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Two-Week Road Trip Through Oregon with Friends: Part 2

  • Written by Lindsey Huster
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  • 13 min read
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  • Last updated 5 months ago

Keith and I were on a two-week road trip through Oregon with friends and we had already seen and done so much! Our journey continued south along the coast and we hit many popular destinations on our way to Northern California to visit Redwood National and State Parks.

Coffee to start the day

We started our fourth day of travel at the most boho-aesthetic coffee shop I’ve ever been in! I seriously took a picture of almost every single thing in there. I love coffee shops and Arch Rock Caffe ranks top for the decor. Don’t get me wrong, the coffee and breakfast sandwich I got was amazing too. I knew it was going to be a good day!

Scenic Morning Drive

We had a scenic drive planned to a location we found didn’t exist 😆, so our first stop was the Devil's Churn in the Siuslaw National Forest. It's about a mile walk down to the coastline. Keith went all the way down, but I stayed back to get some pictures of him by the crashing water. It's quite a dangerous area and things can go bad very quickly here, but wow what a view!

Up Close View of Thors Well

Our next stop was Thor’s Well. This is another popular tourist site and although it’s super cool, it may not look exactly like the pictures you have seen. There was quite a large group of photographers with tripods to capture that streaming flow of water as it rescinds back into the “well.” I think you need a bird's eye perspective to get the full effect and there's a photography element to create the silky water flow.

We ended up spending quite a bit of time enjoying the other features at this stop. Along with the well, you can walk around the tide pools, see the spouting horn, a beautiful bridge, and just the fantastic view along the coastline.

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Continuing south to Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse was the next stop to stretch our legs and walk around. This is one of the most photographed lighthouses along the coast. The half-mile trail to the lighthouse passes the lightkeeper's house, which is now a bed and breakfast. Once at the lighthouse base, we were able to enter the ground floor of the tower and snap a couple of pictures. There were park rangers available for questions and were very knowledgeable. There is a hiking trail to the beach and 7 miles of forested network trails. We did not do any of these hikes but would be a great option, especially if you were staying at the lightkeeper's house.

Heceta Head Lighthouse along the Oregon Coast
Heceta Head Lighthouse along the Oregon Coast

The Famous Sea Lion Caves

I was excited about the Sea Lion Caves stop. It was quite stinky outside, but once you got down into the cave, it wasn’t nearly as bad. Of course, they can’t guarantee there will be sea lions, but the clerk told us everyone was reporting several on the rock and a couple swimming. The cave also has some informational displays about sea lions and you can get a great view of the Heceta Head Lighthouse. We did see a pretty large group of sea lions in the cave, a couple swimming and one even tried several times before successfully perching itself on the large rock. This was a great stop, but it might be worth skipping if you happen upon sea lions in another area, which we did end up seeing the next morning. More about that later.

Wrapping up the day

We stopped near the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area on our way to Winchester Bay. There are various dune buggy tours, ATV rental, sandboarding, and hiking here. We didn’t have time to book an excursion on this trip but this could be something to look into next time. We did drive around to see some of the dunes though. Later we checked into the Winchester Bay Inn before heading to dinner at Harbor Light Restaurant in Reedsport. As the sun set we drove around town a bit and eventually called it a day.

Sea Lion Surprise!

Our day began with a great surprise… sea lions! We stopped for a short walk at Cape Arago South Cove and were rewarded with probably a hundred sea lions relaxing on an island and surrounding rocks. The island was a bit far off to see without binoculars, but thankfully Jason had his binoculars. Even though they were on my packing list, I forgot ours.

Our ocean view after the short walk to Cape Arago South Cove.  Look closely for sea lions!
Our ocean view after the short walk to Cape Arago South Cove. Look closely for sea lions!

Do you know how you can look right at something and not see it? This was the case for a moment as we stopped to take in the amazing Pacific coast view. All of a sudden we noticed some rock below us with several sea lions resting. They were mostly quiet and lying still. Once we noticed them, we heard more in the distance and with the help of the binoculars, saw there was an island filled with more rambunctious sea lions. We took turns narrating what was happening on the island. They seemed to be “yelling” at one another, playing, possibly play-fighting, etc. We couldn’t believe it. We were the only ones around and this felt truly like a unique experience. What a terrific way to start the day!

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A Rainy Drive into Northern California

We made a few stops along the coast to walk the beaches in Coos Bay and Bandon. However, it was raining or misting most of the day so a lot of it we saw was from the car window or a quick walk.

Arch Rock is located within the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, one of the most rugged sections of the Oregon coast. This was a great stop and the cloudiness turned the water a beautiful turquoise color. It was chilly and windy so we didn’t stay long, but I was just loving all these viewpoints along the coast. I was trying to soak it in because we’d be heading inland soon.

Since we weren't able to spend much time outside, we opted for a sit-down meal at Pacific Sushi and Grill. I had mentally made a list of all the seafood I wanted to eat along the coast; lobster, crab, shrimp, fried cod, etc. This helped complete my checklist!

It was raining the rest of the day so we drove around and ultimately made a few indoor stops. Walmart for picnic supplies, then we checked out a couple of sporting goods stores and ended up at the Elk Valley Casino. We aren’t gamblers but enjoy walking around and trying our luck. This was a great time in our trip to take it easy because we’d already had several busy days and the upcoming weekend was going to be a lot of driving and walking.

The Famous Curly Redwood Lodge

We stayed at the Curly Redwood Lodge for two nights while we were in town. It is almost a tourist stop itself. According to their website,

It was built from one curly redwood tree that produced 57,000 board feet of lumber. Curly redwood is unique because of the curly grain of the wood, unlike typical straight-grained redwood.

You can read more about the history here: Curly Redwood Lodge History

One thing I noticed on this trip and staying in some older "nice" motels, was the space and imagined luxury of the past. This was a great example of that. A large room, closet, desk area, sitting area, and more.

Visiting the Redwood National and State Parks

The Redwood National and State Parks consist of 1 national park and 3 state parks along the northern coast of California. All combined, the area contains 139,000 acres! The parks include Redwood National ParkDel Norte Coast Redwoods State ParkJedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We spent our time in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park since we only had one day to explore from Oregon.

This park consists of 9,500 acres of redwood trees including several groves of old-growth trees. This part of the park also offers 18 miles of hiking trails and over 100 campsites.

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Grove of Titans

We started the day hiking Grove of Titans in the park's northern most part. Technically, we made stops along the road before even reaching the parking area. We were immediately in awe of these giant trees and just needed to get out of the car! It was amazing, unbelievable, and just made us gitty to see these giants. 

Kristen touching one of the giant trees in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Kristen touching one of the giant trees in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

We then hiked Stout Grove, walked around the closed Jedediah Smith Campground, and made our way over to the Hiouchi Visitor Center. While chatting with a ranger, we learned that the area had just reopened that morning. It had been closed because of the fires in the area. We knew that our plans for the next day would be altered a little because of the fires so it was good to get confirmation of our plan from the informed ranger. He also gave us the tip to visit Endert’s Beach the next morning.

I learned later that the Grove of Titans trail was completed in 2022, which made more sense because the elevated metal boardwalk looked new. Much of the forest has been damaged in the past few decades so this boardwalk is a great way to protect the forest while allowing visitors access to the grove.

More Hiking Trails to Explore

This feeling of wonderment continued throughout the day as we went on to explore the Simpson Reed Memorial Trail and added the Ellsworth Loop Trail for some extra elevation gain in the dense forest. Sauntering among the giant trees makes you feel small and gives you perspective on life. These are the feelings that make travel so meaningful. Getting out of your daily routine, learning about and experiencing something new is life-changing.   

Ending the day with food and dessert

It's always a good idea to end the day with good food and dessert! We completed this magical day with dinner at Seaquake Brewing and then dessert at C & C Diner and Ice Cream.

Have you visited Redwood National and State Parks? We only saw a small section, what would you recommend be on our agenda next time? Let us know in the comments section below.👇 💬

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