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Momentous Moments
Published: 03/17/2016
Shore Acres State Park on Cape Arago
Shore Acres State Park on Cape Arago
Photo by Gary Hayes

The South Oregon Coast has many surprises in store for visitors to discover.

No matter how many times I travel along these 363 miles, the Oregon Coast continues to amaze me. Although it's always a different experience from day to day and season to season, it never fails to provide a "wow." One of my favorite stops on the South Oregon Coast is Cape Arago, a required side trip off Highway 101 for any traveler, in my opinion. It's a drive of less than a half-hour from downtown Coos Bay or North Bend to reach a remarkable string of three State Parks along this spectacular cape. You start with a scenic view of Sunset Bay, a protected cove and beach with rocky reefs and islands guarding its mouth. As you continue, views of the Cape Arago Lighthouse emerge before you reach Shore Acres State Park and one of the most amazing viewpoints in Oregon. It's known for great wave action year-round, but when storms whip up huge swells, there's no other place like it. The reefs and cliff sides turn incoming waves into explosions that resemble fireworks, then water cascades like a waterfall down richly textured rock formations. I'm always entranced by this constantly changing scene, making it difficult for me to leave as I convince myself to stay for "just one more wave." On this visit, the sun broke out for a few minutes between showers and rainbows appeared and dissolved with each momentous crash. Nearby, Simpson Reef is usually active with sea lions whose bellowing echoes throughout the area. Finally, Cape Arago State Park denotes the end of the road with expansive views and access to colorful intertidal areas. Hike the length of this stunning cape in spring and you're likely to enjoy wildflower-dotted trails and catch glimpses of seals nursing their newborns. Although Cape Arago is exceptional, it's not an exception. The momentous Oregon Coast has many surprises in store for your next visit. - By Gary Hayes

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