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Itineraries for Travel Along the Oregon / California Coast

 

The area from Eureka, CA to north of Reedsport, OR is about 240 miles and could be traveled in about five hours. However, there is so much to see and do in the area, that you will want to take much longer. As one visitor from Switzerland said:

 

"we were in 'heaven'. You might know that a lot of people rave about the 'Garden Route' in South Africa. Well, the scenic drive between Eureka and Bandon is THE MOST SENIC DRIVE I ever took! One of the best kept secrets in the world which we need to make available to everyone!"

 

Traveling from South to North - Towards Portland and Seattle (click here)

 

If traveling towards the north, towards Portland, click here.

 

Traveling from North to South - Towards San Francisco

(see below)

         

If you are heading south, towards San Francisco, then here are itineraries for you (below):

 

Driving South Towards San Francisco

 

Part 1 Arriving at Reedsport

 

The first town is Reedsport, the heart of the amazing Oregon Dunes. Plan on a stop at the the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Visitors Center at the intersection of OR 38 and US Highway 101.

Side Trips

•Stop at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing
Area
, just east of Reedsport, along OR 38.
•Consider stopping at the Umpqua Discovery Center.
•Schedule a fishing trip with one of the many fishing guides located in Reedsport or Winchester Bay.

 

Part 2 Reedsport to Coos Bay

 

Drive south onUS Highway 101 towards Winchester Bay.
Turn into Winchester Bay and explore this small fishing community, the quaint restaurants and the shops along the harbor. Drive through the harbor onto Salmon Harbor Drive by the Umpqua Lighthouse (plan for a tour) and the ocean views, back out onto US Route 101 South. Continue south to North Bend / Coos Bay.

 

Distance: 30 miles (48 km), 50 minutes


View Larger Map

 

Side Trips

 

•Consider a side trip out to Lakeside.


•Stop by any one of the ATV centers, receive a quick lesson from the helpful employees, and head out on an ATV into the Oregon Dunes. The dunes are magnificent and this is the only way to see them (unless you have a horse). Hiking is possible but tedious in sand. Even if you have never ridden an ATV before, rent one. Solo, tandem or in a larger group.

 

Where to Stay

 

Reedsport has several hotels / motels. Winchester Bay is quite small, but there are a couple of hotels there. North Bend / Coos Bay is the largest community on the coast and has several hotels, mostly at the southern end of the drive through town. Or, if it is still early enough in the day, head onto Bandon (but don't miss Charleston!). There are a wide selection of RV Parks and campgrounds north of Coos Bay and near Charleston.

 

Part 3 Coos Bay / Charleston to Port Orford and Gold Beach

 

After North Bend / Coos Bay, follow the signs out to Charleston to explore a part of the coast that those in a hurry will miss. Spend some time in the harbor area and explore the restaurants and fish markets. Then head south out of town towards Shore Acres, Cape Arago Lighthouse and Cape Arago State Park.

Backtrack to Charleston, turn a hard right on 7 Devils Road and follow
it out to US 101. Continue south on US 101 into Bandon. Park your car downtown and explore Old Town Bandon and wander along the docks. If you did not pick up lunch in Charleston, this is the place to do so.

 

After lunch, head south. If you are still hungry, stop in the Langolois General Store and pick up a famous hot dog. Head down into the small quaint town of Port Orford (see side trips, below).

After Port Orford, drive south towards Gold Beach being certain to stop at several of the roadside parking lots to enjoy the view.

 

Distance: 100 miles (160 km), 2 hours and 45 minutes.


View Larger Map

 

Side Trips

 

•For bird lovers, there is Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Bandon.


Coquille River Lighthouse is in Bullards Beach State Park, just across the river from Bandon.


South Slough National Estuary Reserve is on the way to Charleston.

 

•Perhaps the best lighthouse on this part of the coast is the Cape Blanco Lighthouse. While there, explore the Hughes House.


•Take a right turn on 9th street in Port Orford, then turn left and go up the steep hill to Port Orford Heads and the former Coast Guard Station.


•Stop in Port Orford at Battle Rock or take a turn down into the port area to see what the fishing boats look like out of water in one of the more unusual harbors.


•Pull into the Mount Humbug Campground or Arizona Beach and take a quick little hike under the highway and out to a secluded beach.

 

•Just before Gold Beach, take a right turn onto Old Coast Road and visit Otter Point (a five minute level hike is required for the view).


•See the wreck of the Mary D. Hume in the Port of Gold Beach.


•Plan on spending half the day or longer in Gold Beach for an exciting jet boat trip up the Rogue River.

 

Where to Stay

 

Bandon has several very nice hotels, some near Old Town, others further south along the coast with ocean views. Port Orford has a small hotel and a unique charming "Guest Habitat", while Gold Beach has several motels with views of the ocean or the Rogue River.

 

There are RV parks and campgrounds near Charleston, just north of Bandon, at Cape Blanco and along the Rogue River near Gold Beach.

 

Part 4 Gold Beach to Brookings and onto Crescent City

 

From Gold Beach, continue south on US Route 101.


Visit the top of Cape Sebastian, just a few miles south of town. Continue south through Pistol River, one of the most photographed sections of the coast, and onto the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Be certain to stop at Arch Rock and the Natural Bridge.

 

Continue through Brookings and, immediately after crossing the Chetco River, turn right for

 

a loop around Harbor, then back out to US 101. Continue south and say goodbye to Oregon and enter California. Turn left on CA Route 197, then left onto US Route 199, then right onto Howland Road and drive through Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. Exit the park, turn left and back out to US Route 101.

 

Distance: 70 miles (110 km), 2 hours


View Larger Map

 

Side Trips

•If you are up for a 15 minute hike, stop at Thunder Rock Cove.


•For drivers, plan a detour to Whales Head Beach, Lone Ranch Beach or Harris Beach State Park.

 

 

 

•While in Crescent City, take a drive out along the coast for views of the harbor, ocean and two lighthouses.

 

Where to Stay

 

Brookings / Harbor has several hotels / motels out on US Route 101 and a few down near the water in Harbor.

 

Crescent City has several hotels in town and more towards the south.

 

There is tent and RV camping along the Chetco in Brookings / Harbor and in the redwoods near Crescent City.

 

Part 5 Crescent City - Klamath to Eureka - Arcata - McKinleyville

 

Prior to leaving Crescent City, be certain to stop by the Redwoods Information Center.

 

From here south, it is (almost) all about the redwoods. Stay on US 101 and head south. The advantage of staying on US 101 is the additional scenery further south, and the Redwoods, especially the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. This parkway runs parallel to US Route 101. Driving through does not add to the time or distance of your trip, unless you end up pulling over to enjoy the scenery. It is highly recommended.

 

Stay on US 101 and cross the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. Or follow one of the other roads over to I-5 as shown on the map below.

 

Side Trips

 

•Stop at the Redwoods National Park Visitors Center near Orick and get a hiking pass to the Lady Bird Johnson Redwood Grove.


•Prior to McKinleyville, stop at the Stone Lagoon Visitors Center.

 

•Visit Clam Beach County Park just outside of Arcata - McKinleyville.

 

•South of Eureka, visit the cute town of Ferndale. "Ferndale: A perfectly preserved Victorian dairy village that has barely changed in the last 100 years." "Magical piece of far Northwestern California."

 

 

 

Where to Stay

 

All three towns have an ample supply of motels.

 

 

Driving North Towards Portland and Seattle

 

 

 

Part 1 - Eureka - Arcata - McKinleyville to Crescent City - Klamath

 

 

Eureka - Arcata - McKinleyville are the gateway to the northern California coast (see above map).

 

From here to Crescent City, it is (almost) all about the redwoods. Stay on US 101 and head north. Be sure to exit US 101 and drive the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. This parkway runs parallel to US Route 101. Driving through does not add to the time or distance of your trip, unless you end up pulling over to enjoy the scenery. It is highly recommended.

 

Be certain to budget enough time for the views around Crescent City with the redwoods, lighthouses and ocean views. There is not a whole lot to see between Crescent City and Brookings, so one can spend the night in either area. Brookings/Harbor might have a better selection of restaurants.

 

Side Trips

 

•South of Eureka, visit the cute town of Ferndale. "Ferndale: A perfectly preserved Victorian dairy village that has barely changed in the last 100 years." "Magical piece of far Northwestern California."

 

•Visit Clam Beach County Park just outside of Arcata - McKinleyville.

 

•Prior to McKinleyville, stop at the Stone Lagoon Visitors Center.

 

•Stop at the Redwoods National Park Visitors Center near Orick and get a hiking pass to the Lady Bird Johnson Redwood Grove.

 

•While in Crescent City, take a driveCrescent City Lighthouse out along the coast for views of the harbor, ocean and two lighthouses.


•If it is before 5 PM, just south of town on US Route 101 is a traffic light for Elk Valley Road. Turn east, then turn right onto Howland Hill Road through Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park (a well maintained dirt road). Enjoy your drive through the park. On leaving, drive to the end, then turn left onto US 199 and return to Crescent City. Or if you have completed your Crescent City visit, turn left on US 199 and turn right on OR 197 until it ends. Turn right on US 101, and continue north towards Brookings.

 

 

View Larger Map

 

Where to Stay

 

Crescent City has several hotels in town and more towards the south. There is camping and RV spots along the Chetco in Brookings / Harbor and camping near and in the redwoods near Crescent City.

 

If not staying in Crescent City, then Brookings / Harbor has several hotels / motels out on US Route 101 and a few down near the water in Harbor. Brookings is about 25 miles to the north.

 

Part 2 Crescent City or Brookings onto Gold Beach - Port Orford

 

From Crescent City, head north on US Route 101. If you have not already seen the Redwoods at Jedediah Smith State Park, do so before you leave. Cross into Oregon where there is a visitors center on the left, just after the boarder.

 

Prior to entering Brookings, turn left at a traffic light onto West Benham Lane and travel through Harbor. Optionally, there is a left at the Best Western, to drive out to the boat basin and a view of the ocean and back. Continue around Harbor. If you are ready for lunch, there are several excellent small restaurants in Harbor.

 

On leaving Harbor, turn left to go under US Route 101, then right at a stop sign, to return on 101 north. Cross the Chetco River and drive through Brookings.

cape sebastian view north towards the town of Gold Beach

Continue into the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. This portion of the drive is one of the most scenic in the world. Be certain to stop at Natural Bridge and Arch Rock.

 

Continue north through Pistol River, one of the most photographed sections of the coast. If the weather is good, visit the top of Cape Sebastian, which is a must see. Continue north into Gold Beach.

Distance: 55 miles (90 km), just over 1 hour


View Larger Map

 

Side Trips

•For drivers, plan a detour to Harris Beach State Park, Lone Ranch Beach, or Whales Head Beach.


•If you are up for a 15 minute hike, stop at Thunder Rock Cove.

thunder rock cove photograph
jet boat on the Rogue River

•Plan on spending half the day or longer in Gold Beach for an exciting jet boat trip up the Rogue River.


•See the wreck of the Mary D. Hume in the Port of Gold Beach.


•Drive east from Gold Beach to visit the tiny town of Agness.

 

Where to Stay

 

There is tent and RV camping along the Chetco in Brookings / Harbor and at Harris Beach. There are several hotels in Brookings and Harbor.

 

Gold Beach offers several hotels / motels. There is ample public RV and tent camping near Port Orford and several private RV campground near Gold Beach.

 

Port Orford (which is about 25 miles to the north of Gold Beach) has a small hotel and a unique charming "Guest Habitat".

 

Part 3 Gold Beach - Port Orford to Bandon

 

After Gold Beach, continue north on US Route 101. Drive north and look out at the beach at Ophir to look for whales. Continue north up around Mount Humbug, then burst out into the open just south of Port Orford and enjoy the view. North of Port Orford, the road swings away from the coast. Note the cranberry bogs along the road.


Just south of Bandon, turn left onto Beach Loop Road (see the map for details) and follow to 7th, then onto 4th, then left onto Edison and follow to 1st street. Park and enjoy Old Town Bandon. If you did not stop in Langolois at the market, then this is the place to eat lunch.

 

Distance: 57 miles (92 km), 1.5 hours


View Larger Map

 

Side Trips

 

•Just north of Gold Beach, take a left turn onto Old Coast Road and visit Otter Point (a five minute easy hike is required for the view).


•Pull into the Mount Humbug Campground or Arizona Beach and take a quick little hike under the highway and out to a secluded beach.


•Stop in Port Orford at Battle Rock or take a turn down into the port area to see what the fishing boats look like out of water in one of the more unusual harbors.

 

Cape Blanco Lighthouse photo

•Take a left turn on 9th street in Port Orford, then turn left and go up the steep hill to Port Orford Heads and the former Coast Guard Station.


•Perhaps the best lighthouse on this part of the coast is the Cape Blanco Lighthouse. While there, explore the Hughes House.

 

 

Where to Stay

 

Bandon has several very nice hotels, some near Old Town, others further south along the coast with ocean views.

 

There are RV Parks around Bandon and Bullards Beach State Park, a few minutes north, has RV and tent camping.

 

Part 4 Bandon to Coos Bay - Charleston

 

After Bandon, head north on US Route 101. Oregon Bay Area sign


After a little more than 9 miles, turn left onto West Beaver Hill Road and follow the signs to Charleston. W Beaver Hill becomes 7 Devils Road. Just prior to entering Charleston, turn a hard left onto Cape Arago Highway and follow it until it ends, stopping along the way to enjoy the sights.

 

Backtrack to Charleston and visit the working harbor. There are several good places to eat in Charleston. Continue through Charleston on Cape Arago Highway and follow it into Coos Bay / North Bend. Cape Arago Highway becomes Newmark Highway and ends on US Route 101.

 

Distance: 43 miles (70 km, 1.5 hours)


View Larger Map

 

Side Trips

photo of bald eagle

South Slough National Estuary Reserve is on the way to Charleston.


•For bird lovers, there is Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Bandon

.
Coquille River Lighthouse is in Bullards Beach State Park, just across the river.

 

Where to Stay

 

North Bend / Coos Bay is the largest community on the coast and has several hotels, mostly at the southern end of the drive through town. There are a wide selection of RV Parks and campgrounds spread through the area.

 

Part 5 Coos Bay to Winchester Bay - Reedsport

 

Drive north of Coos Bay / North Bend andcross the bay. You are now enteringATV riding just north of Coos Bay the Oregon Dunes. No matter your age or expertise, it is worthwhile to rent an ATV from one of the many helpful area suppliers to see the dunes.

 


Winchester Bay Lighthouse

Drive north and then turn left onto Lighthouse Road, just south of Winchester Bay.

 

Just prior to this turn is an overlook on US Route 101 that offers a great view of the dunes. After visiting the area around the lighthouse, drive down through Winchester Bay. There are several restaurants to eat lunch.

 

Continue back out to US Route 101 and north to Reedsport. Reedsport also has many excellent restaurants.

 


View Larger Map

 

Side Trips

dunes near Reedsport

•Schedule a fishing trip with one of the many fishing guides located in Reedsport or Winchester Bay.
•Stop at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Visitors Center at the intersection of OR 38 and US Highway 101.

•Consider stopping at the Umpqua Discovery Center.Dean Creek Elk viewing


•Visit the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, just east to Reedsport.


Where to Stay

Most of the hotels / motels are located in Reedsport although there are a couple in Winchester Bay.

There are a large number of RV and campgrounds in the area of the Oregon Dunes.

 

After Reedsport

Either head back over to I-5 via OR-38, which is a scenic and fairly easy drive, or continue north along US Route 101 along the coast. If heading north along US Route 101, please keep in mind that the traffic congestion picks up further north, but there are several nice views and towns. For those in a hurry, I-5 is the way to go.