Cape Blanco reaches toward the sea as the westernmost point on the Oregon Coast. The top of the bluff gets slammed with coastal winds and all of the trees have a permanent leaning shape from enduring the storms each winter. Though the area was used for farms and dairy cows long ago, it is now the home of deer, rabbits, quail, and a host of wildflowers. The Sixes river meets the ocean in the park and is still home to wild Chinook Salmon and cutthroat trout. Tide pools host mussels, anemones, sea urchins and colorful starfish.
Visitors can tour inside the lighthouse, one of eleven in the state, which has stood since 1870. The bluff is 245 feet tall with steep sides dividing large sandy beaches to the north and south. There is also the historic Hughes House to tour, the only remnant of a once large farming operation in the area.
The campground is one of the few first-come first-served stops left on the Oregon Coast, and as a result draws mainly tent campers and conversion vans. The sites are large enough to accommodate motorhomes and 5th wheels, but that crowd has grown very accustomed to touring with the guarantee of reservations.
There are twenty miles of hiking trails through the tangled woods and along the open dunes. Many of these trails are shared with horseback riders from the park's large horsecamp. Cape Blanco is one of the few parks with vehicle access to the shore still open, so you may be surprised to see SUV's and trucks cruising the beach south of the lighthouse.
If you've made it here, this is probably just one of several stops in your travels along the Oregon Coast. Regular visitors and locals consider Cape Blanco State Park an undiscovered gem, and you can probably chalk up the lack of promotion to the remote location and lack of reservation system. We think you should chance it!
RV Rentals in Cape Blanco State Park
Transportation in Cape Blanco State Park
You've already made it this far, so you'll understand the narrow, hilly, and windy nature of HWY-101. The park does get hit by severe winter storms, so it is not unusual to find small potholes in the road and uneven spots in the parking areas. It's paved, but this isn't a city RV park; expect a little rustic flavor. The winds can exceed 60 MPH. Be thoughtful about vent lids, antennas, and awning. Button everything up tight.
Campgrounds and parking in Cape Blanco State Park
Campsites in Cape Blanco State Park
Bandon / Port Orford KOA
Visit the award-winning Bandon/Port Orford KOA on eight shaded acres near Floras Lake and the Rogue River. Sites include full hookups with cable and Wi-Fi. Some sites have deluxe patios. Campground amenities include a pool and hot tub, miniature train rides in season, a playground, recreational facilities, bike rentals, a dog park, and planned activities. Breakfast is available, there are ice cream socials on the weekends, and pizza can be delivered to individual sites on the weekends in season.
Cape Blanco State Park Campground
First-come first-served camping surrounded by thick wind-blown coastal forests. There are 52 sites with power and water. There are hot showers and regular toilets in the restrooms. It is VERY important to note that no dump facilities exist at this park currently. The septic system is closed for repairs. The campground does fill up on summer weekends, so be sure to check in early if you haven't made other plans. A camp host is on site for ice and firewood sales.
Seasonal activities in Cape Blanco State Park
This park is unusually well equipped for horses. There is a complete horse camp with brand new steel corrals. There are 19 miles of trails to ride, not including the endless pleasure of riding on the beach itself. There are eight designated sites for horses, potable water, picnic tables, fire rings and a porta-potty on site. There are hot showers and full restrooms at the family camp. The park provides a special brochure (also available online) which shows the area open to horses and some of the trail distances. Fields of blue lupines are on display in the early summer, just as trails are starting to dry out.
Beachcombing - Agates
Winter storms are fun because they are constantly changing the shape of the shoreline, but the super-low tides happen in the summer and give you more time, and more exposed beach to walk. Agates are prolific on Oregon Coast beaches. Once you spot a couple, you'll start to see them everywhere. It's easy to get the kids hooked on the agate hunt. The beach north of the lighthouse, toward the Sixes River, is best for rocks and tide pools.
Drive on the Beach
If you've had the chance to see old photos of the Oregon Coast, one thing really stands out - cars on the beach. Going to the beach used to be synonymous with driving on the beach, and if you come with a vehicle capable of getting past the soft sand, you'll see why. In fact, you'll never want the day to end. It's that much fun. The entire beach to the south of the lighthouse is vehicle accessible. Check with the park on the best route and to make sure it's still open and don't forget to rinse the underside of your vehicle when you're through - the salt causes rust FAST.
Fish the Sixes River
The state park offers a special opportunity to fish the Sixes River. Because of the geography it is typically hard to find access to the Sixes. The park gives you the best of both worlds - tideland access with more generous fishing regulations, and river bank fishing, all close to the comforts of camp. All of the fish in the Sixes river are wild, which can mean trophy size Chinook Salmon and steelhead in winter. The rains have to flood the beach enough to open a path for the fish working back upstream around November. There are also trout on the upper parts of the river for fly fishermen in summer. Check with ODFW for regulations.
Climb to the top of the Cape Blanco lighthouse for only $2! Visitors are guided by friendly and knowledgeable volunteers from the Cape Blanco Heritage Society. See the Fresnel lens up close and consider that this light is visible over twenty miles away. A small gift shop works to raise money to help preserve this historic place, as well as the nearby Hughes House which is also open to tours. The lighthouse is open from April through October and is a must see.
It's windy, it's rainy, and waves will hit the rocks below so hard that spray will shoot up twenty feet in the air. As all the locals know, being outside in the stormy winter weather is a special kind of fun. It also makes your evening relaxation feel extra-well-deserved. Dress to stay dry and warm and you'll be able to explore wherever your curiosity beckons. Do be careful as everything is slippery and some banks are unstable by the water. If your camera isn't waterproof, don't bother. The salt spray in the air can damage your phone very fast.