This is the continuation of a previous post about our family’s summer road trip along the West Coast of the United States. A road trip so epic, we just couldn’t share all the highlights in one post!
With its breathtaking scenery and quirky roadside attractions it was no surprise that Oregon turned out to be the perfect family destination. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest this wouldn’t be our first trip to Oregon, but it would include a lot of unknown territory, and we’re always up for new adventures.
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Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor State Park
The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is a coastal park which stretches 12 miles along Highway 101 in Southern Oregon. Even with cloudy skies it was one of the most visually stunning areas we visited on the entire trip. Given the opportunity one could easily spend 12 days exploring this area, but as it was we had only one.
Having seen photos of Natural Bridges on Instagram, I had some idea of what to expect. Even better in person our first view of this beautiful spot with its emerald green waters took our breath away. Feeling adventurous? There is a steep trail leading down to the bridges, but watch your step.
Accessing the Secret Beach requires hiking down a steep rocky trail, but once you arrive I promise you won’t be disappointed. Had time and tides permitted we could/would have stayed at Secret Beach all day. After parking you’ll want to head to the right, look for a smaller trail heading down.
What can I say we love roadside attractions! If you have any dinosaur lovers in your group, you won’t want to miss a visit to The Prehistoric Gardens, located directly on Highway 101.
Attracting road trippers since 1955 there are 23 life-size dinosaurs located in this perfectly kept beautiful forest setting. There are restrooms and a gift shop onsite as well.
Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint
We loved exploring the beaches in Bandon, caves, wide swaths of sand, a friendly seal and a setting sun made for a truly magical experience.
The Coquille River Lighthouse
The Coquille River Lighthouse can easily be seen across the river from Old Town Bandon, and makes for a very pretty picture.
If you’re interested in a closer look head over to Bullards Beach State Park where you’ll also find a wonderful driftwood beach.
Sea Lion Caves
The Sea Lion Caves where Roadside America meets natures wonders! How could we miss the opportunity to take an elevator down into America’s largest sea cave? I was fascinated by all those sea lions, frolicking in the water, fighting for territory, napping all over one another. They made quite a racket and oh the smell!
My boys however, were more fascinated by a giant yellow slug on the wall. Go figure. I guess they haven’t seen many slugs before…
Heceta Head Lighthouse and Beach
Heceta Head Lighthouse claims to be the most photographed lighthouse in the United States, and I believe it. Its sits 200 feet above the sea, surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful scenery and I know I certainly took my fair share of photos during our visit.
A short hike from Heceta Head Beach will take you up to the lighthouse where you’ll be treated to amazing views. Along the way you’ll find a gift shop, which also sells ice cream.
Heceta Head Beach with its many tide pools and rock formations is a fabulous place to go exploring. Do be mindful of the tides, especially if you decide to venture further out.
Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park
The giant mountains of shifting golden sand were begging to be conquered, so we set about climbing, but within moments our shoes were filled with burning hot sand, and the struggle was real. Just over the crest was the river, and we were rewarded with a dip in the cool water.
Formed by wind, water, and time Oregon’s sand dunes stretch 40 miles along the coastline inland as far as 2.5 miles and rise as high as 500 feet! They are truly a sight to behold!
Honeyman Memorial State Park was the perfect place to stop and explore. The Park offers sand board and boat rentals, swimming, picnic areas, and even camping.
You’ll find, Thor’s Well, a collapsed sea cave on the edge of a rocky shore just outside of the city of Yachats. Nothing is stopping you from walking right up to what looks and smells like a gaping maw, but beware!
This is popular place for photographers, especially at low tide when the water churns and froths angrily in and out of the cave with extreme force, I shudder to think what might happen if one fell in…
Yaquina Head Outstanding Area
Our visit to Yaquina Head, an Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty, was easily my favorite day of the entire trip! We saw gray whales, seals, bald eagles and countless other wild creatures.
Planning our visit around the tide tables (finally) we spent hours peering into the water at the Cobble Beach marine garden. Brightly colored sea lemons, purple urchins, California muscles, giant sea stars, and chitons were just a few of the sea creatures we saw and touched.
A tour of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Oregon’s tallest, will take you back in time. You’ll climb to the top and learn about what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper in 1875.
I LOVE cheese, so there was no question as to whether or not we’d be visiting the Tillamook Creamery. I’ve been enjoying Tillamook products my entire life, and in fact I visited the Creamery when I was just 8 years old. The idea of bringing my kids to a place I had such fond memories of really appealed to me.
We really enjoyed our visit to the brand new visitor center, which opened only a few weeks prior to our visit!
After the tour we enjoyed a delicious lunch of Grilled Cheese, Mac & Cheese, and creamy Tillamook Ice Cream.
Cape Meares Lighthouse
You’ll find the Cape Meares Lighthouse Just 10 miles down the road, from the Tillamook Creamery! A bright and sunny day over in Tillamook, by the time we arrived at the lighthouse we were completely fogged in.
The shortest lighthouse in Oregon, the approach from above is unique and picturesque, even with the ever present fog.
Take a short walk from the through the Sitka Spruce trees, and you’ll find the Octopus Tree. The 105 foot tree, thought to be 300 years old, has no central trunk, but instead many trunks some stretching outward as far as 16 feet before growing upward. No one knows if the tree grew this way naturally, or if it was trained by the Native Americans, but either way it’s impressive.
It’s hard to sum up our visit to Portland in just a few sentences, but believe me we made the most of our two and a half days there!
We took tours, visited multiple gardens and museums, ate delicious food and lost ourselves in the world’s largest bookstore!
Read more about our visit to The Rose City…
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake, famous for the clarity and deep blue color of it’s water, has to be seen to be believed. Our mouths dropped open at first sight. Sitting in the caldera of what was once Mount Mazama, Crater Lake is 2000 feet deep, and the deepest lake in the United States.
The caldera was created 7,700 years ago with the eruption and subsequent collapse of Mount Mazama, which allowed centuries of rainwater to collect. There are no rivers or streams flowing into the lake, but as much as 43′ of snowfall each year help to replenish and keep the lake full.
There are two islands in the Lake, Wizards Island and the Phantom Ship, both were created during subsequent eruptions.
Should one desire, swimming is allowed in the Lake, but the hike down to the water’s edge is considered strenuous and the water is cold, so we satisfied ourselves with visiting some of the more than 30 view points along the Rim Road.
Though we didn’t have time for a real visit to Mount Shasta, the second tallest mountain in the Cascade Range, we did make time to stop at a view point.
So there you have it! Our epic road trip from Los Angeles to Portland and back again! Two weeks, over 2300 miles, 15 lighthouses and countless other highlights. Stay tuned for more details, tips, and advice about all these places and more in future posts.