Shore Acres & Sunset Bay State Parks

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With the sun quickly headed for the horizon, I had just a short while to find a good sunset spot.  I decided to head north from Bandon, and hopefully make it to the cluster of state parks that’s just southwest of Coos Bay.

Cape Arago, Shore Acres, and Sunset Bay State Parks are all located west of Coos Bay, and there are plenty of signs to lead you there from downtown.  On this day, however, I was coming from the south.  There is a small road (Beaver Hill Road), just north of  Bandon, that cuts across some heavily deforested coastal hills, leading to the parks. 

Of the three parks, I had only visited Sunset Bay during my previous pass through the area.  During Day 2, the weather was terrible, and none of the parks seemed very appealing.  But on Day 7, the clouds had finally lifted.  I had heard good things about Shore Acres State Park, so I made it my first stop.

Shore Acres Park is the site of an early 20th century mansion, which served as a summer home to Louis J. Simpson, a shipbuilder and lumberman.  His first home was destroyed by fire, and as he started to rebuild, financial problems caused him to abandon the project.  All that remains now are the gardens.

I suppose I wasn’t visiting at the very best time of year.  April is a bit early for much to be in bloom, which is probably why I was a little unimpressed with Shore Acres.  It’s probably much better in the summer.

This is about all that was blooming during my April visit.

A short walk from the gardens, there’s a good place to view the rocky coastline.  You can look south…

… and north…

… and of course, straight out.  But this really wasn’t the best location to watch the sun set.  So I headed back to Sunset Bay.

Between Shore Acres and Sunset Bay, watch for a small turnout at the side of the road.  You’ll find this awesome view of the Cape Arago Lighthouse.

The Cape Arago Lighthouse went dark in 2006.  This has disappointed some lighthouse preservationists, along with the fact that the light is not accessible to the public. 

So, I ended up back at Sunset Bay State Park, just in time to watch the sunset.  I’m fairly certain this bird is the exact same one I photographed on Day 2–or at least, he was sitting in the same place.

There’s a reason that Sunset Bay is the perfect place to watch the sun set.  If you stand in the middle of the beach, the sun sets perfectly in the middle of the inlet.  Walk to either side, and you get an entirely different view.

Yeah, that’s pretty awesome.

I’ll place Sunset Bay at #2, on my list of favorite sunset spots in Oregon, behind Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach.

But like all good sunsets, this one came to an end.

Like so many of Oregon’s state parks, Sunset Bay is free.  Shore Acres charges an admission fee ($5), which is probably a good deal during the summer months, when everything is in bloom in the gardens.

After dark I drove into Coos Bay/North Bend, in search of a decent motel.  I quickly discovered that there are no reasonably priced rooms in the area, so I ended up in an overpriced and not-terribly-nice (but still adequate) Comfort Inn.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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