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The Charleston Bandon Tour Route
short spur off the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, this Route showcases a
glorious stretch of coastline that includes six state parks, two National
Wildlife Refuges, and America's first National Estuarine Research Reserve.
To Coos Head
From North Bend, take Cape Arago Highway to Charleston, a working fishing
port, and a great point of departure for a charter fishing trip. Soon
you'll pass the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, a teaching and research
extension of the University of Oregon, and Coos Head, which offers a breathtaking
glimpse of this awesome coastline. Driving south, you'll reach Bastendorf
Beach County Park, a popular surfing spot.
B. Out to Cape Arago
A series of beautiful parks awaits you on this stretch of the Route.
First stop is Sunset Bay State Park, which features a beach surrounded
by sandstone cliffs that warm the water to swimmer-friendly temperatures
— a rare treat along the Oregon coast! Three miles farther on you'll
reach Shore Acres State Park, which rests on a bluff that offers sweeping
views of the Pacific. The Park was once the site of a grand estate built
by lumber baron, Louis B. Simpson; the five acre gardens of the Simpson
estate, filled with exotic plants from around the world, are now open
to the public. The road ends at Cape Arago State Park, poised 200 feet
above the Pacific. Watch for seals and sea lions in the surf near Simpson
Reef, and for migrating whales farther off the coast in the winter. To
reach the last leg of the Route, retrace your route for six miles, and
turn right on Seven Devils Road.
Down to the Lighthouse
Driving south, you'll come to the South Slough National Estuarine Research
Reserve, home to many important species including bald eagles, great blue
herons, elk, and Dungenous crab, and offers a number of good hiking and
peddling trails. A little farther along, you'll pass some of Bandon's
celebrated cranberry bogs; Bandon is the unofficial cranberry capital
of the Pacific Northwest. Anchoring the southern end of the Route is the
Coquille River Lighthouse, one of Oregon's most photographed landmarks.
Before ending in Bandon's Old Town section, the Route skirts the Bandon
Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Oregon coast's largest waterfowl
wintering grounds. Bandon is a popular getaway spot on the southern coast.