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Wild Rivers, Wild Seas: 72 Hours of Winter Adventure on Oregon’s Lost Coast

​Hiking, fishing, paddle boarding, mountain biking and exploring on Oregon’s rugged southern coast.

By: Josiah Roe + Save to a List

Far from the crowds of Portland and San Francisco yet less than a day's drive from either, Oregon’s Southern Coast aka "The People's Coast" is some of the most breathtaking and relatively undeveloped coastline in the United States.

Mighty rivers cascade through dense emerald forests out to towering sand-dunes meeting massive cliffs, sea stacks, and natural bridges. It is a place where the interplay between water and rock creates a landscape as dramatic as the shifts in its weather, as deafening winter storms blow in from the north, breaking in a panoply of godlight over a deep blue sea.

The undeveloped nature of the southern coast and the abundance of public land (and campsites) makes the coast ideal for vanlife and glamping, and we had the opportunity to do both while shooting our 2018 Holiday Lookbook.

Do like we did and grab an awesome van from Glampervan complete with fridges and room to spare or go overlanding hardcore with a badass 4x4 from Pacific Overlander with a rooftop pop top tent.

Day 1

4 p.m. Camp at Harris State Beach

A fantastic introduction to the southern coast, Harris State Beach has a bit of everything: full-hookup campsites (and yurts), lush forest, dramatic beach(es), abundant wildlife, and even a hiker/biker camp for those hiking the Oregon Coast Trail or biking the Pacific Coast Highway. It is also a killer place to take in your first sunset of the trip. 

6 p.m. Dinner at Oxenfre 

A hardscrabble lumber town, Brookings has recently developed a bit of a foodie scene with a fierce pride in its local offerings, from Chetco Gold honey to line-caught cod, and the gastropub Oxenfrē is a great way to try a bit of everything. The beef stew is glorious on a cold night and goes fantastic with their bacon-infused bourbon.

8 p.m. Drinks at Chetco Brewing

“Nothing weird and science fictiony” is brewmaster Big Al’s promise, and the all-vegan brewery delivers, with great selection of great tasting and “unfancy” porters, stouts, and ales that don’t try to beat you in the head (and stomach) with over-hopping. 

Day 2 

8 a.m. Breakfast at Compass Rose

Fresh local fuel for a day of adventure, the Compass Rose Cafe is right in the heart of Brookings with easy access up and down the Main Street (PCH) to visit local shops.

9:30 a.m. Explore the Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor

Perhaps the most beautiful and iconic section of not just the Oregon Coast, but the entire Pacific coastline, the Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor is one magical viewpoint, beach, and sea arch after another. 

If you see a pull-off, stop and hike down. Weather permitting you can also SUP or kayak its numerous coves. From Natural Bridges to Secret Beach, you cannot go wrong.

Noon Lunch at Cougar Lane Lodge

Head into the Wild & Scenic Rogue River canyon. BBQ & tall boys of Hamms await with a killer deck overlooking the river.

1:30 p.m. Stand-up Paddleboard the Rogue River

The Lower Rogue was one of the original eight rivers to be designated “Wild & Scenic” and is fantastic for kayaking, rafting, and paddle-board.

1:30 p.m. (Alternate) Fly Fish the Mermaid Riffle

The Rogue River is famous the world over for its Steelhead and salmon runs from mid-Spring to Fall. It is always best to take a guide, but the Mermaid Riffle is a gorgeous curve in the Rogue just downstream from the Canyon.

After an afternoon of fishing head to Port Orford, the westernmost incorporated place in the lower 48 United States and the northernmost town falling within Oregon’s “Banana Belt” of warmer (relatively speaking) southern coast towns due to the Brookings Effect.

6 p.m. Dinner at Redfish

For dinner head to Redfish, for seasonal (and local) menus and breathtaking views of the coast, Port Orford, and Battle Rock. Be sure to call ahead for reservations.

After dinner head across the street to Pitch's East, a salty local joint that is better experienced than described.

9 p.m. Stay at Wildspring Guest Habitat

Wildspring Guest Habitat is an escape, a step into a Tolkienesque world of towering trees and woodland elves. Be sure to visit their hot tub with breathtaking ocean views.

Day 3

After breakfast in the main hall, you can swing by the Port of Port Orford to view what is perhaps the most unique dock in all of Oregon with a crane that lifts and lowers every boat.

9:30 a.m. Tour the Cape Blanco Lighthouse 

South of Port Orford is Cape Blanco, the westernmost point in Oregon and home to the oldest lighthouse in the state. The 360 degree views from the top of the lighthouse are incredible, and the State Park also has a great campground.

11:00 a.m. Fat Tire Bike the Bandon State Natural Area

The Oregon Coast is a fat-tire mountain biking paradise, and the Bandon State Natural Area is a great introduction. You can rent bikes from Pineapple Express Adventure Rides in Port Orford, which will also come in handy for Whiskey Run.

Noon Lunch at Tony's Crab Shack

But first no visit to the southern coast is complete without a stop at Tony’s Crab Shack in Bandon with its hyperlocal, fresh, and never deep-fried menu. It is also part of the Wild River Coast Food Trail.

2:30 p.m. Mountain Bike Whiskey Run

Whiskey Run is a recently built, designed, and ever growing mountain bike trail system that is perfect for riders of all levels. 

6 p.m. Dinner at Walt's Pourhouse

Walt's Pourhouse in Coos Bay has a huge patio *and* a pool table, in addition to classic pub food and a killer selection of microbrews. 

8 p.m. Camp at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park

After dinner head to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. You can book a yurt or a campsite and it has great beach and dune access.

7 a.m. Stand-up Paddleboard Lake Marie

In the morning wake up at sunrise for an unparalleled SUP experience paddle boarding Lake Marie at sunrise. The lake and towering forest that surrounds it is a magical experience.

There is no end to the adventure joy to be found on the Oregon Coast. Be sure to visit The Oregon Coast Visitors Association for more info and to search for more Oregon adventures on The Outbound.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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