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The Viewfinder: Capturing the Oregon Coast

By Gary Randall

The Viewfinder: Capturing the Oregon Coast

I just returned from a few days on the Southern Oregon coast and the epic California redwood forests. I have photographed many beautiful shorelines and that stretch of the Pacific Ocean shoreline stands up to them all. It’s rugged and dramatic with rocky sea stacks and forests that meet the rocky shores and crashing waves. I love it there the best in the Springtime, when everything is green and the wildflowers are blooming, especially the rhododendrons that grow among the redwood trees.
That whole area is familiar to me which gives me comfort while I’m there. Some of my earliest memories are of being a young boy with my family and camping under the canopy of the towering, giant, ancient redwoods. I know my way around but it still feels like an adventure into the depths of the natural world every time I’m there. There’s not much that’s more timeless than the crashing ocean waves or an ancient, moss and fern filled forest.
During my time there I always split my stay between the towns of Bandon and Brookings. Bandon Beach is an excellent place to wander around among the sea stacks and caves. I like to spend several days there especially if there’s a sunset expected. After I leave Bandon I head south to Brookings which is a perfect place as a base to explore the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park just across the border in Crescent City California.
While in Brookings I always visit Meyers Creek Beach at Pistol River, which is another beautiful sea stack littered beach, and is another one of my favorite places to go during a sunset. Brookings is also the perfect place to visit some beautiful overlooks along the highway such as Arch Rock Viewpoint and Natural Bridges Viewpoint. Both are worth stopping for the views of some of the beautiful sea stacks with unique ocean weathered arches.
Brookings is very close to the California border, Crescent City and the redwood trees. A person could relocate to Crescent City but I hang out in Brookings and take day trips to the big trees. I love taking a short hike in the morning on Damnation Creek trail in hopes of a collision of the sunrise from the east with the fog from the ocean to the west. That’s when the conditions are right for the rays of sun to cut through the fog creating epic beams of light that scatter through the ancient trees. It’s a breathtaking event.
Once I’m done at Damnation Creek Trail I head towards the Jedediah Smith Redwoods. I love to take my time wandering down Howland Hill Road, stopping along the way for short hikes into beautiful groves, especially Stout Grove, photographing the forest along the way. The road is a well traveled dirt road but it’s easily traversed by most any vehicle.
When I’m finished with my trip I head back to The Mountain via Highway 199 along the beautiful Smith River towards Grants Pass then home via Interstate-5 or, if I have the time, I will head to Crater Lake and take the scenic route home via Central Oregon on Highway 97 stopping at places along the east side of the Cascades. It’s a beautiful alternative to the stressful run up I-5.
I’ve been taking this route for quite some time now – enough time that I’ve probably created a rut, but if I’m going to be in a rut, there aren’t many ruts as beautiful. The whole area that I’ve described can be explored over and over again with new places to be discovered on your next trip. When you go, don’t forget to take your camera. I’m sure that you will find plenty to take a beautiful photo of.

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