Southern Oregon Coast
Recently we discovered that some friends from our years living in the Palm Springs area of southern California had purchased a second home in Gold Beach, Oregon. They have a custom ceramics business and spend much of the year traveling to various art festivals mostly on the west coast selling their wares. To escape the heat, they decided to spend half the year in a much cooler locale. It was high time to catch up with them and take the opportunity to discover the southern Oregon Coast along the way.
We live in a rather central location in Oregon conveniently located just off the I-5 corridor. From Eugene we can easily head to the mountains, the desert, or the ocean which is just one hour and 15 minutes directly west to the city of Florence. We have ventured that direction many times. It may sound enticing, but reality is — when you get there, it’s very difficult to find the beach. You will find rocky shores or sand dunes with some effort, but no place you can really park your beach chair and soak up the sun for the day. If you have any prior beach experience i.e. California-style… you will declare, “This is NOT the beach!” You have to head north or south and even then it’s a challenge.
I was determined to find an inviting place for this southerly adventure where we could enjoy the scenery and views for a bit en route to our friends. After some research, I chose Shore Acres State Park near Coos Bay and though it was a bit off the beaten path, we were not disappointed. This property was once the estate of timber baron, Louis J. Simpson and extended to Cape Arago and Sunset Beach. The latter is now the home of Sunset Bay State Park which which we passed by on our Highway 101 “detour” to Shore Acres. We were thrilled to see that it hosts a “real” sandy beach surrounded by grassy lawns, picnic tables, and many camping opportunities… if only there were a Marriott. Nevertheless, it’s definitely a future adventure destination for us.
Shore Acres is a combination of mansion and formal gardens with rugged cliffs overlooking an ever-churning ocean. The mansion is now an observation building for those cold, blustery days (of which there are many!) when you couldn’t possibly stand outside to enjoy the view. Fortunately, we were afforded a gorgeous day. There are hiking trails in both directions along the coast offering some spectacular vistas. The unique formation of the huge rocks jutting out from beneath the waves is really intriguing.
In the formal garden area, you can enjoy a very well-maintained Japanese-style garden with a lily pond…
Such variety in plantings produces an abundance of blooms all year round. We encountered a team of gardeners who told us it’s a non-stop job taking care of this place. I can just imagine!
We loved this giant, craggy tree root that has been left along one of the trails. It immediately became a jungle gym for a group of children who arrived shortly after we did. It was delightful to see them use their imaginations to turn it into a magical playground.
The rugged geography of this location reminds me very much of Point Lobos in Monterey, California… minus those iconic Monterey Cypress of course. However, there’s plenty of other local Oregon vegetation to set off the beauty and offer a myriad of photo ops.
While we didn’t make it down there to that beach, it was such a pleasure exploring this area and experiencing the draw of the ocean. Peace and tranquility at its best!