Oregon Coast Motorcycle Trip from North to South

Yaquina Lighthouse

We took off on an Oregon Coast Motorcycle Trip from North to South in early August, This will be one of the most beautiful 360 miles have ever ridden!  We had a four day weekend; and that was a whirlwind trip considering it takes us most of the first day to get to the start and about the same to get home. So in reality, we rode the coast in 2 days and that is just not enough to stop and explore. That means we have to go back ! Ecola State park at Seaside is one of the stops with a view, that even on a tight schedule you’ll want to check out.  We covered it in our Astoria weekend blog post as well; there’s a short video there  too, the ride into the park is like a rain forest (without the rain.)

Oregon has 361 state parks; I’m not sure how many are on the coast, but it’s a lot…so many you can’t stop, or even just ride through all of them on a single trip.  Oregon’s beaches are 100% publicly owned, so not only do you have unfettered access, but on the Oregon Coast Trail (380 miles) you can hike from Washington to California. I mentioned rain……when people think of Oregon, most will assume rain (you rust you don’t tan) and it does rain and rain and rain.  However, if you have the ability to plan (July/August is safest) you can think, what rain?  We’re able to watch the forecast and head out when they predicted four days of sunshine, and at least on this trip it worked out perfectly, sunny and warm all the way.  

We’ve barely gotten started, so let’s get on with the ride!

Total of almost 900 miles.

Tillamook, as you follow Hwy 101 is quite inland from the ocean, but here is where you can take the Three Capes Loop and not only get some wonderful back-road riding, but also, if you have time to hike, see some incredible views.  Cape Meares (Lighthouse), Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda is the trifecta and to see it well, you would spend an entire day or two right here.  Our attempt to at least breeze by had some pitfalls, beginning with a closed road to Cape Meares.  We had read reports of a landslide that closed the road and there were signs that indicated it was true…..while we are not usually deterred by a simple, “Road Closed” sign and will push on until some impassable obstacle, knowing we were pressed for time, turned around at the sign.   We have a goal of visiting all 11 Oregon lighthouses, this one was not to be. The number is a bit deceiving as not all are open to the public, and then there is, “Terrible Tilly” the Tillamook Lighthouse on a rock island.  Cape Lookout is next and while tempting the 2 mile hike was again more time than we had to give, we’re still at the North end and we’ve realized a four day trip is going to be far too short. Cape Kiwanda is the last of the Three Capes and while we didn’t get to take the hikes, the road is always a good choice over the more inland Hwy 101, to call it scenic does not do it justice.  Kiwanda is near Pacific City, the home of the last, “Dory Fleet” where fishing boats are beached and launched on the sand.  Of course you have to be there in the morning or evening to watch these unique sailors and, you guessed it……we missed out, this time. 

It’s, “Hug Point” what else could I do?

Our goal for this first full day on the coast is Coos Bay, about the middle of the state and 215 miles of riding.  If you’ve looked at our motorcycle touring website, you know we divide trips into 3 kinds of days, Travel, Leisure and Explore…..and then nothing fits neatly in to categories while adventuring…..To cover only 200 miles in a day is nothing really, but with so many incredible sights calling you over……it was a day full of excitement and disappointment. So exciting the scenery and viewpoints, so disappointing that we had to pass so many of them without stopping.

The Yaquina Head Natural Area near Newport is another stop that deserved more time.  The lighthouse offers tours lasting about 45 minutes, and there is one of the finest tide pool areas a short walk below.  The lighthouse photo at the top of the page was shot here as well as some close in off-shore rockeries, shown below.  

Tourism Department did not get to name this place

Cape Foulweather was absolutely gorgeous on the day we visited.  This is also where you find, “Devils Punchbowl” a huge rock formation that during high tides has water rushing in and shooting out the top……of course we were there at low tide….many things on the coast change with the tide and timing is either luck, or you’ve planned a certain stop.  I’ll guarantee that if you catch one thing at high tide, the very next thing needs to be at low tide……go with the, “flow”   🙂

 

No, “Foul Weather” today

Bottom of the photo you can see whale spouting.  Photo was enhanced quite a bit for contrast.

We made it to Newport, looking for lunch and through Trip Advisor or Happy Cow we landed at Cafe Mundo, that had yes Vegan food.  Once again, when we recommend a place to eat, we will tell you if they ONLY serve vegan food, but that’s generally not the case, so it’s good for everyone.  I always say, if the food is good for us, it’ll be good for, “normal” people too. This place is eclectic, which makes for all that much more an interesting eating experience.   We were able to sit outside in a garden setting with different, sometimes weird decor…..and we like, “different.” 

Cafe Mundo entrance.  GPS took us there, but we missed it at first, very clever disguise from the street.

Lots of outdoor seating

I said it was, “Eclectic.”  I missed a photo of the bed of nails.

The food was incredible!  Definitely will go there anytime we hit Newport.

At the town of Reedsport, turn east on Hwy 38 to find the, Dean’s Creek Elk Refuge.  Nothing is guaranteed, but it is a pretty good bet to find a large heard of Roosevelt Elk, sometimes as many as 100.  We always carry binoculars, but they  do wander pretty close to the viewing area at times.  A compact set of descent binoculars can be picked up for about $80 and are small enough to carry in a saddlebag.  See our list of equipment and packing at our website.

The end of the day came as we arrived at, “The Mill” Casino in Coos Bay.  It was  a really nice, reasonably priced room, with super friendly staff.  The only downside being a sovereign nation property, unlike almost anywhere in Oregon, they allow smoking.  Only in the Casino, and we’re not gamblers, but we wanted to just wander and tour the place.  As soon as you opened the doors into the pretty large casino, you’re eyes started burning and the smell was awful.  I don’t know if we would stay there again, as I said the rest of the place was quite nice.

Coos Bay is one of the bigger communities on the coast, but this time it was just a sleeping place and we didn’t explore.  It’s an area we’ll go back to and spend some time.  I do know there is a great coffee house, “So It Goes” ………….that hosts local live music and open mikes………my long time friend Neil Laurence, “The Ukulele Poet” is a regular and I’m going to drop in a YouTube of his famous Coos Bay tourism song.  He is an accomplished singer/songwriter and we miss him in Bend.

Oregon Coast Motorcycle Trip North to South

Day 2 Coos Bay to Crescent City Calif.

If you have time, it is a worthwhile alternate route to Hwy 101 south out of Coos Bay to take the Cape Arago Hwy out to the State park of the same name.  You can no longer access the lighthouse (the bridge collapsed) but there are good view points and great hiking trails around the area.  It is also a good spot to view Seals and Sea Lions on the near in rocks. You will have to back track a little and can use local roads to find your way onto Hwy 101. 

Just North of Bandon watch for the Bullards Bay State park and the home of the Coquille River Lighthouse.  The road passes through the park, then onto a sand spit all the way to the river and the lighthouse.  Open regular hours and staffed with volunteers, it’s has a long sandy beach (windy) if you need to stretch your legs. 

Oregon Coast Motorcycle trip Coquille River Lighthouse

Coquille River Lighthouse

Next up is Bandon, or “Bandon by the Sea” as they like to call it.  A nice stopover in a community invested in the arts.  The wharf was decorated on our visit by local school children with their impressions of the sea, sea life and fishermen.  Just around the corner was a great local coffee shop, the, “Bandon Coffee Cafe.” In the lot next to Bandon Coffee is Cecil the fish made from trash.  Local artists, using only materials collected on the beach made Cecil.  He serves as not only an interesting piece of public art, but also a reminder to pick up as you go. 

Oregon Coast Motorcycle Trip Bandon Oregon
Oregon COast Motorcycle Trip Bandon Art
Oregon Coast Motorcycle Trip Bandon oregon Art

Cape Blanco Sate Park is found South of the small community of Sixes, and a bit North of Port Orford.  It was a beautiful spot, and not only the Western most point in Oregon (2nd on the West Coast) but has to be the windiest place on earth.  I mean hold onto your hat, gloves….and anything else not securely attached, it was blowing.  We were the only visitors (maybe they knew) but still the view was worth it.  They have a small lighthouse museum in a separate building that told gave insight into the life of a lite keeper and their families.  

Oregon Coast Motorcycle trip Cape Blanco

While Karla was held captive by an overzealous volunteer……

Cape Blanco Lighthouse staircase

I was allowed to wander freely and take photos…..

Oregon Coast Motorcycle Trip Cape Blanco

The Southern Oregon coast is by far the quietest part of your journey, with little population and fewer tourists.  The road hugs the beach for the most part and there are ample opportunities to pull over for photos, or just to sit and think.  Gold Beach is at the mouth of the Rogue River and home to jet boat rides up river if you’re inclined.  Both day trips and longer dinner runs are available.

Last Oregon town is Brookings sitting in the banana belt, with unusually warm winters and an active fishing harbor.  We stopped off to eat.  Brookings has most all the stores, motels and gas stations you want. We use, “Trip Advisor” and “Happy Cow” apps to find food, lodging and attractions.  On this trip we ate in Brookings, but spent the night in Crescent City CA.  In order to head home or over to I-5, you go into California and then up US 199.  If you’re not going on to ride the California coast, Hwy 199 gets you right into the middle of the Redwood forest on your way to Grants Pass OR. 

Life is Short  — — Start Living Now !

Plan your own Oregon Coast Motorcycle trip from North to South….

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