After spending a good portion of the morning wandering around uber-scenic Cape Ferrelo (if you missed that post, it's right here), I hopped back into my car to explore the rest of Southern Oregon's Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.
To recap, this state-desigated scenic corridor is a 12.6-mile long linear "park" squeezed between the Pacific Ocean and Hwy 101 north of Brookings, Oregon. Showcasing this fabulously scenic stretch of coastline, numerous beaches, short trails, and viewpoints can be accessed from the highway.
However, I learned the hard way some of the parking areas aren't well marked, and consequently zipped past House Rock Viewpoint before noticing the pull out. So I continued on to Whalehead Beach, which happened to be next in line. Not wanting to miss another stop, I paid close attention to the signs and road shoulder, and successfully located the very steep side road leading to this lovely beach.
|Seagulls on the beach|
The sky was still moody and overcast, but at least it wasn't raining. I parked in the nearly deserted lot and made my way towards Whalehead Beach's sandy shoreline. A huge flock of seagulls were roosting at the water's edge, and I spent the first several minutes trying to capture their antics.
|Lots of driftwood|
This beach had lots of interesting offshore sea stacks (huge rocks jutting up from the water) and a dense coastal forest carpeted the bluffs above.
|Walking the beach|
I shared this beach with just a couple of other people the entire time, and very much enjoyed the solitude. It was nice to walk along the firm sand at water's edge, watch huge waves crash over large sea stacks, and photograph to my heart's content without waiting for people to move out of the way.
But after an hour of sauntering, more people began arriving. Time to move on!
|Path to Natural Bridges|
The next stop on my "tour de Boardman" was the Natural Bridges Cove Viewpoint. A short trail through a beautiful, fern-filled coastal forest led to a wooden platform. Below were two large arched rock formations, former collapsed caves eroded by wave action.
|Natural Bridges - Amazing!|
Those arches were a really amazing sight! The deep green seawater surrounding the scenic cove made for a lovely setting. Then I noticed a man walking on top of an arch. How did he get there?
|Can you spot the man on the arch?|
|Magical green forest floor|
The most northern overlook on the Boardman Scenic Corridor was Arch Rock Viewpoint and picnic area. This was my next stop, and it was high noon by the time I pulled into it's spacious parking lot. By now, all of the visitors had converged here, and the place was hopping.
A short trail led out to multiple ocean viewpoints, past another gorgeous coastal forest. Every viewpoint was swarming with people, and that combined with harsh midday light meant terrible photographic conditions. There was one nice arched rock, but it wasn't nearly as spectacular as the formations at Natural Bridges Cove.
|Trail to Thunder Cove|
Now that I'd reached the northernmost point of the Boardman Scenic Corridor, it was time to retrace the route back south and pick up some of the viewpoints I'd missed. Some of the short trails were minimally signed, or even unmarked, so it took a bit of cautious driving and eagle eyes to spot these lesser-known attractions.
|Lovely coastal forest|
I parked my car at the first pullout south of Arch Rock. A tiny homemade sign indicated a 10 minute walk to a nearby viewpoint. My guidebook mentioned this was an overlook into Thunder Cove.
|Amazing views from Thunder Rock|
Although some climbing was involved, I found it a pleasant walk through another spectacular coastal old-growth forest. Then the forest gave way to a grassy headland - with the most amazing view.
|Lovely blue sea|
By now the clouds had finally blown away, and sunshine streamed down upon the ocean. It glistened a brilliant blue-green. Several large sea stacks and other scenic rocks rose up from the water. It was a photographer's paradise!
As I was capturing all this lovely scenery with my camera, another couple and their dogs emerged from the forest. We exchanged greetings and then the woman mentioned she and her husband had been married on this very spot. They asked me to take their picture, which of course I gladly did. Then, snapping a couple final images of the wonderful view for myself, I left the couple alone to enjoy their lunch, bottle of wine, and memories.
Back on the road, another gravel parking area enticed me enough to pull over. There were more of the same ocean views, but this viewpoint had a bunch of bright red flowers - perfect foreground subjects!
|Tribute to the Father of Oregon State Parks|
On my return trip, I was able to spot House Rock Viewpoint in time to pull off the highway. It was kind of a disappointment....tall trees partially blocked the ocean views. But a large rock placed in the middle of a grassy knoll bore a plaque honoring Samuel H. Boardman, who, as superintendent of the Oregon state parks, was instrumental in preserving many of Oregon's spectacular landscapes. I'm so thankful there were conservation-minded people like him around who saw the value in saving these unique natural treasures.
|Bright colored petals|
My final stop was at Lone Ranch Beach. By now this area was full of people and the wind had begun to kick up.
|Huge wave at Lone Ranch Beach|
I stayed long enough to capture some pretty pink flowers blooming near the parking area, photograph a few huge waves crashing on offshore rocks, and surprise a little ground squirrel mid-chew.
|Caught this critter in mid-chew|
Then it was back to my yurt for a little R 'n R. But on my final night at Harris Beach, I wanted to be sure and capture one more sunset. Where to go?
|Evening light at Lone Ranch Beach|
I decided to head back to Lone Ranch Beach. Although the sun wasn't scheduled to set until nearly 8 pm, I arrived a couple hours early, thinking I'd spend the time photographing the coastline.
But...I didn't count on the wind. It was absolutely howling - cold, blowing sand everywhere.
|Hiding behind a rock to escape the wind|
It was miserable. To escape the cold blasts, I ended up ducking behind a large rock and venturing out for a few minutes at a time to catch low evening light illuminating the beach.
|Low light on the sand|
I almost didn't make it to sunset. It was very tempting to just go back and spend the evening reading in my yurt. But, again I reminded myself I'd come here to take photographs. I could read my book any other time.
My persistence paid off when I was rewarded with another spectacular ocean sunset.
|Another fabulous sunset!|
A wonderful way to end to my last night on the southern Oregon coast. Despite the wind and rain, it had been a great couple days of exploration. Tomorrow, however, I was headed north for one final stop, the city of Bandon - my favorite place on Oregon coast. Come along with me in my next post as I revisit this special town.