Get ‘Wild’ on Oregon’s Adventure Coast

by Tamara Muldoon 

When the winter doldrums set in, take a trip to Oregon’s Adventure Coast—the region surrounding Coos Bay, North Bend and Charleston. Oregon’s south coast provides a getaway alternative for those who enjoy getting outdoors in winter but are not into snow sports. Winter daytime temperatures on the south coast are mild, averaging in the 50s Fahrenheit, and freezing temperatures are rare.   

Options abound for outdoor fun here, even in winter. Experience the wild side of nature with storm watching and wildlife viewing. Have a wild time riding sand dunes in an ATV or racing a bike along Whiskey Run’s single-track trails. And, when you’re ready for creature comforts, these communities have everything you need.   

Wild Waves  

The steep coastal cliffs within Shore Acres and Cape Arago State Parks offer the perfect viewpoint for safely watching spectacular crashing waves, sometimes reaching heights above 100 feet. The best viewing isn’t necessarily during storms or high tide. Check the website to know when to visit; then select Oregon South and Bastendorff Beach and look for wave heights above 15 feet.   


Likewise, these coastal bluffs are ideal for spotting gray whales as they make their annual migration to and from Mexico. From mid-December to mid-January the whales go southward, then beginning in March they return north with their calves.    

Spy on seals and sea lions lounging on rocky islands at Simpson Reef viewpoint in Cape Arago State Park. Bring binoculars or a spotting scope for the best viewing.   

Enjoy a hike along quiet trails through the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve or Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, both outstanding birdwatching areas.   

Wild Rides  

Experience the thrill of exploring North America’s largest area of coastal sand dunes. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area just north of Coos Bay boasts more than 32,000 acres of sand dunes, forest, lakes and beach. Spinreel Dune Buggy and ATV Rental ( offers a variety of vehicles carrying from one to four persons. Rental fees include safety equipment and orientation.   

Whiskey Run Mountain Bike Trail, 15 minutes south of Coos Bay, features 62 trails covering more than 30 miles. There are trails suitable for all experience levels from beginner to expert. Open year-round, Whiskey Run Rentals ( delivers mountain bikes and even e-bikes to the trailhead. Please note, it is not recommended to ride when trails are wet as the surface can get slippery. 

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