Travel

Oregon Road Trip: Forest Hikes and Whale Sightings Along the Wild Rivers Coast

Oregon Road Trip: Forest Hikes and Whale Sightings Along the Wild Rivers Coast

Since setting the perfect, moody stage for films like The Goonies, Oregon’s northern coast—home to Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, and charming small towns like Astoria—has been the tourism darling of the state’s 363 mile-long seaboard. But venture further south and you’ll find an undiscovered treasure trove of rocky coastline, home to stormy beaches, and culinary and craft brew bounties, perfect for your next Oregon road trip. Meet the Wild Rivers Coast.

Named after federally-protected “wild and scenic rivers” like the Rogue and Chetco that empty into the Pacific along this shorefront, the Oregon portion of the Wild Rivers Coast (the full region extends into northern California) stretches roughly 107 miles along Highway 101 from the town of Brookings to Coos Bay, Oregon. What this route lacks in length it makes up for in adventure: fat-tire biking on sandy beaches, hiking through old-growth forests, cold water surfing, and marine wildlife viewing are all on offer throughout the Wild Rivers Coast. The area even has its own officially-designated Food Trail, allowing foodies to eat and drink their way from bayside seafood shacks and cranberries bogs to local breweries and distilleries (or, fish, crab, and forage for your own meals like locals do). 

A leisurely four-day road trip is the perfect way to discover this untrammeled and overlooked part of the Oregon coast. Here’s how to do it. 

The trip: four days, 107 miles

Although the two-hour drive from Brookings to Coos Bay could easily be done in one day, stretching the trip out over four allows you to actually indulge in all the Wild Rivers Coast has to offer. 

When to go

A temperate climate uncharacteristic of the Pacific Northwest has earned this area the nickname Oregon’s “Banana Belt,” so travel is enjoyable year-round, with mild winters, balmy summers, and scenic autumns and springs. You can also plan your trip around different seasonal attractions, like watching for migrating gray whales in winter and late spring or visiting in fall during harvest season.

What to drive

Most cars can handle Highway 101’s well-maintained stretches, but a four-wheel drive with wet-weather tires will guarantee access to wilderness areas.

Days 1 to 2

Kick the trip off in Brookings in Oregon’s south, with a breakfast of home-made bagels and coffee from First Rise Bakery. The waterfront marina, downtown area, and manicured green areas like Azalea Park make for a relaxing morning. To get your blood pumping, head out to Harris Beach State Park for tide-pooling, or hike through redwood groves in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Morning mist rising from Harris Beach, near Brookings, Oregon.

Alamy

Published at Thu, 18 Mar 2021 20:10:36 +0000