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Three Oregon Coast Locales Larger Than They Look at Bandon, Florence, Otter Rock

Published 08/23/21 at 3:12 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Oregon Coast Hangouts Bigger Than They Look

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(Oregon Coast) – Expansive and vast: you could easily use those two words to describe three spots on the Oregon coast. They are, if nothing else, gi-normous in their scope and layout, filled with finds and stuff to do. (Above: Bandon's Bullards Beach State Park, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts)

There is more than meets the eye in these places at Bandon, Depoe Bay and Florence.

Bullards Beach State Park

A sprawling section of southern Oregon coast that runs for over four miles along the beaches of Bandon, from the lighthouse and the northern tip of the bay to the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, where sand and nothing but sand rules the landscape. Surrounding it are shore pines and that inimitable ocean, which can get wild here during winter's unruly moods.

It all leaves plenty of room for one big favorite activity here: horseback riding. Bullards Beach State Park includes a horse camp and access to 11 miles of trails for your equestrian friend.

Courtesy Oregon State Parks

Then there's camping – and plenty of it. The hiker / biker camp is popular with those zipping along the Oregon Coast Trail, but there's over 100 full-hookup sites, 82 with electricity and water, and 13 yurts – among other roughing-it finds.

Still, it's the Coquille River Lighthouse that's the big attraction. Stately yet weather-beaten, the place screams history and begs for stories to be told.

It came to life in 1896, coming with a host of support buildings that are long gone now. There was the keepers' duplex, a barn and a gigantic cistern for storing water. Initially, the lighthouse had a fog trumpet which sent out a blast using steam every thirty seconds, which was later upgraded to an oil engine-powered system for a few decades.

In 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard assumed control and turned out the light, replacing it with an automated beacon down the beach. The old lighthouse sat vacant until restoration work began in 1976, and it was opened to the public in 1979.

Coquille River Lighthouse is literally living on the edge: storms have battered it plenty of times and damaged it, so major restoration projects pop up now and again. The interior was open to the public in the summer months until COVID restrictions hit. 541-347-2209. - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours

Florence And Its Backyard

Plenty of scenic wonders abound in this area, right in the very middle of the entire Oregon coast.

The beaches of Florence are all fluffy sand - a precursor to the massive National Dunes Recreation Area that sprawls some 40 miles southward. There, towering dunes create a small mountainscape, weaving in and out of lakes of various sizes.

Just north of Florence, horse riding businesses and trails hide behind the forest-like brush that lines Highway 101. Eventually, the landscape abruptly changes to craggy rock cliffs as you come to landmarks like the Sea Lion Caves and the Heceta Head Lighthouse. Along the way, numerous viewpoints allow you to stop on the road and view this always-dramatic chunk of shoreline.

Back in town, there's plenty to do should it rain on your coastal travels. Wander the atmospheric Old Town, play around the various parks and docks on the river, and walk the beautiful Promenade which lies on the eastern edge of Old Town. Take time to explore the old pilings beneath the massive and gorgeous Siuslaw River Bridge (that was designed by famed Oregon engineer Conde McCollough). Or at the town's very northern end, check out the Darlingtonia Botanical Wayside, filled with the rare insect-chomping plants that sit and wait for bugs to get entranced by their colors and smells, and then they make a meal of them.

Near Depoe Bay: the Punchbowl

This giant bowl-like structure made of sandstone makes an impression on just about everyone, especially in wilder weather when the water is churning about madly inside.

If you've seen it going nuts during these times, there are few things more satisfying than to find the tide low enough to enter the Devil's Punchbowl. This only happens during the summer and fall months - and even then it's extremely rare. It's reachable from a beach access located nearby the parking lot overlooking the Punchbowl. You'll frequently have to wade through some amount of water and keep a sharp lookout on the tide for your return trip.

To be able to enter it and explore it is humbling and even quite chilling, especially as you stand inside, look around at the ocean-worn walls of sandstone and picture the swirling insanity which normally occurs there.

On the southern side of this central Oregon coast headland called Otter Rock is a long, winding stairway reaching down to a beach extremely popular with surfers. In fact, during nice summer days, it's not unusual for wetsuit-clad people to outnumber the rest of the population.

There is a smattering of charming shops, restaurants and lodging at Otter Rock as well, including a long-standing wine shop located right next to the Punchbowl viewpoint. Hotels in Depoe Bay - Where to eat - Depoe Bay Maps and Virtual Tours



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