Shore Acres State Park, January 2018

On our return trip home from the holidays in Northern California we planned a road trip to scout out some of Oregon’s coastline and to specifically stop at Shore Acres SP and Thor’s Well.  We’ve been to Thor’s Well but this was our first trip to Shore Acres SP.

We were traveling north on Hwy 101 so to get to the park we took the West Beaver Hill Rd, which turns into Seven Devils Rd, to Cape Arago Hwy 540.  Turned left and from there the park was about 4 miles.  From Hwy 101 to the entrance of Shore Acres SP it’s 16 miles and takes about 25 minute.

The closest town to Shore Acres SP is the little fishing town of Charleston.  If you need anything before heading to the park or to your campsite, your choices are Davey Jones Locker or the Old General Store.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you’ll have to go another 13 miles to North Bend or Coos Bay.

Charleston OregonDavey Jones LockerOld General Store
Charleston, Oregon

Shore Acres SP is located on the Cape Arago Peninsula.  Along this 5 miles peninsula you will find Cape Arago SP, Shore Acres SP, Sunset Bay SP, Simpson Reef Viewpoint, the “gardens” at Shore Acres SP, Yoakam Point Lighthouse, Bastendorff Beach County Park, a 5,900-acre natural area called South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve with trails and boardwalks through the estuary, and if that’s not enough, there is also the Sunset Bay golf course.  If you can’t find something to do here, you might as well stay home.

My family and I have traveled up and down the west coast from northern California to Washington all my life and I had no idea Shore Acres SP existed.  We didn’t venture off Hwy 101 very often.  So, while viewing some other photographer’s images of this area, I saw some amazing photos of waves crashing against the rocky shoreline.  Now, growing up on the coast I’ve seen my share of waves crashing on rocks, but these are different.  At this location, when all the required elements come together, the waves hit the sandstone cliffs and are launched in the air an estimated 120 feet.  Now that’s something I haven’t seen.  (If you Google “shore acres Oregon waves” you’ll see a sample of what I’m talking about.)

Shore Acres North Landsc
Shore Acres State Park looking north.

(50 sec silent video of Shore Acres State Park.)

Shore Acres SP is the only park along the Cape Arago Peninsula that requires an entrance fee.  (I believe the fee is to help with the upkeep of the gardens.)  During our visit the fee was $5 at the self-serve kiosk, which only takes cash.  Normal hours for this park are 8:00am to dusk.  It’s best to check the parks website for daily hours or you can find them posted at the kiosk.

Shore Acres South Port
Shore Acres State Park looking south.

During our first day, the forecast did not disappoint with rain and winds from the south at 25mph and gusts around 40mph.  I was hoping the wind might help increase the size of the surf, which would aid in the chance of some large crashing waves, but the wind was coming from the wrong direction for that to happen.  So, we ducked into the parks observation building which was warm and had a great view of the ocean and shoreline.

Shore Acres North Port
Shore Acres State Park looking north.

We decided to save the walk around the gardens for the next day and drove out to the end of the peninsula to Cape Arago SP.  There was a large clearing with a short asphalt trail out to an observation viewpoint with amazing views to the south along the coast.  The high winds made it very hard to walking and standing, but we made it out to the viewpoint before heading back to our cabin and hunkering down for the night.

(30 sec silent video of Cape Arago State Park.  The wind was blowing so hard the video shows what looks like wavy motion in the air.  I think this is from air diffraction, when cold air collides with warm air.  The gale-force winds were much colder that the warm air rising off the surface of the ground.  Or the pressure from the high winds was doing something wonky with my iPhone camera.  (Yes, I’m using “wonky” as a technical term.)  If anyone has a better explanation, please leave it in the comments section.  Much appreciated.)

The next day was gorgeous with blue skies, a few clouds, and no wind.  We spent our last day exploring some of the Cape Arago SP, Simpson Reef Viewpoint (because it’s right next to the road), Shore Acres SP, and the gardens at Shore Acres SP.  (The Simpson Reef Viewpoint is a great place to see and hear hundreds of sea lions.  Bring binoculars if you have them.)

Shore Acres Garden Main Walkway

Shore Acres Garden Fountain
The Gardens at Shore Acres State Park

Our walk through the gardens wasn’t too eventful with not much blooming (because it was January) and volunteers were taking down holiday lights.  We just missed the holiday light display, which happens every year from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, 4:00pm to 9:30pm every night.  More than 1,500 volunteers decorate the gardens with “at least” 325,000 LED and landscape lights, thirty Christmas trees, and lighted sculptures.  During the 2017 holiday season the gardens had an estimated 74,392 visitors from all over the world.

Shore Acres Garden Lawn
The Gardens at Shore Acres State Park

We also walked through the information and gift center which had lots of nik-naks, books and photos of what the gardens look like during the warmer months and what it looks like when decorated with all the holiday lights.  We’ll have to come back when the gardens are in full bloom next year.

The gardens used to be the estate of pioneer timber baron Louis Simpson and includes seven acres with a formal garden, Japanese garden and pond, rose gardens, pavilion, and Garden House.  You can click on this link to get more info about the gardens.

Shore Acres Garden Pond
The Gardens at Shore Acres State Park

We spent our nights at the Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort and would definitely recommend staying here.  It is located on the Cape Arago Highway just a few miles before the parks.  This resort has accommodations for RVs, tent sites, and cabins for “glamping”.  It is also located on a very nice sandy beach and we could hear the surf from our cabin.

This was our first glamping experience and it was great.  If you’re not familiar with glamping it’s like camping but with luxuries that could range from a fully equipped heated cabin to a very nice tent with all the amenities you would need.  This resort has seven separate cabins, safari tents, and what looked like a yurt.  I believe the cabins all had the same floor plan (full kitchen, bedroom downstairs with queen bed, queen bed in loft, bathroom with tub and shower, TVs and Wi-Fi) and each decorated differently with a specific theme.  Our cabin was very cute and clean.  The resort office is open until 6:00pm and has a few souvenirs, personal items, snacks, and an assortment of beverages for sale if needed.  There was also a small building called the “Crab Shack” on the premises.  During the warmer months (May – September) you can purchase some local seafood or a burger for lunch or dinner.  According to their menu, it’s open Thursday-Sunday 11am-8pm.  This is a small resort so reservations are definitely recommended during any time of the year.  Pets are also welcome.

Oceanside RVOceanside CabinOceanside RV #2Trail to Beach
Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort

(23 sec silent video of the beach at Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort.)

Well that’s it for our short visit to Shore Acres SP.  We will definitely be back.  There is so much to see and explore we’ll have to plan to stay for at least a week next time.

Also, all videos were taken with my iPhone and I apologize for them being silent, shaky, and in portrait orientation.  Taking video is the new beast I’m trying to conquer and I hope future videos will get better with practice.

And, if you like this post please click on the like button at the bottom of the post or you can also leave a comment by clicking on the “Leave a comment” link at the top of the post.  Thank you!

FYI about these State Parks –

  • The gardens at Shore Acres SP, the observation building at Shore Acres SP, Cape Arago SP, and Simpson Reef Viewpoint all have wide asphalt paths for easy access. All other trails are narrow dirt trails with roots and possible mud.
  • Sunset Bay SP has two parking areas with unobstructed views of the beach.
  • Drones are not permitted at Shore Acres SP, Sunset Bay SP, Norton Gulch, and Cape Arago SP.
  • No animals permitted outside of vehicles, with the exception of service animals.
  • Signs are posted to not leave valuables in your vehicle.

Our next stop, Thor’s Well.

4 Comments on “Shore Acres State Park, January 2018

  1. Gina, finally got my computer in running order. Your shore acres blog is great! Thanks, only hope we can visit it someday. Love as always, Joan R. Virus-free.

    Liked by 1 person

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