CAPE ARAGO STATE PARK
Cape Arago may be the end of the road (the road out of Coos Bay goes no further), but it's really only the beginning if you want to explore the southern Oregon coast.
Located at the end of Cape Arago Highway about 15 miles southwest of Coos Bay, Cape Arago is a scenic headland jutting into the Pacific Ocean. Long used by native Americans, Cape Arago was first sighted by Europeans during one of Sir Francis Drake's expeditions in the late 1500s. Modern visitors can scan the horizon for migrating whales and other marine mammals, as well as fishing boats and ships entering and leaving nearby Coos Bay.
The south cove trail leads down to a sandy beach and superior tidepools where you can visit intertidal plants and animals (but please enjoy them with your eyes only). The north cove trail provides access for fishing, beachcombing, and viewing the off-shore colonies of seals and sea lions at Shell Island -- a designated National Wildlife Refuge. The trail is closed March 1- June 30 to protect seal pups. Picnic tables, restrooms and a gazebo shelter are available for daytime use.
Cape Arago, located on the southern Oregon coast, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Coos and Lower Umpqua people who relied on its abundant natural resources for sustenance.
In 1775, Spanish explorer Bruno de Heceta became one of the first Europeans to lay eyes upon Cape Arago during his expedition along the Pacific Northwest coastline. However, it wasn't until much later in 1850 when Captain John Tichenor arrived with settlers from California that permanent European settlement began in this region.
The cape quickly gained importance due to its strategic location overlooking both Coos Bay and Charleston Harbor. In response to growing maritime traffic along these waters, a lighthouse was constructed atop Gregory Point at Cape Arago in 1866. This iconic structure served as an essential navigational aid for ships entering or leaving these treacherous coastal waters.
Over time, various industries emerged around Cape Arago including logging and fishing which further contributed to local development. As tourism grew throughout Oregon's scenic coastline during the early twentieth century so did interest in preserving areas like Cape Arago for public enjoyment.
Recognizing its ecological significance and stunning beauty, efforts were made towards conservation resulting in portions of land being designated as state parkland over several decades starting from mid-1930s onwards under different legislative acts passed by authorities concerned about protecting valuable ecosystems found within this unique coastal environment
Today visitors can explore miles of hiking trails winding through lush forests while enjoying breathtaking views across rugged cliffsides plunging into crashing waves below - all testament to nature's enduring power shaping this remarkable place we now know simply as 'the cape'.