by Nikki Cleveland
If you’re traveling the Oregon Coast Highway, take a detour off the 101 to experience the Cape Arago Highway near Charleston and Coos Bay. This 14.2-mile byway branches off the highway and connects several coastal parks with scenic viewpoints and trails.
The first park you’ll reach off the Cape Arago Highway is Yoakam Point State Natural Site. You can take a hiking trail here for just over a mile through the woods for views of Cape Arago Light and Bastendorff Beach. Nearby, Lighthouse Beach is a local favorite for kayaking, surfing, and bird-watching.
Sunset Bay State Park
Less than a mile from Yoakam Point is Sunset Bay State Park. This coastal park has a popular campground for tents and RVs as well as comfortable yurts just a short walk from the beach. There are also day-use facilities including picnic shelters and hiking trails that connect to the other parks on this route.
There are lots of activities to enjoy here, including fishing, boating, picnics, and photography. A public golf course is also conveniently located right next to the park.
Just a mile and a half from Sunset Bay State Park, you can get even more dramatic views from Shore Acres State Park. This park, sitting on the cliffs high above the sea, is one of the best places to watch for migrating whales and waves crashing during winter storms and King Tide events.
There is a beautifully landscaped Japanese-style garden in the park as well, featuring a lily pond and rose gardens. During the holiday season, community volunteers decorate the landscape with festive lights and decorations.
Cape Arago State Park
Cape Arago State Park is only a mile-and-a-half from Shore Acres at the very end of the Cape Arago Highway. This park sits on a headland above the ocean with a scenic viewpoint as well as trails that lead down a sandy beach. The day-use facilities include restrooms, picnic tables, and a gazebo.