Winter Road Trip to Oregon’s Adventure Coast

The Southern Oregon Coast is home to some of the best storm watching and crabbing anywhere. And January is prime time for all that and more.

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For some reason, even among many native Northwesterners, there’s a school of thought that there’s no real reason to visit the coast anytime beyond the boundaries of summer. That assessment would be wildly inaccurate. Additionally, and perhaps due to proximity to Portland over anything else, the northern Oregon coast sees the lion’s share of love while the southern coast sits in relative obscurity. That would be an oversight bordering on shameful. For a cadre of reasons, the “off” season of winter is arguably one of the best times to visit the coast and the southern Oregon coast in particular. Here are just some of the reasons that the Coos Bay, North Bend and Charleston area, collectively known as Oregon’s Adventure Coast, makes for the perfect Portland Getaway, right now. Starting with the drive.

Heading south on I-5, the total drive time from Portland is just a shade shy of 4 hours. It feels quicker, however, as a good chunk of the drive is spent either tracing the scenic Umpqua River through the thickly forested Coast Range or paralleling the Pacific Ocean in the home stretch to Coos Bay.

The uncrowded natural beauty of the area is perhaps the main draw, punctuated by the best storm watching anywhere in the Pacific Northwest - and it’s not up for debate. Shore Acres State Park, just south west of Coos Bay has become the polestar for storm watchers from across the country. When conditions are right, swells can create wave crashes that can be up to 300 feet high. The jutting, sandstone rock formations, and coastal anomalies of the park make for some epic photogenic backdrops and a landscape ripe for exploration. But most notably, the opportunity to take in some winter storm watching that leaves a life-long impression on anyone privileged to witness the spectacle firsthand, with numerous crescendos occurring throughout the winter storm season.

Beyond storm watching, there are truly impressive hiking options in the area. The South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve boasts a mix of traditional trails and boardwalks that visit a diverse landscape with eye-widening scenery and surprises around every corner. There are a handful of trailheads located around the Reserve, but perhaps the best place to start is at the Interpretive Center. The trails are customizable, with a number of loop or out and back options. Some trails provide more elevation gain than others, but everything is family-friendly, and some paths are also dog-friendly.

Winter is also one of the best times to visit waterfalls - when the rains ensure that creeks and rivers are flowing robustly and the mosses and lichen achieve their peak greens. And one of the best one-two waterfall punches in the state can be found about 45 minutes outside of Coos Bay at Golden and Silver Falls State Park. A pair of trails lead to dueling views of the 225-foot Silver Falls, spilling over a rounded dome of bedrock in mesmerizing strands of water that dance through midair to rocks below. Meanwhile, Golden Falls, a 254-foot monster cascade, is accessed via a stroll through an impressive grove of Myrtlewood trees.

Back in town, enjoy a post-hike beer at the Liberty Pub, the 7 Devils Brewing Company Pub, or the new 7 Devils Waterfront Alehouse. For more of a sit-down dining affair, check out some of the best sushi on the entire coast at the Tokyo Bistro, some seriously old-school awesomeness at the Hilltop House, or the comfort food meets worldwide culinary influence at Restaurant O.

The Oregon coast is also renowned for its Dungeness crab. And the town of Charleston is one of the best spots around to procure the tasty crustacean. Even if you’ve never gone crabbing before, the learning curve isn’t terribly steep. Check the tides, pick up a license at Bi-Mart or Wal-Mart, or your favorite sporting goods store, get some gear and instruction at Basin Tackle, and throw some rings in the water from the dock. That said, if you’re more of the “let’s just show up, eat, drink, and be merry” sort, then the Annual Charleston Crab Feed might be your jam. This year’s event will be held on February 12th and features an array of crab dinner offerings courtesy of the over 900 pounds of that sweet, sweet, Dungeness crab that will be on hand. Get tickets early!

Finally, winter on Oregon’s Adventure Coast is especially wallet-friendly. With a number of properties including The Mill Casino Hotel & RV Park, Best Western Holiday Hotel, Edgewater Inn, and Motel 6, offering a two-night stay at a 15% Off Storm Watching Lodging Special from January 1st, 2022 through February 28, 2022. Considering all of that, there might not be a better time or place for an Oregon Coast Vacation than winter along Oregon’s Adventure Coast.