The Southern Oregon Coast is a photographer’s dream world sculpted by the tides, of stone silhouettes set into sweeping curves of sand. At the mouth of the Coquille River lies Bandon, situated near inviting beaches and guarded seaward by rocky outcroppings that have been named by the locals. Many travelers have stood enraptured by Bandon’s Garden of the Gods as if viewing an exotic foreign shoreline.
A seascape of primordial beauty unfolded as I approached the cliff edge on Bandon’s Loop Drive, an array of seastacks towering over foaming ocean swells that poured through arches and caves. Over the stone monoliths floated a nebulous aura that slowly shifted in otherworldly fashion as birds flying in unison settled anew upon the ledges of their rocky haven. These sentinels of the Oregon Islands Wildlife Refuge stood just off shore in mysterious isolation, suspended before me like a portal into another age before the time of man. Lone pinnacles faded in the coastal mist to the north and south, some laying in picturesque groupings that teemed with wildlife, and centered in this tableau was the enigmatic Face Rock, an eerily lifelike profile turned forever towards the heavens. In the resolute gaze of Face Rock lives forever the legend of an Indian princess turned to stone.
Bandon-by-the-Sea is the focal point in a productive region of varied and unique attractions. Cranberries, Dairy Farming, Fishing, and Tourism dominate the local economy. Bandon has survived two fires in its history and has rebuilt itself into a quaintly self-contained community boasting an Old Town replete with shops, galleries, eateries, and a marina. North of town is a wildlife refuge frequented by many species of birds, consisting of two units, Bandon Marsh and Ni-les ‘tun, the latter a site of an ancient Coquille Indian camp. The rolling pastureland in the area has produced some of the world’s finest cheese, famous for its deliciously buttery flavor. The historic Coquille River Lighthouse is a nearby photo opportunity, adjacent to the sand dunes of Bullard’s Beach State park, both popular in the context of Southern Oregon’s uncrowded beaches.
At Face Rock Wayside my wife and I pondered the feeling of timeless wonder. We descended the stairs to Face Rock Beach, to experience a dream and become part of it with our footprints in the sand.