Spectacular Side Trips
By Gary Hayes
Published: 09/26/2014  Updated: 08/16/2019
Rocky spires on the beach in Bandon Oregon
Coquille River Lighthouse viewed from Bandon South Jetty County Park  Photo by Gary Hayes
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Bandon's Beach Loop Drive

Bandon's Beach Loop Drive offers access to a magnificent stretch of beach with dramatic rock formations along the scenic south Oregon shore.

Oregon has some amazing beaches, but Bandon may have the most spectacular and interesting beach adjacent to any coastal town in the state. The best way to take it all in is with a Highway 101 side trip known as Beach Loop Drive. This side trip offers views of the historic Coquille River Lighthouse and viewpoints to overlook rock formations with names like Elephant Rock, Face Rock, Wizard’s Hat and Cat and Kittens. The best way to explore Bandon’s beach with its rocky spires and outcroppings is to walk it and this route offers several options for beach access.

My favorite way to enjoy this sensationally scenic stretch of coast as you are headed south, is to veer off Highway 101 into Old Town Bandon on 2nd St SE. Bandon’s Old Town and the riverfront boardwalk make a fun place to stop and walk. When you’re ready to resume your tour with some great lighthouse views, head west on 1st St SE and after the road turns left, make a right turn onto Jetty Road SW. This will lead to Bandon’s South Jetty County Park where you can enjoy a view of the Coquille River Lighthouse from across the mouth of the river and you will also have views of the beach to the north including the offshore Table Rock. When you’re ready to move on, retrace your route on Jetty Road, turn right on Edison Ave SW, then right on 4th St SW that becomes Beach Loop Drive.

One of the best views of Bandon’s beach is just a few blocks away. Turn right on 11th St SW and park at the Coquille Point parking. Between the parking area and paved walking paths, you’ll enjoy 180-degree views of this amazing shoreline area (see more in our Best Viewpoints story in this issue). The next must-stop, Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, is just over a half-mile south on Beach Loop Drive. A short walk from the parking area at the viewpoint follows the edge of the cliffs overlooking Face Rock due west, Wizard’s Hat on the beach and Cat and Kittens offshore just to the northwest. From this angle, you can clearly make out the face in Face Rock, appearing as if a child were raising their head from the water. A pathway and stairway on the south side of the wayside offers the easiest beach access to explore this remarkable natural area, especially at low tide, when tidepools and abundant birdlife can be observed. Bandon’s rock formations are part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife refuge, so no climbing is allowed and dogs should be controlled to avoid endangering wildlife.

The southern portion of beach loop drive offers access to Bandon State Park and day use areas at Devils Kitchen, Bandon Wayside and China Creek. Beach Loop Drive reconnects to Highway 101 in the south end of Bandon.

Total distance: : 7 miles
Driving time: 25 minutes
Must stops: Coquille Point, Face Rock Viewpoint, Bandon South Jetty County Park
Top Tip: You can also visit the Coquille River Lighthouse up close from the north side of the river at Bullard’s Beach State Park
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Spectacular Side Trips