one isn’t for everyone, but it’s very high on Adam’s list so we had to mention it!

The sandy soil and rugged coastline of Oregon is a perfect canvas for one of the premier golf resorts in the world, Bandon Dunes. The course is created with a lot of inspiration and similarities from Scotland, the home of golf, and its magnificent courses.

The resort includes 6 unique courses that are built in harmony with the natural environment, as opposed to creating the courses from scratch, like many courses in the US are. As they say at Bandon Dunes, “this is golf as it was meant to be!”

It definitely is not a cheap course and is way outside of our golf budget, but it looks like an incredible experience and one day we hope to experience it for ourselves.

Bandon Fish Market | Southern Oregon Coast

Where to eat in Bandon

Bandon Fish Market (we highly recommend their fish and chips!)
Tony’s Crab Shack
Angelo’s Italy
Pablo’s Corner
Bandon Coffee Cafe

3 Day Southern Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Sisters Rocks State Park | Southern Oregon Coast

While you could spend less time on the Southern Oregon Coast and still see tons of amazing scenery just from quick pullouts and stops, three days feels like the perfect amount of time to knock out a bunch of items on this guide, especially some hikes, without feeling too rushed.

Note: This itinerary is in order from south to north (which is what we did on our latest visit), but you can easily reverse it if starting in the north!

Day 1

  1. Grab coffee and breakfast in Brookings and then hit the road! We’d suggest getting as early of a start as possible!
  2. Explore Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor! We especially recommend Whaleshead Beach, Natural Bridges, Secret Beach, and Arch Rock.
  3. Visit the overlooks as you drive north towards Gold Beach.
  4. Head to Otter Point for sunset.
  5. Grab dinner in Gold Beach.
  6. Stay the night in Gold Beach or backtrack to Brookings if needed.

Day 2

  1. Start the morning with breakfast at Indian Creek Cafe in Gold Beach.
  2. Check out Sisters Rocks State Park and if it’s low tide, go see the sea cave!
  3. Hike the Humbug Mountain Loop Trail.
  4. Visit Port Orford Heads State Park and stay for sunset!
  5. Stay the night in Port Orford.

Day 3

  1. Start the morning with breakfast at The Honey House Cafe.
  2. Head to Cape Blanco State Park and check out the lighthouse.
  3. Spend the rest of the day in Bandon! If visiting during Circles in the Sand, try to stop by first thing, as it’s only up for a couple hours. After that, we suggest walking around town, grabbing a coffee at Bandon Coffee Cafe, getting lunch at Bandon Fish Market, going to Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, and exploring the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

Ready to explore the Southern Oregon Coast?

Pin this Southern Oregon Coast road trip guide to help plan your trip!

about us

Hi y’all! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream (we’re a 5+ taco and 2+ scoop household), and enjoying nature.

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