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article imageReview: Coos Bay Oregon beaches, lighthouses, hiking and biking

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By Gar Swaffar     Aug 23, 2012 in Travel
Coos Bay and Charleston, Oregon have super beaches, hiking and biking trails and of course plenty of lighthouses to enjoy.
One reason to go to the Coos Bay region of Oregon from the California Mother Lode is to 'beat the heat'.
105 degrees in the shade when leaving, and 10 hours later it was a balmy 58 degrees in the fog. Staying at a private RV park was what I called inexpensive, $35 a night, with showers and a three minute walk to the beach was hard to beat too!
Oceanside RV Park which is actually in Charleston, Ore., is a change from my usual pattern of finding a State Park to stay in, and I have to admit, the change was good. The park was full, but not overcrowded, and the amenities, including having a (very) small store with some basic items were everything I could have wanted.
The rates for tent camping were even better at $25 per night, and the real treat when tent camping in this RV park is the location of the sites. The tent sites sit on the edge of the dunes which are directly above the beach.
Cape Blanco Lighthouse in the fog
Cape Blanco Lighthouse in the fog
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The sounds of the surf, and seabirds are what you go to sleep with, and they're what you wake up to in the morning. Just be sure to bring a sleeping bag warm enough to camp in when the temperature dips into the high 40's or low 50's in the early morning hours.
The trailer sites all have full hookups, including cable TV and free wi-fi, for those who simply can't live without electronic entertainment. The park also has a largish yurt available for rent, which will sleep several, which also has amenities such as a refrigerator, kitchenette, microwave, tables and chairs, heating, lights and electricity, skylight and outdoor picnic table, plus a big screen TV.
Using the park as a base, there are lots of activities in the area, beach fishing is just a few minutes away, while clamming, and crabbing are also nearby.
For those who enjoy the coast and all it has to offer, this area has plenty of side trips to show off the natural beauty with.
Jetty at Coquille River near the lighthouse
Jetty at Coquille River near the lighthouse
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Cape Blanco Lighthouse in the fog
Cape Blanco Lighthouse in the fog
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Looking up at the three story spiral staircase in Cape Blanco Lighthouse
Looking up at the three story spiral staircase in Cape Blanco Lighthouse
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Hughes House  historical lightkeepers house near Port Orford
Hughes House, historical lightkeepers house near Port Orford
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A twenty minute ride south to Bullards Beach State park takes you to the Coquille River Lighthouse. Fifteen minutes south of Bullards Beach, will get you to Cape Blanco Lighthouse, which also has the original light keeper's house open for tours. The Hughes House tour is a real treat for those who enjoy older homes, which still have period furnishings, and also for the gents who enjoy the way older homes are constructed, and trimmed out, with gingerbread trim and attention to detail rarely found even in custom housing today.
The story behind the Hughes family and how they turned the light keeper's job at Cape Blanco into a full time business, including a 2,000 acre ranch is a history buffs dream.
Historical is nice, but picture washing your clothes in this.
1900 Gravity Washer
1900 Gravity Washer
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Dining in the Coos Bay and Charleston area can be grand or very casual and everything in between. The Mill Casino sitting on the bay front is a great example of what can be done with good food in a really nice location. Dining while overlooking the bay was enjoyable in the extreme, and the rock fish was really fresh.
All in all, the area has a lot to offer both the casual tourist, and the dedicated sports enthusiast. Biking and hiking trails are plentiful, with an especially nice set of biking trails at the Coquille River Light House park. From oval track and drag racing at the Coos Bay Speedway. Jetboat tours, dune buggy rentals, and areas for ATV's all are close by to the RV park. If you can't find something to do, or have fun with, it's because you chose to sit and enjoy a bit of quiet beach time.
For hikers and mountain bikers, one trail system to at least take a look at would be the Winchester Trail System. 17 miles of trails allow all levels of proficiency to enjoy the scenery and the sights. There are even 19 separate birding areas for those who enjoy the activity of finding a new bird they've never seen in the wild.
This area has some of the most pleasant mountain biking trails I've ever seen. It seems to stay lush and green most of the time, and even now when the locals list the fire danger as high, the trails are dusty, but the landscape is still the typical Oregon ferns and undergrowth under the forested portions.
From any perspective, whether summer, fall, spring or winter, the Oregon Coast has the moderate temperatures which allow year round enjoyment. This was one trip which this traveler will do again.
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