Thursday, July 14, 2011

Postcards from the Southern Oregon Coast

Our family vacation this year took us to the southern Oregon coast where we rented an isolated log cabin with an ocean view. No TV, no Internet, no telephone—not even cell phone reception. It felt weird at first being so disconnected from the outside world, but vacations are about unplugging from everyday life, and I quickly got used to the much slower pace.

Panoramic view of Lone Ranch Beach outside of Brookings, OR

The coast around Brookings, OR is stunningly beautiful, featuring sheltered beaches piled with rocks and driftwood and surrounded on the inland side by wildflower-studded meadows. Tall sea stacks just offshore create a picture-postcard backdrop.

Dunes at Pistol River
Driftwood at Whaleshead Beach
Rock on driftwood

Even though you’d think that this would be the peak of tourist season, many beaches around Brookings were all but deserted. At times, it seemed as if we had our own private beach. Sitting on a rock listening to the sound of the waves and smelling the heady smell of the Pacific Ocean, I felt more relaxed and care-free than I had in a long time.

Panoramic view of Lone Ranch Beach outside of Brookings, OR
Rocks and waves
Our own “private” beach
South end of Lone Ranch Beach
Dead crab

The meadows surrounding the beaches were carpeted with grasses and wildflowers. While most gardeners, including myself, aren’t interested in creating naturalistic meadows in their yards, I love the almost two-dimensional tapestry effect and the contrasting colors.

Horsetail rush (Equisetum hyemale) and flowering grasses
Flowering grasses with wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum)

There is one plant I associate with the Oregon coast more than any other: cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum). It can grow to 8 feet, but most of the plants I saw here were in the 5 ft. range. It’s found in most states of the U.S. and most of Canada and seems to grow particularly large in Alaska.

While many people wouldn’t find cow parsnip “refined” enough to plant at home, I think it would look impressive in a cool shady corner. Too bad it wouldn’t tolerate our summer temperatures.

Cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum) at Harris Beach, Brookings, OR
The umbel is typical of the carrot family to which cow parsnip belongs
Underside of umbel with section of hairy stem

More posts from our trip to Southern Oregon:


  1. Wow. Just beautiful. I could spend days here for sure! Except for all of the dead crabs. ;-)

  2. Alan, all of the Oregon coast is beautiful but I think the area between Brookings and Gold Beach is one of the most scenic stretches, and possibly the warmest.

    I must say Photoshop did an excellent job stitching together these panoramas.

  3. The south end of Lone Ranch Beach is beautiful. Maybe I'll include this on my next itinerary.

    Large Format Printing

  4. MisYahd, this truly is a beautiful beach. In my opinion it's the nicest in far Southern Oregon because relatively few people seem to visit it, at least compared to Harris Beach. In addition, the sea stacks are incredibly scenic.