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Scenic Intrigue of Bandon, Where South Oregon Coast Gets Layered

Published 10/04/22 at 7:14 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Scenic Intrigue of Bandon, Where South Oregon Coast Gets Layered

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(Bandon, Oregon) – If you think that tourism and having loads of fun are all that there is to the south Oregon coast burgh of Bandon, you're in for a surprise. There's more levels to this place than you may imagine. It's like a raucous, wild video game: play around in one area for awhile and you'll soon discover there's more to it – much more to it. (Photo courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

Interesting strata lurks here: from nature aspects and spots you may not know of to deeper tales from its long history. Bandon by the Sea (as the old saying goes)? It's more like Bandon With More to See.

What's In a Name in Bandon?

Oh, the intrigue and complexities of rock names in Bandon. The south Oregon coast town really only has Face Rock as an officially listed name, with that one being really well known. Other than that and its “Cat and Kittens” rocks, there is nothing positively identifiable as a single name, nothing that is official with the city or even Oregon State Parks. Even famed Howling Dog Rock and Wizards Hat Rock are in a state of confusion, with various locals and various maps saying different things.

The Castle, see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Oregon Coast Beach Connection stepped into the middle of that last year with no small amount of controversy.

However, Howling Dog and Wizards Hat do have considerable evidence about which one is which, found in the article here.

People on social media confuse these all the time, and that's not surprising. Howling Dog winds up looking like Wizards Hat if you look at it from the north, and the two are far enough apart that a lot of times all the visitor sees is one.

Many of the other rock structures along Bandon's Face Rock area have names as well, at least for now. Again, these aren't official, but opinions tend to lean in one direction on them so that there is a bit of a consensus. Among them is The Castle, which understandably looks like a castle.

Photo courtesy Bandon History Museum

There's also “Cave of the Winds,” which the Bandon History Museum has talked of but it's not a name you find other places online.

Face Rock, and the Cat and Kittens have been around a long time. There are old postcards from early in the century showing those. However, the rock structures around Bandon seem to change names every few decades, as per this shot provided by the museum. It indicates the “Lion and the Monkey” here, but those names don't show up these days.

Indeed, a 1907 article from the Bandon Recorder talks about names like Monk Rock, Chums Rocks, Dragon, Cub and Nun Rock - none of which hold today. They're lost to history.

Whiskey Run

Whiskey Run Beach, see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Bandon's beaches are vast and seemingly endless. It's difficult to see them end, except for the bay mouth.

Among these delights is Whiskey Run Beach, a ways north of town, running below the golf resort. To get there takes a little work on your rig, with Whiskey Run Lane slowly twisting and winding its dusty way from 101 to this somewhat hidden tract of beach.

Unlike the center of town, there's no major rocky spires, but plenty of oddball rocky wonders in the cliffs. It feels like an alien planet at times. Other rocky spots host tidepools and vast splashes of intricate color. With miles of beach on either side, sometimes with great lengths between accesses, it makes for magnificent hiking. See Whiskey Run Beach Near Bandon a Subtle Wild Card on South Oregon Coast 

Puffins of Bandon

Photo courtesy Ram Pampish

Did you know Bandon can really show off a lot of tufted puffins at times?

Haystack Rock up in Cannon Beach may be closer and more populated, but Bandon's Face Rock plays host to the adorable “flapping footballs” every spring, where they breed. They raise their young offshore on the ancient landmark, and just about every year there's an event where volunteers help you spot them.

They've also been known to congregate on Bandon's Coquille Point, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). A little farther north, you can spot them near Coos Bay in the spring and summer at Simspon Reef.

Bandon's Coquille Lighthouse

Courtesy Oregon State Parks

One resilient south Oregon coast structure, one heckuva lot of tales to tell.

Bandon's Coquille Lighthouse has had numerous adventures since it started its run in 1896. Its second day in operation, a snow storm hit and the lightkeepers had to utilize its foghorn almost immediately.

Several years later, a schooner that had been abandoned floated out of control and actually rammed the lighthouse, damaging it a tad. In 1916, town leaders drew up plans to actually move the lighthouse, but that effort was soon dropped.

When the Great Bandon Fire leveled most of the town in 1936, it served as a triage spot for the injured. Only three years later, an automated light was constructed and this lighthouse closed, laying abandoned and in disrepair for decades.

In the '70s, Oregon State Parks got hold of the land and embarked on a mission to restore it, but it was so badly damaged it took numerous agency partners to come together to raise enough funds to save the lighthouse. Finally, about 1976 or so, the lighthouse reopened to the public, but had to close again due to the pandemic. It's back open now but the tower is closed because of safety issues. See Historic Adventures of a Lighthouse on South Oregon Coast: Coquille River Light at Bandon

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