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A travel blog covering living, working, volunteering and travelling in over 90 countries

Spectacular stops along the Oregon Coast Highway

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Siletz Bay Park

Siletz Bay Park

Silitz Bay Park

Just to the south of Lincoln City is Silitz Bay Park. The car park has a great view over the bay, and the small chain of islands leading away from the coast.

Like most of even the tiniest parks that lay just off Highway 101, it has useful information signs and a restroom. These restrooms vary between brick or wooden huts with a full set of toilets and plumbing, to the more basic long-drop port-a-potty design. No matter the style, they’re always clean and well stocked.

Seal Rock State Wayside Park

Seal Rock State Wayside Park

Seal Rock

Travelling south from Newport, one of the largest rock formations noticeable near the shore is called Seal Rocks. The Seal Rocks parallel the shore for about 2.5 miles, ending with the largest rock, called…yep…Seal Rock.

The name comes from the pidgin trade language of the Pacific Northwest, called Chinook Jargon. The rocks are resting place for hundreds of seals, so they called it Seal Illahe, which unsurprisingly means Seal Rock. Despite all this, we couldn’t see or hear any seals…

Devil's Churn

Devil’s Churn

Devil’s Churn

This small inlet near Cape Perpetua formed over thousands of years, to become a deep cave into the basalt cliff. Eventually the roof collapsed, creating a funnel effect that channels waves and throws spray several hundred feet into the air.

North Bend Bridge

North Bend Bridge

North Bend Bridge

As Highway 101 passes alongside the Oregon Dunes National Park, the landscape on the coastal side changes from lush green trees to sandy dunes.

Roughly in the middle is the town of North Bend, home to the Coquille tribe. It’s easy to recognise when you’re in the area as there’s a huge estuary, spanned by the Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge, formerly the Coos Bay Bridge.

When completed in 1936 it was the longest and most expensive of the eleven major Highway 101 bridges in Oregon.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Horsfall Beach

One of the more southern beaches in the 47-mile long Oregon Dunes National Park, Horsfall is exactly how I imagined an American wilderness beach. A wooden walkway leads visitors over the grassy tufts to a clean white beach, strewn with driftwood and even a rotting ship.

Horsfall Beach

Horsfall Beach

Judging by the contents of the car park, the beach is also popular with quad bikers and horse riders. Like most remote state parks there is no fee for using the park, but there is a $5 payment for parking.

There’s a secure post box with little envelopes. Put the money inside an envelope, tear off the label to display in the car window and post the remaining envelope in the post box. Walking through the car park we seemed to be in the minority that bothered to pay.

Umpqua River Lighthouse

Umpqua River Lighthouse

Umpqua River Lighthouse

The first lighthouse at the entrance to Winchester Bay was built in 1855, but had a major design flaw. ..it was below the high water mark. This annual flooding weakened the foundations enough that it collapsed within 10 years.

The current lighthouse was built in 1892, this time 30m above the river. The new spot is opposite a large whale watching platform.

Sunset Bay

Sunset Bay

Sunset Bay State Park

A huge crescent shaped bay, with a flat sandy beach flanked by pine trees. One of the many moments in Oregon I wished we were driving an RV and could have stopped and waited for the sunset.

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Author

Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

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