Visit Four Historic Lighthouses With Bandon as Your Base
By Gary Hayes
Published: 04/17/2020

Using Bandon as a base, Oregon Coast visitors can easily tour four lighthouses on easy day trips that include some of the State's most beautiful stretches of coastline.

The Oregon Coast's historic lighthouses are icons of the region's maritime past and they sit in some of the most stunning natural locations anywhere on the planet. Four of the Oregon Coast's nine lighthouses can easily be seen in a two-day itinerary using Bandon as a base. These lighthouses are situated atop rocky capes and are set in other scenic locations that offer stunning Oregon Coast views; and outstanding wildlife and sealife viewing where you may experience a wide variety of birds, seals, sea lions and whales.

Please be aware of current travel restrictions in the state of Oregon due to concerns regarding the Coronavirus. Oregon State Parks and some lighthouses are currently closed to visitation, so confirm current status before your visit.

DAY 1: COQUILLE RIVER & CAPE BLANCO LIGHTHOUSES

Coquille River Lighthouse: From Bandon, you don't have to go far to see your first lighthouse. In fact, you can see the Coquille River Lighthouse, on the north side of the river, from many places on Bandon's riverfront. The best place for viewing on the south side of the river is from the Bandon South Jetty Park. To visit the lighthouse, it's a short 10-minute drive to the lighthouse on the north side of the Coquille River within Bullards Beach State Park. The lighthouse now feels a little upriver since building the jetties and the accompanying build up of sand on both sides of the jetty. Originally, it guided many a nervous mariner over a dangerous sandbar until the construction of jetties eased the way inland. The lighthouse, boasting a 40-foot tower and a foundation hewn from locally sourced stone, was first lit in 1896. The lighthouse sat in disrepair for decades, but recent restoration efforts have revived the crumbling structure and a solar-powered light now sits in place of the original lens. The lighthouse is open to visitors 11am-5pm, mid-May through September.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse: Sitting 256-feet atop a chalky-white cliffside on Cape Blanco that juts a mile-and-a-half out into the Pacific Ocean, this brick structure bears the title of oldest standing lighthouse on the Oregon Coast and is located on the westernmost point in all of the state. First lit in 1870, the lighthouse was originally commissioned to guide ships associated with the gold and lumber industries and was built in part out of bricks made by a local tradesman. Cape Blanco Lighthouse is perched in prime sight of plenty of fantastic coastal wildlife habitat and is open 10-3:15pm April through October, but is closed on Tuesdays. The lighthouse is a 40-minute drive south of Bandon, turning west toward Cape Blanco State Park nine miles north of Port Orford.

Must-See Side Trip: If you continue the nine miles south to Port Orford, you can visit Battle Rock Park for dramatic views and Port Orford Heads State Park, which features great hiking trails with stunning views and a historical museum housed in the old Port Orford Lifeboat Station which was built in 1934.


DAY 2: CAPE ARAGO & UMPQUA RIVER LIGHTHOUSES

Cape Arago Lighthouse: This 44-foot-tall lighthouse towers 100 feet over the ocean at the edge of a small island near Coos Bay. This lighthouse was first lit in 1934 and is not accessible to the public, but is best viewed from a viewpoint just south of Sunset Bay State Park or from Lighthouse Beach to the north. The structure stands on the site of two previous lighthouses, both of which fell prey to the whims of erosion and inclement coastal weather. Today, it is owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Suislaw. And keep an ear peeled: Cape Arago's signature foghorn is sure to surprise you. From Bandon, it's about a 30-minute drive north via the Bandon to Charleston Tour Route following Seven Devils Road north out of Bandon and turning west on the Cape Arago Highway. (OR 540)

Must-See Side Trip: This remarkable stretch of coastline offers several must-stops for visitors. You can visit three amazing State Parks along a dramatic 2.5-mile section of the Oregon Coast. Shore Acres State Park offers stunning cliff-side views; Cape Arago State Park offers additional views and some of the best seal and sea lion viewing on the Oregon Coast; and Sunset Bay State Park features lovely views of a naturally sheltered bay and its intimate arching beach.

Umpqua River Lighthouse: This stucco and brick column is actually the successor of the Oregon coast's very first lighthouse, which tumbled inauspiciously into the Umpqua River in 1864 following years of damage by storms and river flooding. First lit in 1894, the new 65-foot tower looms 100 feet above a serene stretch of sand dunes. This lighthouse bears a striking resemblance to its sister structure at Heceta Head and after dark, you can watch for the unique red and white flashes emanating from this steadfast sentinel. From Cape Arago, the trip takes about 40 minutes, following the Cape Arago Highway back to US 101 in North Bend and heading north to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. The lighthouse is open for tours daily from 10-4pm, May through October.

Must-See Side Trips: Just 15 minutes east of Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, you'll find the Dean Creek Elk Viewing area along OR-38, where dozens of Roosevelt Elk can be observed year-round enjoying a series of lush pastures. Head back to US 101 and drive north for about 15 minutes to find the Oregon Dunes National Scenic Area, a striking landscape composed of a 40-mile stretch of dunes that reach miles inland in some places. The day-use area features platforms with views across the dunes to the ocean and two trail options that lead through the dunes to the beach beyond.
Visit Four Historic Lighthouses With Bandon as Your Base