Road tripping the Oregon coast was a spur of the moment decision. We were in Portland trying to figure out our next move - which was going to be heading straight to the Californian border then hugging the coastline from there. It was the middle of winter and we had been avoiding living out of the van (road tripping in the cold just ain't fun) and wanted to find some warmer weather asap... But we thought to ourselves, why waste the opportunity to see a beautiful coastline?
We hit the road and our first stop on our Oregon coast trip was Florence, a town located on the Siuslaw riverfront. Upon arriving we headed straight out to south jetty to see what the Oregon coast had to offer. It was cold and windy but we had a blast checking out the piles of driftwood that had washed ashore.
We contemplated staying in Florence for the night but with a few hours of light still left we decided to go and check out some sand dunes we had read about just south of Florence. The sand dunes were massive! We couldn’t believe how big they were and spent some time running up and down them like two little kids.
The sun was setting so we headed for Coos Bay McDonalds to use the wifi as we wanted to see where we were going to venture next. On arrival to Coos Bay the weather had taken a turn for the worst and was pelting down rain. The weather report wasn’t looking to good, and they were predicting more rain for the following two days. We ended up camping out in the McDonalds car park for two days until the weather cleared up. We had everything we needed, free wifi, coffee and a bathroom so we couldn’t complain too much.
We woke to sunshine on the third morning of our great McDonalds camping marathon, grabbed a couple large coffees and hit the road. We arrived in a small historic town by the name of Bandon which is perched on the south side of the Coquille River. One of the stores that caught our eye was Bandon Sweet's and Treats' so we parked up and checked out some of the local shops. The Sweet's and Treat's store had just about every kind of flavored sweet known to man and more flavors of popcorn then we've ever seen! Everything was free to taste!! After gorging on many, many sweets, we headed to the mouth of the Coquille River to check out the huge sea stacks we'd read about.
After lunch we continued south, weaving around the cliffs and coves along highway 101, arriving at a town by the name of Port Orford. We drove down to the boat harbor to check out the beach and possibly somewhere to sleep for the night. As it turns out there were a few small waves breaking in the cove and I ended up going for a paddle. When I came in we decided that we would sleep in the boat harbor carpark overnight. This spot was absolutely perfect, we were parked right up in front of the ocean with a million dollar view and barely anyone around except for a few old fishermen mending their nets. We heated up some soup, set up the laptop to watch a movie and hunkered down for the night. At around 1 am we were woken up by gale force winds and huge waves crashing over the break wall and over our van. The van was shaking madly and getting severely smashed wave after wave. We immediately backed up and headed for higher ground in another carpark further back from the water. The spot which we had thought was so perfect almost ended up in us almost getting washed into the ocean! The rain and wind continued throughout the rest of the night before finally settling early morning. The sun came out and it was as if the storm had never even happened.
By the time we reached Gold Beach (30 mins from Port Orford) the bad weather had come in again with steady rain and misty clouds making for an earie but electric feeling. We stopped at the local grocery store to grab some food supplies for the road ahead. Gold Beach is only a small town with not a lot to offer so we headed just south of the town and pulled up at the beach to make some breakfast.
Our next and last stop along the Oregon coast was the town of Brookings. Just before entering Brookings we took a right turn down a road which took us to the north jetty of the Chetco River. As we pulled up to the jetty we noticed a bunch of miniature, kennel-like houses, and to our surprise cats started appearing from inside them. We walked over to check them out and we realized that they were abandoned kitty's. A sign stated that the local Sheriff had built the home for these abandoned cats. It was quite sad to see these cats had been left behind but at the same time it was quite inspiring. We fed the cats and filled up their water bowls before heading over the bridge and into the city.
Knowing we were close to the Oregon/Californian border and not wanting to leave the Oregon coast just yet, we decided to spend on more night on the rugged coast and found ourselves another overnight park overlooking the ocean. It was yet another wild and stormy night, the lightning was spectacular to watch and perfect weather for cozying up inside the van for another movie screening.
As we drove into town we noticed a giant blow up crab on the side of the road and at closer inspection we noticed a sign reading “Crab Festival Today” so we had to attend. The festival was a little in-organized but we didn’t care as we just wanted to eat some fresh crab. After enjoying a couple of crab rolls at the festival, we went for a walk along the river. As we walked closer to a wharf we noticed something swimming in the water which turned out to be three of the cutest otters. They were playing together and we managed to get reasonably close. After our otter encounter we drove to the beach and we were welcomed by a stunning rainbow. Brookings was our last stop on our Oregon coast road trip before crossing the border into California and continuing down the California coastline.
Read about our Northern California Coast Road Trip!
Start planning your own trip! Check out the Northern California Coast Driving Itinerary.
Two Aussies road-tripping across the USA. Our goal is to discover America's wild places and vibrant cities... and make the most of every moment. Read more