Southern Oregon Coast Lighthouse Tour
Combining coastal history and awe-inspiring views, lighthouses capture our imagination. Four of Oregon’s eleven lighthouses are within a short drive from Bandon. Be sure to allow ample time to explore, take some awesome photos, and make lasting memories. Lighthouse tours are seasonal, and may change year-to-year. Check the lighthouse websites for the most up-to-date information before heading out.
Day 1: Northern Lighthouses on the Southern Coast
Start your day early and travel south on HWY 101 from Reedsport. If coming from I5, cut across on picturesque Hwy 38 through the town of Drain where you can pick up a coffee at the local drive thru for your journey west. Stop a few miles east of Reedsport at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area where 60-100 Roosevelt elk hang out. (Also, a good place for an ex-coffee break before beginning your lighthouse quest.) The scenery is beautiful, even if the elk are hanging elsewhere.
Winchester Bay, Umpqua River Lighthouse
Traveling south from Reedsport, your first lighthouse stop is the Umpqua River Lighthouse just south of Winchester Bay. Built in 1857 to signal the entrance to the Umpqua River, the original structure was the first lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, but collapsed during a storm. Standing 65-feet tall, the current Umpqua River Lighthouse was first lit in 1894. This lighthouse is one of the few where you can still climb to the top. Be sure to visit the adjacent museum to learn the history of the lighthouse, the surrounding area, and the US Coast Guard on the Oregon Coast.
Charleston, Cape Arago Lighthouse
Drive further south on Hwy 101 to the city of Coos Bay. If you’re hungry, stop in at Seven Devils Brewery for a locally-sourced food menu and beer made onsite. Several non-alcoholic, fermented beverages are also available. After lunch, head west to Cape Arago Highway to capture views of the Cape Arago Lighthouse. The current lighthouse tower was first illuminated in 1934 and supports a unique fog horn. The lighthouse has no public access but there are great views from the Cape Arago Highway viewpoint, as well as from Bastendorff Beach County Park, and the Oregon Coast Trail. For more information, read How to Find an Epic View of the Cape Arago Lighthouse.
After getting your fill of the stunning Cape Argo views, retrace your steps to Seven Devils Road. Head south to Highway 101, and continue south into Bandon. To help maximize your lighthouse-viewing experience, spend the night at Bandon Inn. The inn is located on a bluff overlooking Old Town and the marina, with river, lighthouse, and ocean views beyond. Their location provides the perfect jumping off point to visit the Old Town merchants and numerous restaurants. Turn into Big Wheel General Store or By the Sea Treasures for a souvenir of your lighthouse tour. For a more lasting memento, browse the artwork at Second Street Gallery, where much of the art is inspired by Bandon, its surroundings, the lighthouses, and the Oregon coast in general.
For a relaxing dinner, try Alloro Wine Bar and Restaurant for Italian-inspired cuisine. Seating is limited, so reservations are suggested.
Day 2: The Southern Lighthouses
Port Orford, Cape Blanco Lighthouse
After a restful night, grab a latte and muffin at Bandon Baking Company, situated just below Bandon Inn on 2nd Street. For a more hearty breakfast, sit down at The Station Restaurant on the north end of Old Town. Either is just the thing to prepare you for a trip south to Cape Blanco Lighthouse. Commissioned in 1870, it’s the oldest standing lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. Located at the state’s westernmost tip on a cliff 245-feet above the Pacific, Cape Blanco Lighthouse offers stunning ocean views. To learn about early 20th century farm life in Oregon, stop by the historic Hughes House located nearby. Both sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Battle Rock Park & Port Orford Lifeboat Station
Continue your exploration of history by driving further south into Port Orford, the oldest town on the Oregon Coast and the most westerly in the lower 48 states. Port Orford offers some of the most scenic coastline in Oregon. Turn into Battle Rock Park and learn how the rock got its name. Walk next door to Red Fish Restaurant for awesome views that are sure to make your meal memorable. Afterwards, head up to the Port Orford Lifeboat Station, a museum and interpretive center, to learn about the heroic lifesaving efforts of the US Coast Guard on the Oregon Coast. Several short, easy trails originating at the station meander around the headlands and offering still more fantastic views.
Bandon, Coquille River Lighthouse
Heading back to Bandon, drive on out to Bullards Beach State Park and see the iconic Coquille River Lighthouse. Built in 1896 and decommissioned in 1939, the Coquille River Lighthouse was restored as an interpretive center in 1979. Bring your fat-tire or mountain bike to ride the hard-packed sand, or just enjoy a stroll while watching the waves.
Top off the day with dinner at Broken Anchor or Arcade Tavern, and try a Bandon Rain craft cider. Many are made with cranberries in honor of Bandon, Cranberry Capital of the World! A taste of cranberry will have you wanting more of Bandon.
Day 3: Journey’s End
Before ending your stay, be sure to revisit your favorite shops and the marina in Old Town for another view of the Coquille River Lighthouse. Time to head for home with tales of the sea and memories to inspire.
Driving Directions (All directions start from Highway 101)
Umpqua River Lighthouse: Just south of Winchester Bay, head west on Umpqua Lighthouse Road. Take the first right.
Cape Arago Lighthouse: In Coos Bay, head west on Newmark Ave (near Mill Casino). Follow the road 2.9 miles until you reach the flashing yellow light at the end of the road. Turn left onto Cape Arago Highway. After crossing the bridge into Charleston, stay to the left and continue onto Cape Arago Beach Loop. Drive 8.6 miles to the viewpoint.
Cape Blanco Lighthouse: 28 miles south of Bandon Old Town, turn west onto Cape Blanco Road. (Look for signs that read Cape Blanco State Park.) Travel 6 miles to the lighthouse.
Port Orford Lifeboat Station: In Port Orford, turn west onto 9th Street and head up the Coast Guard Hill to the park. There is a small sign at the intersection, but it’s easy to miss, so watch for the road.
Coquille River Lighthouse: Turn west into Bullard’s Beach State Park, just north of Bandon. Inside the park, take a left and travel 2 miles to lighthouse.