Sunday, June 5, 2011

Along the Oregon Coast State Parks.....

I started counting all the state parks, state natural areas, state recreation areas/sites, state scenic viewpoints, and state heritage sites along highway 101 and got to 68. Wait a minute, there are more, I just lost count! We got a copy of the Oregon State Parks Guide at one of the welcome centers, and it lists all the terrific things to see and do while on the coast or in the beautiful state of Oregon at these parks and scenic areas. Another terrific guide is called Mile-By-Mile Guide to Highway 101, Oregon Coast. It's got the best places to whale watch, where to take the best photo shots, and lists of beautiful hikes.

We decided to drive a little ways north of our location at Cape Blanco State Park to explore three more state parks and a scenic view area--Face Rock scenic vista, Simpson Reef, Cape Arago State Park, Shore Acres State Park and Cape Arago State we didn't go inside all of these parks, but we did stop at several scenic views within the parks....You really need WEEKS to explore these parks along the coast--we had ONE DAY! Shore Acres has an incredible formal botanical garden and a hike 1/4 mile south of Shore Acres that leads you to a WWII radar observation point hidden on a hillside but we had to save that for a future visit, we were pressed for time...

Simpson Reef and Shell Island are in the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The offshore rocks, islands and reefs provide breeding and resting areas for seabirds and mammals. There were FOUR different species of seals and sea lions resting on the rocks the day we went....There were elephant seals, harbor seals, California sea lions and Steller sea lions....I didn't have the best camera with me for capturing them close up, but it was cool to see the different kinds. California sea lions are the ones that make the barking sound. They will share the same rocks as the Steller sea lions. They have noticeable sun bleached bumps on their heads that grow larger as they get older. The males migrate north after breeding season and the females and pups stay in California. It must have been breeding season, because here's a sign marking a hiking trail closed that went down to the ocean's edge.....
The Steller sea lions are the largest of the sea lions. They breed in Oregon during the summer but not here at Cape Arago.  The males weigh about a ton, and the females about 600 pounds. The pups will be born in June and July and weigh about 40 pounds at birth.
a tiny section of seals--hundreds lie on another section of Simpson Reef
The elephant seals are at Cape Arago all months of the year. Sometimes they look like logs, (we saw a LOT of those--they look like they are DEAD!) and they lie on the beach in front of Shell Island, right up against the base of it. They are born elsewhere, but hang out at Cape Arago to rest and molt. They lose not only their fur but the upper layers of their skin as well! Ew-w-w-w! I'm glad we weren't up close to the smell is something else! These guys are the largest of the seal family and the deepest diving mammal. They can dive as deep as 4,000 feet! They feed on hake, sharks, rays, and deep water squid.

The harbor seals, the cutest ones in the bunch are year round residents. The pregnant females and then the birth of the pups causes them to use different areas to rest and that's why we saw the trail closed off which was near the breeding area. I didn't know harbor seal pups can swim at birth, but they do. The seals eat quite a variety of fish...They are born in April and May, so the trail pictured will be closed till June 30 to give them their space....

They say grey whales can be seen off Cape Arago State Park...that some of the younger ones hang around for the summer and can be seen often feeding out beyond Simpson Reef...but we didn't see any today....

We did see the Cape Arago lighthouse... but this is as close as we got to it today, not very close! It's not open to the public but you can see it from an overlook at Sunset Bay which is where we saw it from.

The last thing we did was visit Face Rock....if you can visualize this, it's a woman's head, her hair back behind her as if she were resting on a pillow, looking up towards the sky, she's angled towards the sea. It's a profile--eye, nose, lips...I saw it immediately, but Eldy wasn't so sure he could see it.....this was a scenic viewpoint, and it was BLUSTERY! We didn't stay too long. Wish we had more time to explore these beautiful parks but we're going to be on the move to our next destination soon. Tomorrow we are going to the sea lion caves--sounds interesting! See you there!

View after view after spectacular view at the Oregon State Parks on the coast


  1. Once you pointed it out, I could see her face too. It's like she's doing a back float.

    A Arizona Holiday

  2. I have driven the Oregon coast before and it is just beautiful...

  3. Just been catching up on your blog and am not sure how I'm gong to keep a record of all this great Oregon State Park information so I'll have it when I need it.

    I lOVE state parks. Can't wait to get there where you are. Thanks for all the information and pictures.