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

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.

Chris Burkard

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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 (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.