Today we drove to Coos Bay to check things out. I think we had driven through Coos Bay one time but we had no recollection of it.
Umpqua River Lighthouse
Just north of Coos Bay, we saw the turn to Umpqua Lighthouse and pulled in to investigate. When we saw the lighthouse we remembered that we had been here on a previous trip. this lighthouse has Coast Gueard housing that is still in use, along with a museum and an observation deck for whaLe watching.
We spent a little time here and took a few photos before moving on.
As you approach Coos Bay on Hwy 101, you cross the bay on the historic Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge. The bridge is pretty amazing, as are so may of these historic bridges on the Oregon Coast.
The first impression of Coos Bay is that is is predominantly an industrial area with a seaport. Entering the area, there is a large mill and shipping yards on in the bay.
We drove around in Coos Bay a bit. There is a Natural Grocers store in Coos Bay, which is the first store other than a Safeway we have seen since leaving Boise, so we stopped there to pick up a few items. The residential areas vary drastically between the north end and the south end of this town. There is a small older downtown area, but we did not see anything as far as newer growth.
We explored the residential areas a bit before heading south to what we thought would take us to Shore Acres State Park. That turned into an adventure, turns out we were supposed to turn off at mid-town Coos Bay to access that area. This is an illustration of how things were before we became reliant on internet , which is almost non-existant in the Florence area, to research and plan. What were those things called? Oh yeah, a map.
Shore Acres State Park
This state park was a great surprise. We had no idea it was there before this trip. There are actually three state parks in very close proximity to each other. You could easily walk from one to the other, however, not being familiar with the area we did walkabouts at each and drove between them, .
Shore Acres State Park is in the center of the three and has the Botanical Gardens as well as some really interesting coastline. The gardens and coastline in this park were originally a private estate from the early 1900s, more info HERE. The rugged sandstone cliffs there are unusual to what we have seen elsewhere on the Oregon Coast. The photos in the link below fail miserably to capture the interesting formations in the stone.
Sunset Bay State Park lies just to the north of Shore Acres. The fascinating coastline continues here with more trails to the beach and viewpoints. There is a pullout along the road near here where the Cape Arago Lighthouse can be seen. The lighthouse is on an island and has no public access.
Cape Arago State Park is immediately to the south of shore Acres. Along the road to the park there is a pullout at Simpson Reef Wildlife Viewpoint. The viewpoint was a total surprise. There were hundreds of seals and sea lions on the reef. They were also swimming all over the reef area.
At Cape Arago State Park we walked down to a really nice beach. We saw several people with surf boards in the parking area. There was not much surf at that beach, and overheard some talking about spear fishing. We did however see one individual go out on a surfboard for what appeared to be just floating around in the cove.
We really enjoyed the entire area. It is always fun to come across a surprise when exploring new areas. Coos Bay was interesting to see, but clearly the highlight of the day was the state parks.