Road Trip Down Oregon's Forgotten Coast

The drive from Eureka, California, to Coos Bay, Oregon has dunes, salmon, and Jurassic Park-worthy greenery—but no crowds. It'll be our little secret.

Strolling the Oregon coast: only blue and gold as far as the eye can see.     Photo: Chris Burkard

Soak in the Pacific on this 250-mile trip from Eureka to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area—it’s every bit as stunning as California’s iconic Highway 1, but without the crowds.

Packing List: Sunscreen, hammock, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds

Highlights: Take a 6.5-mile round-trip hike in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, 50 miles north of Eureka, where you’ll trek along Gold Bluffs Beach and into Fern Canyon, a chasm so lush that Steven Spielberg filmed part of Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World there.

In southern Oregon’s self-proclaimed banana belt, named for its warm climate, take a guided four-hour Pacific kayak tour and paddle past sea stacks, arches, and kelp forests ($105). Reserve one of six yurts at Harris Beach State Park, then head to the sandy beach and fly a kite or explore the tide pools ($43). Splurge on a riverside suite at Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge in Gold Beach, on a hilly bend of the Rogue River, where you can have an en suite massage next to the woodstove and eat pole-caught salmon for dinner (from $415).

Port Orford pit stop.   Photo: Courtesy of Wild Spring Guest Habitat

When you reach Port Orford, fuel up at the Crazy Norwegian’s Fish and Chips (541-332-8601), then spend the night in a cabin suite at WildSpring Guest Habitat, an off-the-radar eco-resort on five acres, where you can score a hot tub overlooking the ocean (from $288).

Drive north to Floras Lake, a pine-studded body of water that offers some of the state’s best kiteboarding and windsurfing ($199 for a kite lesson, $60 for a wind-surfing lesson). Once you make it to Coos Bay, head over to the Charleston Boat Basin, pick up a crab-fishing license, and rent a crab ring at Basin Tackle Shop ($11.50 for three days, non-Oregon residents; 541-888-3811). Catch your legal limit (12 Dungeness, 24 red rock), then take them back to the Charleston Crab Shack (541-888-3433), where cooks will clean and serve them to you hot.

The route.

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