After ringing in the New Year in Newport, our game plan was a slow roll southward along the coast. With no real schedule driving us, we were basking in our freedom and our bounty of options, so we drove 20-miles down the road to Tillicum Beach and our first campsite of 2018. We had heard great things about both Tillicum Beach and the nearby town of Yachats, so in celebration of our autonomy we decided to check them out.Located on a low bluff above a lovely Oregon beach, Tillicum Beach is a great place to spend a few days. The campground has several dry camping sites that overlook the beach; however, thick bushes tend to block the view from the majority of the sites. There are electric and water sites on the inside of the loop and we wanted to top off our batteries while we could because we weren’t sure where we were headed next. While we couldn’t see the ocean from our electric site, we could hear the waves crashing on the beach throughout the night. We all enjoyed the easy access to the beach and Dash thoroughly enjoyed the ability to run free on the beach. After setting up camp and getting our beach frolicking out of the way, we headed into Yachats to get the lay of the land.
Beyond being quaint as all get-out, we can’t say much about Yachats. We would like to say something about it, but it seems that most businesses close-up for a few weeks in early January. The place felt like a ghost town or the well-maintained remnants of a zombie apocalypse. With very little to keep us in the area, and grey and rainy skies forecasted for the next few days, we opted to spend only one night at Tillicum and continue our way southward, opting to spend a few days amongst the Oregon Dunes.Stretching about 40-miles along the coast from Florence to Coos Bay, Oregon Dunes is one of the largest areas of temperate coastal dunes in the world (who knew?) We planned to establish our home base near the middle of the dunes at Reedsport’s Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. With only 60’ish miles between Tillicum Beach and Reedsport, we once again took our time on U.S. 101. About 25-miles south of Tillicum Beach we came to Heceta Head Lighthouse and decided to stop and check it out. We spent about an hour wandering around the lighthouse before continuing our journey south to our next lighthouse.
Located at the top of a 205-foot headland, Heceta Head Lighthouse is visible over 21-miles out to see and is the most powerful light on the Oregon coast. Access to the lighthouse is via the easy ½-mile long Heceta Lighthouse Trail. Oregon State Parks manages the facility and offers tours of the base of the lighthouse. Our stop happened to coincide with one their limited winter operating hours.
We spent the next four nights in Reedsport at the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. Besides its location in the Oregon Dunes, Umpqua Lighthouse State Park also boasted a cool lighthouse, a quiet lake, easy access to the quirky towns of Reedsport and Winchester Bay, and reasonable availability to winter Steelhead fly-fishing on nearby Umpqua River tributaries. The small fishing village of Winchester Bay presented several seafood restaurants and a fantastic little bakery. With about a dozen full hook-up campsites, Umpqua Lighthouse State Park was a wonderful small State Park that made an ideal off-season basecamp for our Oregon Dunes explorations.We stayed at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park until Saturday, January 6th, when we hooked up and continued south towards Port Orford and Cape Blanco State Park.