Governor Patterson Memorial State Recreation Site, Waldport
South Beach, Seal Rock, Waldport Virtual Tour
A sizable parking lot just south of the Alsea Bay Bridge is your entrance to Governor Patterson State Recreation Site, a large central Oregon coast state park all its own. From here, there is the main trail (which is paved) trudging past greenery and some forest canopy, and it takes you out onto this wide, fairly even-tempered beach.
In the winter, there’s often enough room between you and the tides to be safe, but those conditions can change and it can become as dangerous as any. In the summer, high sand levels create unique pockmarks and holes in the sand that fill with sea water. From here, the Alsea Bay Bridge is visible to the north. To the south, you’re looking towards Yachats and the dim visage of Cape Perpetua’s headland forms in the far distance (it’s actually only seven miles away).
If you’re truly lucky and conditions are right, this is a great spot at night to see the “glowing sand” effect created by bioluminescent phytoplankton. Those summer sand holes create places where they stuck during the day, and stomping your foot in the pools will result in a tiny but awe-inspiring galaxy exploding beneath your feet. See more about glowing sand on the Oregon coast.
History: The park was named for Isaac Lee "Ike" Patterson, the 18th Governor of Oregon from 1927 to 1929. He was born in this state, one of the first governors to be considered a native during these early, post-pioneer days. For a time he was a farmer in the Willamette Valley, then served in the Oregon Legislative Assembly from 1918 to 1922. It was under him that Oregon State Parks was first founded, and it was he who appointed Samuel H. Boardman as first state parks superintendent. Boardman was instrumental in creating the state parks system and he too has a park named after him on the southern Oregon coast.