Friday, June 3, 2016

Shore Acres State Park

(Continuing the recap of my late April trip to Bandon and the Southern Oregon coast....) 

Back to the ocean!

The campground host at Bullards Beach State Park, once she'd warmed up to me, became a wealth of local information.  One of the places highly recommended was Shore Acres State Park.  At first I wasn't too wild about driving back towards Coos Bay, but after hearing glowing descriptions of dramatic sandstone cliffs, crashing waves, and a gorgeous English garden, I was sold.

Dramatic coastal cliffs

So day three of my Southern Oregon Coast adventure had me rising early and heading back north towards the town of Coos Bay.  Shore Acres State Park was located 13 miles south and west of town, on a narrow, twisting road.  En route I passed the idyllic fishing village of Charleston, and Sunset Bay State Park, with it's lovely beach in a sheltered, cliff-rimmed cove.

Lots of wave action!

But Shore Acres State Park was today's destination.  Parking my car in it's massive lot, I grabbed my camera gear and headed first to the ocean overlook.

The entire area was once owned by Louis Simpson, a local timber baron.  In 1906, he built a huge mansion above these cliffs as a Christmas present to his wife.  After the first home burned to the ground, Simpson rebuilt an even grander replacement.  But financial losses in the 1930s caused his house and grounds to fall into disrepair.  In 1942, Simpson's beloved Shore Acres Estate was deeded to the state of Oregon for use as a public park.

Today, a tiny glass-walled observation building sits on the former mansion site.  A long walkway extends across it's clifftop, providing visitors stellar views of unique sea cliffs and pounding waves below.  It was the perfect ocean view - I perched myself against the wall and took in the panorama.  I became mesmerized watching the churning sea splash against the rocks.  I even made a short video so you all could experience it too.

The formal garden

What a place to site your home!  This rugged coastline was some of the most scenic and dramatic I'd seen.  The tan sandstone cliffs were comprised of weirdly tilted strata, eroded into interesting shapes. Huge waves smashed into the protruding rock, creating giant splashes.  I could've spent the entire day just watching waves.  But more lovely attractions awaited... 

Rhododendrons in bloom!

After a long wave-watching session, I tore myself away from the mansion site, and headed towards the park's famous garden.

Bridge to the pond

Simpson's wife created a fabulous formal English garden on their estate.  She had sailing ships bring exotic trees, flowering plants, and shrubs from around the world.

Brilliant red rhodies

Although the Simpson mansion didn't survive the years, happily the garden has been lovingly restored to it's former glory.  This five acre site boasts a rose-testing plot, Japanese lily pond, and wide variety of flowering plants - with something reaching peak bloom every month of the year.

Orange rhodies

Lucky me - I hit peak rhododendron bloom!  Entering the garden through one of its many gates (to keep hungry deer out) I was instantly overwhelmed.  Rhody flowers of every imaginable color were everywhere!

Pond reflections

So. Many. Colors.  I'd never seen such a wide variety of rhododendrons!

Beauty everywhere

After regaining my senses (and snapping a bazillion photos) I wandered down the path to the lily pond.  Wow, did those flowering bushes make some wonderful reflections!

Two-tone rhodies

Not only wildly gorgeous, the pond was a peaceful place to sit and contemplate.  The surrounding landscaping was impeccable.

Color-lined paths

I then wandered the long walkways, lined with rhody bushes in a kaleidoscope of colors.

Ocean in the background

From one end of the garden, you could glimpse the ocean's blue waters above the fence.

Lovely pink rhodies

From the park's website, I learned that daffodils and spring bulbs bloom first (in February), followed by tulips, rhodies and azaleas, flowering annuals and perennials, rose bushes, dahlias, and finally, Thanksgiving through New Year's, the place is decked with thousands of holiday lights.

The Japanese lily pond was beautiful

I must've spent over an hour, just wandering the grounds.  Such a gorgeous place!  (And I won't even begin to tell you how many photos I took)

Stone sculpture

But the harsh midday light began to make photography difficult, so I finally convinced myself to move on.  Not a huge deal, there was lots more to explore.

Simpson Cove

A short trail took visitors down to Simpson Cove, a tiny beach bordered by tall sandstone cliffs.

Churning waters

A lovely spot for a picnic!  Or perfect to just sit and watch crashing waves.

Wave watching at Simpson Cove

One large rock in particular seemed to catch the incoming breakers.  I witnessed some dramatic splashes, and even caught a couple on my GoPro.

This trail continued further along the cliffs, so of course, I had to see where it went.  A side path took me out on another panoramic viewpoint.  One direction, I had a great glimpse of the former Simpson homesite.  The opposite looked out towards a huge rocky peninsula.  Waves crashed on all sides.  And then I noticed two fisherman perched on top.  Can you see them in the photo below?

Can you spot the fisherman?

How about this photo?  I couldn't believe someone would place themselves in such a precarious place.  One slip and you'd be a goner!  I sure hope the fishing was good enough to warrant risking your life!

Precarious perch

After leaving the death wish fisherman, I continued further down the trail.  It was nearing noon, and the day was getting hot.  I was just about to turn back, when I begin to hear sea lions barking.  It sounded fairly close, so I followed my ears.  I ended up at an overlook off the main road.  Hundreds of sea lions were spread out on a distant group of rocky reefs.

Sea lion grand central

I spoke with a nice couple who excitedly told me they'd just spotted a gray whale at Cape Arago, the next overlook down the road.  But by then I had a mile and a half walk back, and decided not to venture any further.  When I did finally reach my car, it was after lunch, and Shore Acres was crowded with people.  Hot, hungry, and ready to ditch the crowds, I decided to head back into Bandon.  Tony's Crab Shack, and it's delicious fish tacos, were calling my name.

Rugged coastline

A most excellent way to spend the morning, I'd discovered yet another gem in the Oregon State Park system.  One to add to my "must visit again" list for sure!

My final night in Bandon, I had one more chance to capture the sunset.  And it turned out to be the best one of all.  Check back for my next post and you'll see why!

Sharing with:  Floral Friday Fotos , Scenic Weekends and Weekend Reflections and Through My Lens


  1. Wauu.. really wonderful scenes. The photos are lovely and I like the reflection too.

  2. Fabulous scenic shots of the rocks and the sea as well as the flowers in the garden. Hope you will pop in to see mine, (published yesterday). Have a WONDERFUL week ahead.

  3. Espectacular estas fotografias e vídeos deste magnifico parque.
    Um abraço e bom fim de semana.

  4. It is definitely a gorgeous place. I love all those amazing rhodies! Thanks for the abundance of photo. The crashing surf is wonderful! :-)

  5. Beautiful and glorious series, Linda! What a gorgeous place! I loved the videos...I have always found the sounds of the ocean very soothing! Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. I have such fond memories of visiting Shore Acres...and you captured it beautifully!

  7. Very nice- not your typical state park garden !

  8. What extraordinary beauty - both the stunning shoreline and the lovely English garden. You got some great shots on what looks like a perfect day.

  9. Gwen & I are always looking for new areas to explore and this looks wonderful. Can't wait to get a chance to get over there. As always your photos are amazing and love your descriptions and dialog. Thanks.

  10. What a gorgeous place.. love the vibrancy. And I never tire of your exquisite ocean views.
    Great post!

  11. Beautiful photos. Who would have thought it? Very nice.

  12. Gorgeous! I love seeing your part of the world through your lens!

  13. How pretty! I'll have to go there one day.

  14. My kind of garden. Reminds me of Hearst Castle at San Simeon with the story of a rich maverick carving out a private paradise from the wilderness then eventually losing it to the state for the benefit of the general public.
    The world would be a much poorer place without this gradual transfer in almost every country from strictly off limits to an attraction for everyone.

  15. There's almost too much in this post for me to take in. What a fabulous place, you must have been so happy to be there. I love rhododendrons so would be in heaven in that garden. Thanks for the videos and your beautiful photos. Some fishermen do crazy things, don't they?

  16. What a spectacular piece of coastline! And what a gorgeous garden! Love the colourful Rhodies.

  17. So many sea lions in the one place must have been amazing to see... and hear. Loved all your photos.

  18. I think you take the best wide angle ocean beach scenes! You go to the most beautiful places. I like the flowers and the reflections also. It looks similar to our Butchart Gardens. I must keep a list of these places.

  19. Not often you can find the crashing ocean and a serene garden in such proximity, in fact I can't think of anywhere else. The Rhododendrons are spectacular indeed.

  20. What a perfect day to be in this perfect perfect place, taking your, more than perfect photographs.
    I would love to spend hours amongst those rhodies.

  21. Gorgeous views Linda, thanks for taking me along.

  22. Those Orange Rhodies caught my eye right away! What a stunning close up of them. What a great day you picked for your visit there! :)

  23. I would love to visit all of that. The beach was my favorite pictures tho.

  24. The churning waters are so dramatic! I love the garden photos too.

  25. Lovely shots!
    Many thanks for taking part in the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

  26. Keep clicking...these are beautiful!

  27. fabulous. love the videos. and oh the blue water and gorgeous garden. a photographers paradise.

  28. Gorgeous! As much as I love the cliffs and the waves, I think the rhodies are the stars of this post.


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