Bandon Discovery Drive #2: Rogue-Coquille Scenic Byway
Distance: 100 Miles
This discovery drive provides scenic ocean views and an unforgettable experience of the true ruggedness and beauty of remote Oregon along its wild rivers and vast forests. The portion between Gold Beach and Myrtle Point is aptly named the Rogue-Coquille Scenic Byway.
Bandon to Gold Beach
To begin this 100-mile, all-day loop, travel south from Bandon on Hwy 101 toward Gold Beach (~54 miles). Between Port Orford and Gold Beach, this drive takes you past some of the most spectacular ocean views and scenery on the Oregon coast. You may want to allot enough time to pull over and take a few photos, or just enjoy the view!
Gold Beach to Agness
Before entering downtown Gold Beach, and after crossing the Isaac Lee Patterson (a.k.a. Rogue River) Bridge, turn east on Jerry’s Flat Road (SR-595), which becomes Agness Road (NF-33). The route parallels the Rogue River to Agness, where the Rogue is joined by the Illinois River. The two rivers form a gorge of incredible beauty. Wildlife is abundant and recreational opportunities include whitewater rafting and boating. Hike along the Rogue River and enjoy some excellent fishing spots.
Agness boasts an old country store, with friendly folks willing to chat about the area. You will also find two resorts here (one on each side of the Rogue, open seasonally) offering hearty lunches of BBQ, sandwiches, fish tacos, and salads, as well as cold, locally- and internationally-brewed beer. To reach the town of Agness, drive ~ 3 miles past the first resort and turn left onto Agness Illahe Road (SR-375) for ~3 miles.
Agness to Powers
Return to NF-33, and moving away from the Rogue, continue to the logging community of Powers. (This section narrow, windy, and partially graveled. Expect to progress slowly and enjoy the view.) Along the road you will start to parallel the South Fork Coquille River and encounter several U.S. Forest Service and State Parks, many of which offer hiking trails and swimming holes. ~16 miles past the intersection of NF-33 and SR-375, you will cross the river and find a small parking area with facilities and a picnic table, as well as a great photo op of the river.
Before reaching Powers, watch for the Elk Creek Falls Trailhead. The trail is an short, easy hike to the Elk Creek Falls and is accessible year-round.
Near the town of Powers, the road becomes Hwy 219 (South Powers Road). In Powers, the Historic Wagner House, the oldest pioneer home in the region, is situated alongside the main road. There is an adjacent railroad museum and walk-around displays on the grounds.
For cyclist, the Glendale-Powers Bike Trail passes through Powers, and the town hosts the annual Tour de Fronds, one of the most beautiful cycling events in Oregon. Maps and cue sheets of the rides are available on their website.
Powers to Myrtle Point and Coquille
Beyond Powers, the road becomes State Road 542 (OR-542)/Powers Hwy/Coast Hwy 242 as it parallels the Coquille River. Eight miles past Powers, look for the Coquille Myrtle Grove State Natural Site featuring a sandy beach along the river, great for swimming, tubing, and picnics.
Upon reaching Hwy 42W, the route travels past bucolic, rolling hills and through the historic towns of Myrtle Point and Coquille. Both towns have several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stop at the Coos County Logging Museum for the history of logging in the area. Further on in Coquille, visit the Coquille Valley Museum, or time it right to catch a melodrama performed on summer weekends by volunteers at the Sawdust Theatre.
Return to Bandon
Beyond Coquille, Hwy 42 courses down the broad, meandering Coquille River Valley ending at Hwy 101 in Bandon. Park the car and end your day with a walking tour of historic Old Town Bandon. See the port and marina up close, visit the many shops, then settle down to a relaxing meal at any Bandon’s fine restaurants located in Old Town or the city proper.