A trip to the Oregon Coast gives you the opportunity the see the world’s largest ocean – the Pacific. You might not see all 63.8 million square miles of it, but you’ll likely still come away impressed.
Even if you’re an ocean veteran, an excursion there via Douglas County will expose you to new sights, opportunities to explore regional history and a wide array of recreational activities.
Start your trip from Roseburg or Sutherlin and head west via Hwy 138W. Along the way you’ll push through lush forests, meadows and farm land.
Early in the trip, you’ll pass through the small town of Elkton, where you can take a break for wine tasting and/or fantastic wood-fired pizza and Italian food at Tomaselli’s Pastry Mill and Café.
Enjoy your stop, but make sure to leave plenty of time for the rest of your day’s adventure. Your next stop is a little over a half an hour away in Reedsport, where you’ll find the Umpqua Discovery Center, which offers a fascinating trip back through time in “Tidewater Country.”
The totem pole out front will let you know you’ve arrived at your destination, where inside you can tour exhibits, watch videos, even participate in a simulated outdoor adventure while learning about the rich history and culture of the area.
From Reedsport it’s just another five miles to Winchester Bay, Douglas County’s gateway to the Pacific and home of an array of educational and recreational opportunities.
If you are still in the mood to absorb local history, your first stop should be the Umpqua River Lighthouse, the first lighthouse built on the Oregon Coast and one of nine remaining (in addition to two that were privately built and are not open to the public).
This is one of the few lighthouses visitors can still climb to the top of and see the inside of the light apparatus, which is still operational. The trip to the top requires you be part of a lighthouse tour, but the experience is well worth the time.
“Seeing the red and white prism spin and how the light reflects off the hundreds of panels gives you an appreciate not just for the job the lighthouse has, but the craftsmanship that went into the design.” (courtesy: Oregon.com)
You’ll also want to wander through the on-site museum, where you’ll learn about the history of Fort Umpqua, shipwrecks and the lighthouse’s historic lens.
If you like to get more active when you’re being leisurely, Winchester Bay offers a variety of things to do, whether you are there for just a day or a longer stay.
As the center of the Oregon Dunes Recreation area, Winchester Bay is considered the ATV dune buggy capital of the Pacific Coast.
Stop at the Dunes Visitor Center in Reedsport before you hit town for information, exhibits and a video introducing you to the dunes. Then get going. Several vendors in the area rent dune buggy quads and are happy to train first-timers on their use.
It’s a terrific way to explore the tallest sand dunes in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area. Reach the top and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
If you’re staying overnight, there are several campgrounds in the area and a beautiful RV park in Winchester Bay as well as coastal motel options.
Besides riding the dunes, there are scores of other activities to enjoy in Winchester Bay and at the Oregon Coast.
You can drop a pot in the water from the crab dock and see if you can lure any Dungeness or Red Rock aboard.
Grab and shovel and dig for soft shell, bay, butter, littleneck or gaper clams.
Go tide pooling, or just watch the sun set.
And, of course, it goes without saying you’ll need to take on walk on the beach. There’s an unwritten rule in Oregon that you can’t visit the coast and not walk on the beach.
So don’t be a rule breaker. Take off your shoes and dig your toes into an Oregon coast adventure, Douglas County style.